Fifteen years ago the African state of Zimbabwe, led by ruthless dictator and known xenophobe Robert Mugabe, pushed for the brutal overtaking of property owned by white Zimbabweans.
Over a decade later Mugabe has recently announced that certain properties within the African country will be returned to their original owners.
According to the Zimbabwe Mail, 10 leaders, one from each of the country’s 10 provinces, will create a draft list of farms from their own district that they decide to be “of strategic economic importance.” The current Zimbabwean government is also establishing a commission, backed by the European Union, to assess the frequently violent land grab practices from the 2000’s.
Mugabe’s government took nearly 4,000 farms from white families who had been operating the farms for decades and proceeded to mismanage them, plunging the country into economic chaos. While many families had come to make a fortune from the political system in the British colony of Rhodesia built on racial hierarchy, the attempt to rid the country from its colonial legacy backfired as it sent the country spiraling into economic crisis and left many civilians dead.
Currently, only 300 white farmers are still operating on their original farms. Zimbabwe, in an effort to ward off starvation, has had to import food, because several of the seized farms have ceased production and operation for many of the 15 years after the government ordered the seizure.
In the face of the Zimbabwean situation and the obvious failure on the government’s part to promote agricultural success on the seized farms, president Mugabe still unapologetically stands by the decision he made more than a decade ago. Yet recent actions may show he has, on some level, had a change of heart.
During a recent meeting of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriot Front, Mugabe warned, “Don’t be too kind to white farmers. They can own industries and companies or stay in apartments in our towns, but they cannot own land. They must leave the land to blacks”.
Yet president Mugabe still seems to publicly maintain the same ill-will and distrust of white farm owners that he did in the past, despite the disastrous consequences of this stance suffered by millions of his people.