No man’s land

BY NOMSA GARANDE
There is absolutely no question that land redistribution in Zimbabwe was necessary. It is very puzzling therefore that an intelligent man like Robert Mugabe took so long to effect it.
Why were serious efforts on such an important issue not started at Independence? There was n

othing in the Lancaster House Constitution stopping redistribution, only that there had to be a willing buyer willing seller basis. Joshua Nkomo said as early as 1983 that the process was possible, and Mugabe admitted at the time that his own policies on land redistribution were not workable. According to Nkomo, white farmers had shown a strong willingness to co-operate with government to transfer land to blacks straight after independence in a transparent and organized manner.
Mugabe’s land grab acquisition had very little to do with the altruistic ideal to redistribute land to landless blacks and everything to do with retention of power. He frequently puts forth the argument that the land was taken from the black people and therefore must be returned without compensation. Why then did his government, through its own legislation, allow the sale and purchase of land with it’s blessing in the first place?
Mugabe had only three or four opposition members in parliament to oppose his policy after the 1987 Unity Accord through to 2000. More than 80% of the farmland owned by white farmers was bought legally, with government permission, after Independence.
The whole land question needs to be put into perspective. In 1890 the white settlers arrived in Zimbabwe, but a mere 50 years before that the Matabele under King Mzilikazi arrived in what is now known as Matabeleland, forcing out the resident tribes and annexing their land.
Just like the Matabeles cannot and should not be sent back to Zululand, so there are people of mixed colour, Asians and whites who know no other home than Zimbabwe, but are not truly considered Zimbabweans by the current government. There are many descendants of neighboring countries like Malawi and Zambia who have also been shunned.
Furthermore, the Bantu tribes when migrating south from the North of Africa displaced most of the people who had been here for many centuries before them. The San People had been here for tens of thousands of years before the Bantu tribes arrived in the area. On Mugabe’s logic, do they not qualify for a slice of the cake? If not, why not?
These disenfranchised, now impoverished and almost forgotten people today live in a tiny corner in the west of the country. What is it that makes their case in his argument different? Perhaps it is the numeric or political consideration and not the moral issue that counts.

Post published in: Opinions

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