HARARE - Zimbabwe's president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, extended a hand of reconciliation Saturday to whites and ruled out more invasions of their land.
In a sharp departure from his ruling ZANU PF party, which used to treat whites as foreigners and seized land under Robert Mugabe's regime, President Mnangagwa appealed to whites to vote for him in Zimbabwe's July 30 general election, and promised them land.
"We are saying many of our, especially, white farmers, who remained behind and did not go away, we are very grateful for accepting this change, and you must come on board and must be issued with the 99-year leases, wherever the pieces of land which they hold," said Mnangagwa.
"And as we go forward, we are acquiring so much land that is getting reviewed as a result of the exercise we are doing now from those who have acquired multiple farms. And again, we are racially blind. It doesn't matter whether it's Chiwenga, who has a farm bigger than what is required in the area. We will downsize it and we forget that he is the vice president.
He is a citizen like anybody else, the same with me, and the same with everybody. We are going to make sure we don't have the animal farm mentality, which you did this morning."
Mnangagwa was speaking at what his ZANU-PF party called a "white interface rally" to garner votes from the race about whom his predecessor, Mugabe, used to say, "The only good ones are the dead ones."
President Mnangagwa now wants their votes in the July 30 election in which he locks horns with Nelson Chamisa of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, along with other candidates for Zimbabwe's number one job.
On Saturday, Mnangagwa said whites now would be eligible to get a 99-year lease for land. Mugabe's regime seized most of the white-owned land in the early 2000s in what he said was land reform meant to address colonial imbalances.