Thee ﬁrst movement towards land nationalisation came in 1992. At the height of drought and famine Mugabe launched the Land Acquisition Act. After twelve years of independence, it ﬁnally set about the much-delayed process of land redistribution. It proposed acquiring ﬁve and a half million hectares, mostly from white commercial farmers who then owned just over twice as much – about a third of the entire country.
With British help, the government had already purchased some 3.3 million hectares so that, if the Act had been successful, the balance of ownership would have favoured the black majority. White farmers would have received compensation, and something like six million hectares would still be in white hands. Mugabe was not then an enemy of white farmers as such. As late as 1995, he still had a white agriculture minister.