Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

 Harare - Bribes paid by Zimbabwe’s white farmers to continue working their land are propping up President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle.

As well as helping keep Zanu-PF afloat, many ruling party leaders have personally become rich from bribes paid by some of Zimbabwe’s remaining white farmers. The farmers excuse themselves by saying they have a “devil’s choice” - pay up, or be kicked off their farms.

“They are all paying Zanu-PF bosses. That’s how it is. And it will come to bite them. This money was a factor for Zanu-PF in the last elections,” said one furious white farmer who was forced off his prime agricultural property five years ago after marathon and expensive sessions in various courts trying to stop or stall his eviction.

He and other farmers are scared of being identified.

“Everyone knows, but if it became public, we would all be finished,” said a tobacco professional with 30 years’ experience in the industry.

“These farmers are helping Zanu-PF, the people who kicked us off our land in the first place,” said an evicted farmer.

Since Mugabe launched the land grab in 2000, all farms owned by white farmers have been nationalised, including the small bits of their original properties which a few hundred who survived, mainly tobacco and dairy farmers, are still working.

As the economy continues to weaken after Mugabe’s disputed election victory a year ago, many Zanu-PF leaders are ever more dependent on secret cash payouts from white farmers as they don’t make much from the government. A cabinet minister, for example, earns about R25 000 a month. - Independent Foreign Service

The Star