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Mnangagwa says Zimbabwe's land reform programme is non-negotiable





IN A sign that Harare may be hardening its stance towards the West, President Emmerson Mnangagwa says meaningful re-engagement with Washington and Brussels will only happen when they accept that there will be no reversal of Zimbabwe's land reform programme.

In tidbits of his pre-recorded Independence speech which were made public yesterday by Information permanent secretary Nick Mangwana, Mnangagwa said the land reform programme was a done deal which would not be revised at whatever cost.

This comes as the government has not received much joy so far in its bid to improve its frosty relations with the United States of America (USA), the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK).

Harare's dealings with the West hit an all-time low after a then politically-pressured president Robert Mugabe embarked on chaotic land reforms two decades ago.

It also comes as the USA, the EU and the UK have maintained their sanctions against the country despite Mugabe's ouster from power and death - demanding that the government fulfils all the reform promises that were made when Mnangagwa succeeded Mugabe in November 2017, following a stunning but widely-supported military putsch.

In excerpts of the gist of Mnangagwa's speech, Mangwana quoted the president saying the government would not compromise on the land question in return for engagement with the West.  

"Those who want to engage with us must admit that the land of Zimbabwe belongs to the people of Zimbabwe. There is no negotiation on that issue," Mnangagwa is quoted saying.

Zimbabwe will celebrate 41 years of its independence from Britain on Sunday.

Relations between Zimbabwe and western countries have been frosty ever since the country embarked on chaotic and widely-criticised land reforms in 2000, which saw many commercial farmers losing land at the height of Mugabe's ruinous rule.

The move proved disastrous for the country and its long-suffering citizens, as this resulted in Zimbabwe's isolation from the rest of the international community, while also destroying the critical agricultural sector.

It also saw Zimbabwe's credit lines and trade facilities being blocked following the imposition of sanctions on the country - amid widespread criticism of Harare's human rights record.

This subsequently resulted in Zimbabwe hitting rock bottom economically, which left most citizens dirt-poor and living on less than a dollar a day - with many companies closing down and investors pulling out.

Meanwhile, political analysts told the Daily News yesterday that what Mnangagwa planned to say on Independence Day was consistent with the spirit of the occasion.

"What has been done in the past can only be improved  upon by way of taking away land that is being under-utilised, as well as reducing some farms given to black Zimbabweans with limited capacity.

"What is being referred to as land reform in Zimbabwe was in actual fact de-racialising land ownership, and Zimbabweans expect real land reform to still happen because 3,1 million hectares of land was given to A2 farmers while 3,5 million from the previously 11 million hectares are owned by white commercial farmers," University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Clever Mumbengegwi, said.

Renowned Professor of World Politics at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (OAS), Stephen Chan, however warned that Mnangagwa's rhetoric risked putting re-engagement efforts in jeopardy.

"This is rhetoric with no modern meaning. The issue of land does not arise because no one anywhere wishes to occupy, own or colonise Zimbabwe.

"Living in the past is what prevents a new vision for the future. Setting conditions for engagement doesn't work because the problem is that currently no one wants to engage seriously.

"All the world wants to know is, does the president have an actual plan? Zimbabwe is the one that must reach out to the West because she needs that more than anyone else," Chan told the Daily News.

In recent months, the USA, EU and the UK have all affirmed their readiness to offer more support to Mnangagwa and his government, to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.

Speaking to the Daily News's sister publication, the Daily News On Sunday, last month, the EU's head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen, reiterated that the bloc remained ready to work with the government to end the country's myriad challenges.

Also speaking in an interview with the Daily News on Sunday in October last year, USA ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said Washington remained ready to assist the country - as long as Mnangagwa and the government fulfilled the promises that were made after the dramatic fall from power of Mugabe.

In December, British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melanie Robinson, also said London had taken note of the positive law reforms that had been undertaken by Harare.

However, she warned, sanctions would remain in place if Zimbabwean authorities failed to commit to the promises that Mnangagwa made when he swept into office following Mugabe's dramatic ouster.

The UK subsequently announced further sanctions on security chiefs and a former military commander, over alleged human rights breaches.

This also comes as Mnangagwa and his administration have been accused of blowing the international goodwill which followed the fall of Mugabe.

However, his government has also been credited with expunging some repressive laws from the statute books that were routinely used by Mugabe's regime to punish political opponents and independent media like the Daily News.

Among the laws that have been scrapped are the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and Posa.

In addition, Mnangagawa has been praised for trying to end years of chaos in the agricultural sector by restoring farming rights that were taken away during Mugabe's ruinous reign.

In this regard, the government recently signed a US$3,5 billion Global Compensation Agreement with white former commercial farmers, while also announcing that all farmers who lost their land protected by Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) would either be compensated or have their land titles restored.

