United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray has said his country fully supported Zimbabwe’s land reform programme, but was against the violence that characterised its implementation.
Addressing villagers at Chakona-Muunganirwa Irrigation Scheme in Bindura District this week, Ray said it was important that people were given land as a way of empowering them.
“Zimbabwean leaders understood the ‘power of markets’ that is why they called for land reform at the dawn of independence,” he said.
“Many of the Zimbabweans I have met think that my government is unhappy with President (Robert) Mugabe and Zanu PF because of land reform.
Let me take a moment to set the record straight. Long before Zimbabwe had A1 or A2 farmers, the US government recognised that land reform was necessary in Zimbabwe.
Access to land for more people was clearly needed for Zimbabwe to achieve the human dignity people fought for.”
The envoy said what his country opposed was the violence that characterised the land reform exercise in the country.
Ray added: “The US strongly opposes the violence and displacement through which land reform was achieved and which ended or disrupted far too many lives.
“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.
“I think Zimbabwe’s leaders understood that when they called for land reform at the dawn of Zimbabwe’s independence.
It is a simple idea that we all understand: give people land and the skills to make it productive and you give them a chance to succeed.”
The Chakona-Muunganirwa Irrigation Scheme, assisted by Africare, caters for over 5 000 families in Bindura and Guruve districts.
Ray said the success of the scheme meant that farmers had become more productive and hence increased their incomes.
“That means over 20 000 people in this area are better off, and thousands of children are able to stay in school,” Ray said.