President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday assured Zimbabwe's white peasants that their land will not be taken and urged them to work with the government before the state elections on July 30.
Under his predecessor Robert Mugabe, white farmers were expelled in favor of landless blacks from the year 2000 through a controversial policy that ruined agriculture and provoked an economic collapse.
But less than two weeks before Zimbabwe's first election since Mugabe's fall, Mnangagwa has withdrawn all fears that practice would be repeated
"This issue of new (land) invasions is a thing of the past. Mnangagwa told a group of about 200 Whites and Asians who had gathered in the capital, Harare. Animal Farm mentality, "was a thing of the past.
" I say we should stop talking about who owns the farm in terms of color. It's criminal to talk about it. A farmer, black farmer, a white farmer is a Zimbabwean peasant. "
Mnangagwa said his government was" racist blind "and needed the expertise of everyone in the economy.
Zimbabwe's white population is less than 1% of the population 16 million of the country fell after Mugabe enforced the policy of expropriation of farms in 2000.
Agricultural production plummeted in the aftermath. Investors abandoned and mass unemployment forced millions of Zimbabweans to seek work
& # 39; ; Much encouragement & # 39;
Mnangagwa acknowledged the failure of land reform and said that the white people's know-how in agriculture still needed and encouraged to participate in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe.
"We have to build the Zimbabwe we want. We want to restore the status of Zimbabwe as a food basket of the region, "he said.
" He gave us a lot of encouragement. We came here to ask about options for agriculture, "said Louisa Horsely, 51, told AFP.
" I wanted to know if my husband's expertise is still needed if he wants to farm and wants to help other people farms and that's what we're interested in. It sounds like he wants us to be part of it.
Tara Chatterton, 39, who runs an auction business, said she visits the rally to learn what Mnangagwa's plans have been since last year's military intervention that led to the removal of Robert Mugabe after nearly four decades
"We're here to see what he wants to accomplish with this country back and try to bring people together, as a nation," said Chatterton.
Paul Sexton, 71, who works for a print shop, said he was impressed that the leader "made no unusual promises."
"It will take time, and that is the truth."
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