Jubilant scenes and a warm welcome back greeted Zimbabwean white farmer, Rob Smart. It was a different image from six months ago, when armed police forced him and his family from their land at gunpoint.

His former workers and their families were also kicked out, but are now chanting for what looks like a new page in Zimbabwe’s history book.

Their return marks the first sign that new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is keeping his vow to stop illegal land seizures and restore property rights.

He had heard of Smart’s plight while still vice-president and took up the case.

Mnangagwa became President last month after a de facto coup ended 93-year-old Robert Mugabe’s rule.

Zimbabwe’s economy had collapsed in the latter half of Mugabe’s 37 years in power, especially after the seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms.

Land ownership is one of Zimbabwe’s most sensitive political topics.

Colonialists seized some of the best agricultural land in the country, leaving many blacks effectively landless, even after independence in 1980.

Mugabe authorized the violent invasion of many white-owned farms 20 years later, under the banner of post-colonial land reform.

The new government has now ordered illegal occupiers to vacate lands immediately, which could be a ray of hope for some white farmers hoping to return to their lands.

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