Britain ready to help &

but only if property rights respected
HARARE - Britain is ready to help fund an equitable land reform programme in Zimbabwe, but only once President Robert Mugabe stops using arbitrary presidential powers to ride roughshod over Parliamentary laws protecting individual property r

ights, Britain’s ambassador to Zimbabwe has said.
“The UK remains a strong advocate of land reform and has, since 1980, provided 44 million Pounds for land reform, and 500 million Pounds in bilateral support – more than any other donor – for development in Zimbabwe,” British envoy Andrew Pocock said in a statement.
“The UK has honoured its commitments, from Lancaster House onwards, and remains willing to contribute to an equitable land reform programme. Its objections are to the arbitrary seizure of property, the use of that property as a means of political patronage rather than to benefit the needy, the use of violence; and the destruction of Zimbabwe’s agricultural productivity – and therefore its economy – in the interests of the few and at the cost of the many.”
Pocock’s comments came amid a flurry of “disingenuous” reports in the official media rallying behind President Mugabe, calling for international funding for the agrarian reform to end the country’s escalating crisis.
State security minister responsible for land reform Didymus Mutasa told the official media weekend that Western governments should make good on their promise at a 1998 donor conference to fund the redistribution of farm lands mainly owned by whites.
“British colonial settlers took the land by force, and black Zimbabweans are entitled to reclaim their property by any means. If Britain wants its white children to be compensated for their loss, Britain must pay,” Mutasa said.
Pocock said Britain had never opposed land resettlement and money was available for the agrarian reform but that the settlement scheme must be “transparent, just and fair”. He said between 1980 and 1985, the UK provided £47 million for land reform: £20 million as a Specific Land Resettlement Grant and £27 million in the form of budgetary support to help meet the Zimbabwe government’s contribution to the programme. By 1988, the Land Resettlement Grant had been substantively spent.
“But what happened from 2000 triggered so much destruction – of agricultural productivity, asset values, employment, foreign exchange earnings – and had so many consequences – social dislocation, food insecurity, scarcity, inflation – that it is important to get the history right,” said Pocock.
Mutasa said the violent invasions of white owned farms were just the “symptom” of the problem. The real cause is British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s refusal to accept the solemn commitment to pay for land made by his Tory predecessors, Mutasa claimed.
He said all other issues – such as government corruption, the allocation of land to cronies, violence on the farms, democracy and the systematic intimidation of the opposition – are internal Zimbabwean matters to be solved by Zimbabweans.
Pocock said: “If we are to build bridges, we need to begin laying stable foundations. We need a common analysis of the real causes of Zimbabwe’s difficulties. These do not include EU economic sanctions – there are none, nor, after a record rainy season, drought. We are ready to talk sensibly. We are ready to do more than this, to drill through the rhetoric to the bedrock reality. But we need evidence of serious intent and capacity to contemplate and deliver change.”
Mutasa said Britain the coloniser couldn’t teach democracy to the colonized.
But in Zimbabwe the obsession with colonialism is wearing very thin, especially among the growing number of young urban Zimbabweans who have known no other leader but President Mugabe.
Political analysts said the majority of Zimbabweans were no longer interested in the history of colonialism, but in their future in an independent Zimbabwe.
They said Mugabe was not concerned in solving the land question, but was more interested in stoking the fires of land grievances and conflict with Britain.

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