Chinese farmers have taken over formerly white owned farms the first time, investing millions of pounds into tobacco production.
Farms that were badly managed for nearly 20 years, after Robert Mugabe’s mass seizure of white-owned land, are now being worked again in the hope of reaping a potentially huge reward.
At least five farms have attracted Chinese investment in Mashonaland Central, a region to the north-west of Harare, that was traditionally one of the country’s best tobacco-producing areas.
China has become the largest investor in Zimbabwe, the economy of which is still reeling from the land seizures of 2000 and hyperinflation, has taken a nosedive once again.
Unemployment is running at about 90 per cent and the regime is so short of money that it cannot pay teachers or civil servants.
A generation of evicted white farmers have moved abroad or live hand-to-mouth, waiting for promised compensation.
South Africa is next on their agenda after Ramaphosa had signed a billion dollar deal with China as well as securing loan from them.
With these, they now have a free to occupy and take over, do whatever they wish to do.
An insider in the tobacco industry said the Chinese company would be paying a hefty rental for the land they are now using to the “political” men who now own the farms.
“The Chinese will pay a percentage of the income from the tobacco as rent,” he said. “Some of that rental should be shared with the white farmers who left their homes with nothing and received no compensation from the government, but they probably don’t know their old farms are now about to start making money again.”