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Candid Comment

Right thing done the wrong way

By Ray Matikinye

SIGNS this week that mandarins in the ruling Zanu PF are realising rather belatedly the folly of their actions and that the agrarian revolution they engineered had long ago

lost its way are encouraging.

The frank admissions from various politicians point to the fact that belatedly recognising their mistakes has come before their sense of reality becomes unhinged.

When criticism of the land debacle comes from the second most powerful man in the land, it leaves no lingering doubts how the ruling party has wrecked a once thriving industry and sacrificed the agricultural sector on the altar of political expediency.

Vice-President Joseph Msika hit the nail on the head with his frank assessment of the ill-conceived land redistribution programme.

Msika condemned the way land had been taken and given to “anybody” who wanted it. “We have not sat down to ask, really: ‘Does this person to whom we are giving land have an aptitude for farming, is he a farmer? Is he going to develop the land?’” Msika said in remarks broadcast on national television. He said the programme had not achieved its intended results due to lack of planning.

Yes, land needed to be redistributed to remedy ownership imbalances. But going about it in a manner devoid of any rationale pulled the rug from under the noble revolution. The misleading notion that it would destroy the last vestiges of colonialism without due and diligent regard to the consequences is a wrong way of doing the right thing.

Most disconcerting is the fact that while the programme profited only a few thousand, the agrarian revolution impoverished millions. The consequences of doing the right thing the wrong way have created downstream problems such as inflation, foreign currency shortages and a shrinking industrial base.

Zimbabweans continue to be tormented by the ruling elite’s innumerable delusions. And some of the more sinister of these delusions have yet to impinge on the leaders’ conscience

For the past six years or so the state has tried to fan huge smokescreens to mask obvious failures that presented themselves for all to see. Our rulers stuck their heads firmly in the sand in an act of collective deception.

Slowly the ruling elite is beginning to awake from this slumber. They are starting to appreciate, albeit belatedly, the vanity of taking God for an idiot who could create 13,5 million competent farmers and exclusively place them in a country called Zimbabwe.

Politicians misjudged and indulged in arrant deception hoping that by some miraculous streak the reform programme would pan out right and confound well-meaning critics.

Sober-thinking Zimbabweans saw it coming.

The late maverick politician, Edison Zvobgo, had foreseen the dangers and pitfalls ahead when he protested about “turning a noble land revolution into a racist enterprise”.

Deputy agriculture minister, Sylvester Mguni, broke ranks and admitted the looming failure in the agrarian reforms just as much as the former president of the Chiefs Council Chief Jonathan Mangwende remarked: “Pamunofunga kuti mapedza nyaya ye land reform muchazoona kuti hamusati matombotanga nepadiki pose.” (When you consider the land reform complete, you will be surprised that you have not even started).

Why government did not pay heed no one knows for certain. For Msika, this is not the first time that he has noticed how skewed the land revolution had become. A few months ago he spoke strongly against people who invaded farms driven by racism. The invaders’ racism has caused such criminal acts to bounce off their conscience.

“What they are doing is to go into the houses where whites were living and they want land, they just plough a small hectarage, and they are saying that’s enough. We have taken this land, and using it for political gains other than the development of the agricultural industry.”

Msika must have realised that admitting one’s mistakes is a strength rather than a weakness.

Msika promises pales into insignificance if the countermand by President Mugabe is anything to go by.

Mugabe does not want anyone to criticise the
decline and near-collapse that the agricultural sector is experiencing due to ill-conceived land reform. He remains tethered by years of habit to opportunistic behaviour that has demolished the private sector.
All has been sacrificed to champion his son-of-the-soil slogan.

Productivity on the farms plays second fiddle to the political demagoguery of being a son of the soil.

Perhaps he needs to revisit the “land is the economy and the economy is land” nostrum unblinkered by racial bigotry so the nation can benefit from such a natural resource.

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