By Jessica Mundawarara|
The bankrupt government of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has re-introduced colonial-style land taxes in a clandestine bid to reduce numbers on farms seized violently from their white owners, it emerged.
The taxes were scrapped around 2000 when the governing Zanu PF party encouraged its militant backers to seize then highly productive white-owned farms without paying compensation.
Commercial agriculture immediately collapsed, denying the state millions of dollars annually in taxes.
Official sources confirmed this week that the move was aimed at driving “lazy” black farm invaders off the land.
“Lazy farmers would be forced to pay rent when they are producing nothing and certainly that would hurt their pockets. In a way government is actually encouraging farmers to be productive and make money for themselves,” said the government mouthpiece, the Herald, promoting a colonial strategy that forced black farmers to abandon the land and go into formal employment.
“The policy will also result in those with vast tracts of land and multiple farm owners surrendering some hectarage to government as the cost of sitting on idle land affects their cash flow. It will also force farmers, who have for a long time been unproductive, off the land,” the state propaganda sheet said, parroting official positions.
The resettled farmers say they can not be more productive as they lack capital for inputs. They say the few free supplies provided by the state and donors are always grabbed by well-connected people, leaving the poor with nothing.
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