A War We Can’t Win

NOW that the two political protagonists are talking to each other in a bid to find a political solution which should subsequently lead to economic recovery, it is important that the nation gets to find out the reasons behind the economic sanctions that have been imposed on the country.

 

This is because the country is indeed under sanctions, which affect the economy and everybody in the country. The sanctions do not only affect those against whom they are allegedly targeted.

The sanctions were imposed after the implementation of the land reform programme. As a result, I think we should as a point of departure know the country’s policy on land reform, itself the main reason for the imposition of economic sanctions.

What is the country’s policy in regard to land reform? How is land identified and how are beneficiaries identified? Previously, it was said that the land reform was meant to inter alia decongest the communal areas by way of creating A2 model farms, whereby communal farmers relocated from the communal areas would be given slightly larger plots to practice their trade.

There was also the policy of creating a black commercial farming cadre to buttress the already existing white commercial farmers so that we do not as a country have only one racial group monopolising commercial farming activity.

It would appear that these otherwise well-intentioned policies have been all but abandoned as evidence on the ground shows that land distribution has sadly been reduced from an orderly policy-driven exercise to a process whereby influential blacks go around scouting for and cherry picking the best white farms and then influencing the issuance of the necessary papers by the office of the Minister of Lands and Land Resettlement Didymus Mutasa.

It may well be that the majority of beneficiaries of the acquired white farms meant to create a black commercial farming corps are influential black people in the army, civil service, judiciary and other sectors. Mind you, these “new farmers” have not left their other professions to become full time farmers.

I thought as a nation we should have full time farmers to put our land to full productive use, to feed the nation, just as we should have professionals in other fields on a full time basis to serve the nation.

There is no evidence that there is any attempt to identify suitable –– able and/or willing communal farmers to avail A2 land to.

There is also no evidence that there is any effort to identify suitable –– able and/or willing black would-be commercial farmers for the availing of land to them to constitute a cadre of black commercial farmers as envisaged by the policy of creating black commercial farmers to partner existing commercial farmers.

Another policy pronouncement on the land reform was to the effect that the government’s land reform programme was non-racial and therefore all white farmers who wanted to continue farming would be given land to farm so long as they appreciated the need to share the land with their black counterparts. But events on the ground seem to suggest that whites are not wanted on the land as white commercial farmers are just being removed from the land if some influential black person identifies their property as their preferred farm.

It was also said initially that whites with one farm would be spared acquisition while those with more than one farm would be left with only one. Again events on the ground indicate that if you are white you may have your only farm acquired if an influential black person wants it.

Also if a white farmer has more than one farm, they may well lose all of the farms and be left with nothing.

Overall, the land reform as presently carried out aims at removing all whites from the land and replacing them with blacks who have connections in the political hierarchy who in the main are gainfully employed elsewhere and have not made up their minds to become full time farmers.

Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Patrick Zhuwawo recently said at a rally that no black person will fail to get land as long as there are white farmers still on the land.

In other words whites will be moved off the land even to their destitution to make way for a black person who may want the land for purposes of enhancing his prestige.

It is important that government should promulgate a credible policy on land reform and stick to it in implementing the land reform.

The practice of driving out whites from the farms simply because of their race may well be interpreted as blatant reverse racism, which is frowned upon by the international community.

This could explain the sanctions imposed by the US and EU on the country. It does not help us to punish the EU and US’s kith and kin –– the white farmers, by vindictively driving them off the land in retaliation for the sanctions imposed on us.

Having ill-treated the whites’ kith and kin on the farms here, how do we expect their cousins who control the money in the IMF, the World Bank and other donor organisations to give us money?

We are simply starting a war we have no capacity to win.

So when Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono issues a clarion call to all Zimbabweans to denounce sanctions and work towards their removal, he might do well to look at our own actions which might have given reason for the imposition of sanctions.

It does not help us as a nation to persecute white farmers and generally drive white Zimbabwean citizens out of the country simply on the basis of their race, when we are living in a world which loathes racism and where we have many of our sons and daughters earning a living in the white world unmolested.

We need to retain the moral high ground in our fight with the British over their refusal to honour the Lancaster House Agreement as it relates to land reform, just as we had the moral high ground in our fight against colonialism and apartheid. We need to show the world that here is a powerful white world unfairly ganging up against and bullying little Zimbabwe for simply insisting on having whites in Zimbabwe share land with their black countrymen.

Grandstanding as the world’s “mangindaba” (Mr I know it all), who can humiliate the white man with impunity, can only bring trouble for us as a people. We will no doubt get a place in history as the only African “amadoda sibili” (real men) who humiliated the all-powerful white man, to satisfy our ego, but it is hardly worth the price.

For, history will record that we killed a dozen white men, humiliated a couple of thousands, killed 200 of our black brothers and tortured thousands more who were not sufficiently enthusiastic in defending our noble cause of humiliating the whiteman as they dared vote for his (the white man’s) puppets.

History will also record that in retaliation, the white man imposed sanctions which all but destroyed Zimbabwe’s economy and in the process destroyed the lives and livelihoods of millions of Zimbabweans.

So overall, the black man comes out the loser in this ego fight, as there are more black casualties than there are whites because of the moral high ground that we enjoyed in our fight against apartheid and colonialism, we managed to rally world opinion against apartheid and colonialism.

Regrettably, we have not been able to get everybody supporting us in our noble fight for land reform. Could it be that we come out as vindictive and out to punish whites in the process of redistributing land? That we are driven more by racist vindictiveness than by the desire to right a wrong?

To demonstrate that we were more interested in inflicting pain on the white man than on equitably redistributing land, we totally disregarded the recommendations of the 1998 Harare Donors Conference on Land Reform and proceeded to redistribute land in a manner calculated to humiliate and strike fear into the heart of the white man.

Otherwise how do you justify the very commonplace practice whereby a black person goes to a farm where produce is ready for harvesting and proceeds to claim the crop, the livestock, the tractors and other vehicles on the farm all in the in name of land reform?

This is not land reform comrades. This is unconscionable.

Marazanye is a freelance writer and educationist.

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