Zimbabwe's "neo-colonialist enemies" want its farmers to fail in order to damn the country's land reforms, Robert Mugabe said on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe’s “neo-colonialist enemies” want its farmers to fail in order to damn the country’s land reforms, President Robert Mugabe charged at the United Nations Hunger Summit on Tuesday.
“We face very hostile interventions by ... states which have imposed unilateral sanctions on us,” Mugabe said on the second day of the UN food security summit in Rome.
“This has had a negative impact on our farmers who, according to our neo-colonialist enemies, must fail so as to damn the land reforms we have undertaken,” Mugabe said.
The Zimbabwean leader also said climate change has had the “most devastating impact” on food security in Africa, along with inaccessibility of land, the rising costs of agricultural inputs, lack of financing and trade-distorting subsidies paid to farmers in wealthy nations.
Mugabe has defended the land reforms begun in 2000 as a necessary redress to colonial-era imbalances, but the scheme has been plagued by political violence targetting the presidents’ opponents.
Since the land reforms were launched, Zimbabwe’s agriculture-dependent economy has collapsed and the population has become dependent on international food aid for survival.
About 400 white-owned farms remain in Zimbabwe, with most of the farms resettled by blacks unused, according to the Commercial Farmers’ Union representing white farmers.
UN estimates predict that Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of the southern African region, will produce about 450 000 tonnes of cereals in its next harvest in May, but needs 2,2-million tonnes to feed its people.
“We have also seen a wish to make us dependent on food imports as opposed to enhancing our own capacity for production,” Mugabe charged on Tuesday.
Mugabe’s human rights record has seen him barred from travelling to the European Union, except for international gatherings, under the sanctions since 2002.
The Zimbabwean leader urged that the $20-billion committed at the Group of Eight summit this year “will not be politicised” as he called for the removal of “illegal and inhuman sanctions on my country and its people”.
About 60 heads of state and government are taking part in the three-day World Summit on Food Security, but leaders of the world’s wealthiest countries were conspicuous by their absence.
The summit issued a final declaration on the opening day Monday that drew fire for a lack of concrete targets.—AFP.