Talks must solve land crisis, says Mandela.
He said change to land ownership was essential if the black majority was to feel the country's resources were being exploited on a fair basis.
However, he did not support the continuing violent occupations of white- owned farms by black veterans of the independence war.
Instead, he stressed that dialogue, rather than force, was the key to resolving the crisis.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the retired president, said: "It is true that 50 per cent of the land in Zimbabwe is owned by whites, who are in the minority. There must be some equitable adjustment of this question."
He insisted "there should be no violence" and argued that "matters of this nature must be settled through negotiation".
Mr Mandela said he admired Britain's stance on the crisis, in so far as London had emphasised the need for dialogue.
He backed the South African government's concentration on diplomacy, rather than trying to heap pressure on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to end the occupations.
Mr Mandela argued: "It is no use standing on hilltops and shouting about such a highly sensitive matter. An approach through diplomatic channels, without much publicity, is more likely to bring about positive results."