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Zimbabwe govt changes tune on leases for white farmers

Thousands of white farmers were forced off their land by violent mobs or evicted, with Mugabe saying the reforms would help black people marginalised under British colonial rule.

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) on 24 January 2018 in Davos. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG – Zimbabwe has announced that white farmers still in business after controversial land reforms will be able to obtain long term leases, signalling a new government approach to the key agricultural sector.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced the ousted Robert Mugabe in November, has vowed to revive the ailing economy, boost investment and create employment after years of decline.

Thousands of white farmers were forced off their land by violent mobs or evicted, with Mugabe saying the reforms would help black people marginalised under British colonial rule.

Critics blame the land redistribution, which began in 2000, for the collapse in agricultural production that saw the former regional breadbasket become a perennial food importer.

Now news agency AFP is reporting the Agriculture Ministry has directed all remaining white farmers be issued with 99-year leases instead of five as per previous arrangements.