Mugabe's Red Herring?
Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper reported today that 822 white farmers are going to be given compensation by the Mugabe government for being 'relieved' of their farms. The paper went on to quote Zimbabwe's Land Reform and Resettlement Minister John Nkomo as inviting "former owners or representatives to contact the ministry as a matter of urgency in connection with their compensation".
Could this be a face-saving method for Mugabe to bring these farmers back into the crippled Zimbabwean agricultural sector? One could easily see through this 'invitation' as being an effective way to get former farmers to contact the government, who, quite reasonably, could offer these farmers some of their land back in return for improving the state of Zimbabwe's agricultural output. Zimbabwe's agriculture production has plummeted, from providing 50% of all export earnings in 2000 to 11% at the end of 2003, according to an independent study.
It may be an impossible scenario, but given those figures, it may be a reasonable response to a desperate situation.