Africa

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe tells white farmers 'to go'

  • 3 July 2014
  • From the section Africa
Robert Mugabe at the Commemoration of Heroes day in Harare
Mr Mugabe has ruled since independence in 1980

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has called on the country's remaining white farmers to cede land to black people.

"We say no to whites owning our land and they should go," Mr Mugabe told his supporters at a rally.

The white farmers union said it was regrettable that racial tensions were flaring up again.

The president's critics say his policy of seizing most of Zimbabwe's white-owned farms caused the country's economic collapse from 2000-2009.

Mr Mugabe, 90, has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

He was re-elected president last year with 61% of the vote, defeating his long-standing rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

The president's Zanu-PF party also gained a parliamentary majority of more than two-thirds, winning 160 of the 210 seats.

BBC Zimbabwe analyst Stanley Kwenda says Mr Mugabe's comments are surprising, as the government officially ended its land reform programme about two years ago.

It appears that Mr Mugabe wants to deflect attention from Zimbabwe's economic crisis, especially worsening unemployment and the closure of firms, our correspondent says.

'Anxiety'

"Don't be too kind to white farmers. Land is yours, not theirs," Mr Mugabe said at a rally in Mashonaland West province, a stronghold of Zanu-PF .

"They should get into industries and leave the land to blacks," he added.

Mr Mugabe's comments had caused anxiety among white farmers, said Commercial Farmers Union director Hendricks Olivier.

"We'd like to move forward and work with the government of the day," he told BBC Focus on Africa.

There were only between 100 and 150 white farmers left in Zimbabwe, Mr Olivier said.

Several thousand of them were forced to abandon farming after the government launched a controversial land reform programme nearly 15 years ago.

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