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Gono backs Mugabe on land

Ngoni Chanakira

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has spoken out strongly on the emotive land issue, pointing out that both white commercial farmers and new black farmers are

key cogs to the country’s agriculture wheel.

Defending his monetary policy statement to an audience gathered at Oxford University in the United Kingdom on June 14, Gono said the land issue was however irreversible.

He also threw his weight solidly behind government’s recent decision to introduce 99-year leases for farmers, saying the initiative had removed uncertainty on land tenure and enabled the banking sector to support agriculture.

Zimbabwe and the UK have been locked in a diplomatic row over the controversial land issue ever since the fast track resettlement programme was introduced by President Robert Mugabe three years ago.

The UK and most Western nations including the United States have blasted the land programme saying it was not transparent.

President Mugabe and his government, on the other hand, contend the programme was necessary and has benefited landless peasants.

Gono’s sentiments also come as tension between the Commercial Farmers Union and the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union continues to rise.

Gono, who has just returned from the United States, UK and South Africa, told the Oxford University gathering that diversions of views had largely been on how the land redistribution process was or could have been effected.

Analysts however point out that the land programme benefited a few government ministers, politicians and business executives with strong political connections.

The economic crusade took Gono and his team to the US (Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York and Washington), the UK (London, Birmingham and Oxford) and Johannesburg, South Africa.

“Numerous and varied international opinions have been and continue to be passed on Zimbabwe’s land redistribution programme,” Gono said in London.

“Diversions of views have largely been on how the land redistribution process was or could have been effected. This notwithstanding, it is heartening to note that there is mutual consensus among all Zimbabweans and the international community that this process was an inevitable chapter the country had to go through for an equitable distribution of Zimbabwe’s primary national resource – land.”

He said to establish a quick turnaround in agricultural production and hence cultivate a broad-based participation in economic production the RBZ, through the banking system, was working closely with both “white commercial farmers and the new black farmers” providing working capital and other resources to retool the sector.

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