Read more: Zimbabwe’s land reform: Zambia’s gain, a cautionary tale for South Africa?
An election topic in South Africa
The Zimbabwean government’s steps toward the white farmers have also been harshly criticized in neighboring South Africa, where land expropriation is one of the major election topics.
“Mnangagwa is selling out,” exclaims Julius Malema, leader of the South African Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party. “That country is swimming in a pool of poverty. They can’t afford basic things like primary health care, proper education, working infrastructure. They go and give money to people who are not deserving of such money,” he told reporters. “It’s reversing the gains of the revolution and very soon the people of Zimbabwe will turn on him,” Malema said.
In the May 2019 general elections in South Africa, Malema’s EFF party is running on a platform calling for land redistribution and expropriation without compensation for white farmers. While many South African politicians argue that the land reform won’t have the same violent character of the Zimbabwean farm seizures, the population pressure on land in South Africa is growing. A bill to allow the seizure of land is expected to be passed once the elections are over.
Zimbabwe might also see a second chapter in the land reform. “We’ve just completed a land audit,” says Musewe. And the principle now is one family one farm. So you can no longer own multiple farms and they are even cutting the size of the farm.”
As this will produce a large number of small-holder farms, this approach also holds new challenges. “The issue is how you give them capital? And some of them do not use the latest methods and technology to grow stuff, so it becomes really costly for them to grow.”