HARARE- THE Zimbabwean government has made a major climb down and now allows farming joint ventures between new black farmers and former white commercial farmers.
It now also allows contract farming, a move Â farmers have welcomed as long overdue.
Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Douglas Mombeshora said farmers were now free to choose who they wanted to engage in joint ventures and contract farming.
â€œJoint ventures can be black to black, black to white, black to yellow or red . . . as long people agree on terms of the contract, but we need to see the contract before it is signed because we want to protect both parties and we encourage fair play not manipulation of one party by the other,â€ said Mombeshora
Mombeshora said some people came to government complaining that they had been chased by resettled farmers after pouring resources on the farms.
Asked if this was a major U-turn on government policy on land, Mombeshora claimed government always allowed this to happen.
â€œIt is not true to say that government ever disapproved contract farming and joint ventures . . . what government didnâ€™t approve of [and doesnâ€™t allow]even now is sub-leasing of land,â€ said Mombeshora
But speaking at the installation of Chiefs Alfred Tome Beperere and Johannes Kanyoka Chidziva of Zvimba at Murombedzi growth point last year President Robert Mugabe took a swipe at politicians harbouring whites.
â€œDonâ€™t enter contract farming with whites; itâ€™s dangerous, dangerous arrangement that we donâ€™t want,â€ said Mugabe then.
At Chipfundi in Mhangura last year Mugabe again accused his lieutenants of â€œsupping with whitesâ€ and promised to deal decisively with them.
â€œSome of my ministers are being mentioned here. They are refusing to remove white farmers from their constituencies,â€ said Mugabe.
Mugabe seems to have lost the plot as most Zanu PF bigwigs were denouncing contract farming and joint ventures publicly while secretly engaging former white commercial farmers as their partners.
A Mhangura farmer who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation confirmed that contract farming and joint ventures between whites and most top politicians was prevalent.
â€œThey were already engaging white partners yet refusing us permission to go into partnership with whites,â€ said the A2 farmer.
â€œThe big politicians are hypocrites; they now want to officially accept contract farming and joint ventures because they can no longer hide it . . . but they have been partnering white farmers for a very long time yet they would deny it to the President.â€ -Newsday