Friday, November 25, 2011

(HERALD) US ambassador hails land reform programme

US ambassador hails land reform programme
Friday, 25 November 2011 00:00
Fungai Lupande Herald Reporter

US Ambassador Charles Ray on Wednesday made a major climb-down on the country's land reform programmes calling them "necessary" to improve the people's lives. Speaking during a visit to Chakona-Muunganirwa Irrigation Scheme in Bindura, he urged Government to continue the programme.

He said his government recognised that land reform was necessary in Zimbabwe long before the country embarked on the programme.

"Many of the Zimbabweans I have met think that my government is unhappy with President Mugabe and Zanu-PF because of land reform.

"Let me take a moment to set the record straight."

He said: "Long before Zimbabwe had A1 or A2 farmers, the US government recognised that land reform was necessary in Zimbabwe.

[Is he saying that it was the US government which started land reform? - MrK]

"Access to land for more people was clearly needed for Zimbabwe to achieve the human dignity people fought for."

He however, added that his government was against the "violent nature" that led to the farm occupations.

"But let me be clear that we do not oppose the general aim of land reform, which is to economically empower people by helping them to build better lives through jobs, income generation, self-reliance, dignity, and opportunity."

Mr Ray said vast tracts of the country's land were lying fallow while many lacked land.

"Zimbabwe can achieve far more with its fertile land and talented people, and there are many ways to expand production and achieve a more equitable distribution of its benefits," he said.

Mr Ray said Zimbabweans should be united and look up to the future.

"Zimbabweans and their Government should look positively to the future. Politically motivated dispossession and retaliation create conflict, not empowerment.

"In Bindura and Guruve districts today, Zimbabweans are bringing markets back to life. And markets empower people."

He added: "Neither American businesses nor the American government oppose empowerment or more equitable distribution of national wealth. But as Zimbabwe pursues these objectives, I hope you will remember that true empowerment does not come at your neighbour's expense."

Mr Ray said with good rains and assistance from Africare more than 5 000 families in Bindura and Guruve districts will become more productive while increasing their income.

"Farming is a way of life for many Zimbabweans. In a few weeks' time, you will see in these fields the green shoots of your next harvest."

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