Skip to comments.Moz welcomes white Zim farmers
Posted on 02/02/2003 5:50:04 AM PST by Clive
Chimoio, Mozambique - Mozambique counts on settling white farmers who have lost land in Zimbabwe for its own development, but officials here have also taken precautions to prevent any export of the farm conflict.
Cremildo Rundo, deputy head of agriculture and rural development in Manica province, where about 50 landowners are beginning a new life, said: "We see the Zimbabwean farmers as investors, not as refugees."
But in exchange, those who lost their farms to the resettlement programme in President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe have to follow strict regulations, many of them embodied in Mozambique's new land law of 1997.
This stipulates that no individual owns the land, which belongs to the state. Zimbabweans wanting to start afresh across the border are entitled to rent up to 2,500 acres of land for renewable 50-year periods.
"You couldn't have a better life," said Peter Bowen, a 42-year-old who arrived with his wife Vicky in August 2001, in a newly built farmhouse, after six months spent under canvas.
From their isolated homestead at the end of a narrow track in beautiful highlands about 30 kilometres from the small town of Catandica, they can see their homeland.
But they would not go back to Zimbabwe for anything.
"We were harassed by people occupying the land every day," said Bowen, who used to grow tobacco and coffee in northern Zimbabwe, recalling innumerable tortuous discussions with liberation war veterans reclaiming the country's prime land from the white minority.
"We knew we would definitely get killed," he added, going on to describe his new neighbours as "incredibly good people", notwithstanding Mozambique's accursed bureaucracy.
Regulations were such that "it's impossible to work without breaking rules", he grimaced. He has renounced cash crops to grow potatoes and other products he can sell on local markets.
New arrivals have to create a commercial venture with a minimum capital of $50,000 and get initial tenancies of three years in which they must prove their real readiness to farm and make an economic contribution.
Few Zimbabwean farmers have any trouble with Shona, since most of them are fluent in the main language spoken in western Mozambique and in their former homeland, but local officials are also keen to see them learn Portuguese.
"The entire country has to benefit from their presence," Rundo said, but he readily acknowledged that "we know that they know their job.
"Anyone is free to come to Mozambique and receives strong support from the government."
The new farmers are drawn into close contact with the local population, with the authorities insisting on respect for traditional beliefs about sacred forests and secret places of ceremony. Failing to respect these is seen as a serious offence.
Once settlers have visited the land that suits them, paid what they should to the state, and filled in a mass of forms, they are taken by officials to visit the chief of the district where they plan to settle.
Discussions usually lead to the ceremonial sealing of an agreement on friendly co-existence. The new arrivals must also get used to Mozambican views on fences, which are almost non-existent in the countryside. People who want to build enclosures are not allowed to do so wherever they want.
Two years ago, Zimbabwean farmers asked Manica authorities whether they could have a single 440,000-hectare patch of land in the province to share out and work.
But the request was turned down by the government, Rundo said, because nobody wanted to see Zimbabweans setting up "ghettos" in Mozambique. The farmers must also employ local people, not workers "from outside", and guarantee a minimum wage of 800,000 meticais ($35). - Sapa-AFP
Sounds like a great place to be FROM.
"Sounds like a great place to be FROM."
Not if you actually came from Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
Probably Mozambique red tape is not as bad as that in most of Africa.
The farmer talking was born and raised in Zimbabwe, which until Mugabe and the boys started mucking around with if was perhaps the most free and successful economy in Africa.
Now it is the basket case of southern Africa.
If my life were at stake in such a situation... I think I'd find another country and another line of work...
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