Namibia says Zimbabwe a role model for land reform

Namibia’s justice minister has praised Zimbabwe’s controversial programme of farm seizures, saying newspapers that run negative stories about the country are taken over by forces opposed to the success of Africanism, it was reported on Wednesday.

Speaking during a tour of three Zimbabwe farms allocated to black farmers, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana said there was too much propaganda against the country, the government’s Herald newspaper reported.

“When I came to Zimbabwe I was looking for chaos, disorder, lawlessness and rampant human rights abuse. I was surprised to see people working, some of them on their farms,” the minister said.

Namibia has recently embarked on its own programme of land reforms, and says it sees Zimbabwe as a role model for the way land reform can be carried out.

President Robert Mugabe launched his programme of white land seizures in 2000. Only a few hundred white farmers are now left on the land, out of more than 4 000 six years ago.

The programme has been wracked with controversy, following allegations that well-connected members of the ruling party cherry-picked the best farms, often for use as weekend retreats.

Agricultural production has taken a nosedive, turning a country once known as the breadbasket of Southern African into a struggling food importer.

Mugabe blames the drop in production upon repeated drought, but some senior government officials—including vice-president Joseph Msika—have dared to suggest that land wasn’t always given to people with an interest in farming.

Namibia’s justice minister told the Herald she was very pleased to have been brought to see the farms.

“There is too much propaganda against Zimbabwe. I keep on repeating, our media from all over Namibia, South Africa are all taken by forces opposed to the success of Africanism,” Iivula-Ithana said.

The authorities in Zimbabwe also regularly allege that they are the victim of a hostile Western media plot, and there are strict media laws in place to try to control which reporters are allowed to work there. - Sapa-DPA

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