Cape Town – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says he is "disappointed" by black farmers who are underutilising the land given to them under the country's land reform programme, a report says.
According to The Herald, Mugabe, who was speaking to thousands of people gathered at his rural Zvimba village, said he was disappointed that large farms given to black farmers were being used as nothing but "status symbols".
"It is out now that quite a good many of those who got farms on the A2 system are not running them.... [They say] 'I'm a farmer, I have a farm', but what are you producing? That's what we want to know..." Mugabe was quoted as saying.
Mugabe said the farmers required huge capital and good management.
Ill-equipped black farmers
This was not the first time that Mugabe spoke about the land being underutilised after it was given to black farmers.
Mugabe admitted in a recent interview to mark his 91st birthday that he blundered by giving ill-equipped black farmers vast tracts of farmland seized from whites under his controversial land reforms.
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"I think the farms we gave to people are too large. They can't manage them," Mugabe said in an interview with the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
Most farmers only used a third of the land, Mugabe said, in a surprisingly candid admission of the charges that the reforms were poorly executed.
Colonial land ownership imbalances
Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.
Mugabe, at the time, said the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.
At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms.
The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation struggle.
Critics say the redistribution sparked food shortages and contributed to a massive inflation.