IN A sign that Harare may be hardening its stance towards the West, President Emmerson Mnangagwa says meaningful re-engagement with Washington and Brussels will only happen when they accept that there will be no reversal of Zimbabwe's land reform programme.

In tidbits of his pre-recorded Independence speech which were made public yesterday by Information permanent secretary Nick Mangwana, Mnangagwa said the land reform programme was a done deal which would not be revised at whatever cost.

This comes as the government has not received much joy so far in its bid to improve its frosty relations with the United States of America (USA), the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK).

Harare's dealings with the West hit an all-time low after a then politically-pressured president Robert Mugabe embarked on chaotic land reforms two decades ago.

It also comes as the USA, the EU and the UK have maintained their sanctions against the country despite Mugabe's ouster from power and death - demanding that the government fulfils all the reform promises that were made when Mnangagwa succeeded Mugabe in November 2017, following a stunning but widely-supported military putsch.

In excerpts of the gist of Mnangagwa's speech, Mangwana quoted the president saying the government would not compromise on the land question in return for engagement with the West.  

"Those who want to engage with us must admit that the land of Zimbabwe belongs to the people of Zimbabwe. There is no negotiation on that issue," Mnangagwa is quoted saying.

Zimbabwe will celebrate 41 years of its independence from Britain on Sunday.

Relations between Zimbabwe and western countries have been frosty ever since the country embarked on chaotic and widely-criticised land reforms in 2000, which saw many commercial farmers losing land at the height of Mugabe's ruinous rule.

The move proved disastrous for the country and its long-suffering citizens, as this resulted in Zimbabwe's isolation from the rest of the international community, while also destroying the critical agricultural sector.

It also saw Zimbabwe's credit lines and trade facilities being blocked following the imposition of sanctions on the country - amid widespread criticism of Harare's human rights record.

This subsequently resulted in Zimbabwe hitting rock bottom economically, which left most citizens dirt-poor and living on less than a dollar a day - with many companies closing down and investors pulling out.

Meanwhile, political analysts told the Daily News yesterday that what Mnangagwa planned to say on Independence Day was consistent with the spirit of the occasion.

"What has been done in the past can only be improved  upon by way of taking away land that is being under-utilised, as well as reducing some farms given to black Zimbabweans with limited capacity.

"What is being referred to as land reform in Zimbabwe was in actual fact de-racialising land ownership, and Zimbabweans expect real land reform to still happen because 3,1 million hectares of land was given to A2 farmers while 3,5 million from the previously 11 million hectares are owned by white commercial farmers," University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Clever Mumbengegwi, said.

Renowned Professor of World Politics at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (OAS), Stephen Chan, however warned that Mnangagwa's rhetoric risked putting re-engagement efforts in jeopardy.

"This is rhetoric with no modern meaning. The issue of land does not arise because no one anywhere wishes to occupy, own or colonise Zimbabwe.

"Living in the past is what prevents a new vision for the future. Setting conditions for engagement doesn't work because the problem is that currently no one wants to engage seriously.

"All the world wants to know is, does the president have an actual plan? Zimbabwe is the one that must reach out to the West because she needs that more than anyone else," Chan told the Daily News.

In recent months, the USA, EU and the UK have all affirmed their readiness to offer more support to Mnangagwa and his government, to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.

Speaking to the Daily News's sister publication, the Daily News On Sunday, last month, the EU's head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen, reiterated that the bloc remained ready to work with the government to end the country's myriad challenges.

Also speaking in an interview with the Daily News on Sunday in October last year, USA ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said Washington remained ready to assist the country - as long as Mnangagwa and the government fulfilled the promises that were made after the dramatic fall from power of Mugabe.

In December, British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melanie Robinson, also said London had taken note of the positive law reforms that had been undertaken by Harare.

However, she warned, sanctions would remain in place if Zimbabwean authorities failed to commit to the promises that Mnangagwa made when he swept into office following Mugabe's dramatic ouster.

The UK subsequently announced further sanctions on security chiefs and a former military commander, over alleged human rights breaches.

This also comes as Mnangagwa and his administration have been accused of blowing the international goodwill which followed the fall of Mugabe.

However, his government has also been credited with expunging some repressive laws from the statute books that were routinely used by Mugabe's regime to punish political opponents and independent media like the Daily News.

Among the laws that have been scrapped are the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and Posa.

In addition, Mnangagawa has been praised for trying to end years of chaos in the agricultural sector by restoring farming rights that were taken away during Mugabe's ruinous reign.

In this regard, the government recently signed a US$3,5 billion Global Compensation Agreement with white former commercial farmers, while also announcing that all farmers who lost their land protected by Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) would either be compensated or have their land titles restored.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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