Seizure of private property is not land reform

johannes_tomanaThe Attorney-Generals latest announcement about property rights effectively renders all Zimbabweans landless, writes PHIL MATIBE. It is, he says, an insolent populist proclamation extremely offensive and unconstitutional and poses a serious threat to our sovereignty by negating the tenets of our basic citizenship rights. ??

The end of the last decade was marked by a depressing political event in ?Zimbabwe. The retrogressive announcement by an obtuse attorney-general, ?Johannes Tomana, that All the land in the country belongs to the ?government and, as such, no individual has the right to disobey a government directive to vacate such. ??Independence becomes a hollow, meaningless word if any politician abruptly?takes the freedoms and rights to property ownership from any Zimbabwean without recourse to the law. How can our most venerated collective ?heritage our land be vested in the custody of known pilferers and devious politicians bent on grandiose self-enrichment crusades? ??

When a legal instrument that would invalidate title deeds was proposed in October 2003 by the then minister of state for information and publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo, misinformed and gullible Zimbabweans gave a standing ovation. He raucously announced that: We need a legal instrument ?that makes those title deeds a little lower than toilet paper, forever a nullity that invites ridicule in any decent court of law. Since then, productive farming businesses, misappropriated by Zanu (PF) officials through the needless violent evictions of their owners, have been?subdivided into unproductive smallholdings, residential plots, housing co-operatives for the party faithful or sold to the landless in hard currency for a profit to the politically connected. The very Zimbabweans, whom the land belongs to in the first place, now have to buy it from the liberators in cash and kind.

It effectively means that the very land upon which the foundations of our homes, factories or business are anchored, has become state property and can be taken away without compensation or justification at a moments notice. Most peasant farmers have no title deeds with which to defend ?themselves against the governments illegal evictions. However, senior ?members of Zanu (PF) own multiple farms and other properties secured with title deeds from the same colonial tenure system we all detest. Njere dzavabenzi kutamba nemoto iwo maoko avo ari ehuswa! It is only a fool who plays with fire when his arms are made out of grass.??

What is the State; who is the State? The State is essentially the Zanu (PF) politburo and its ruthless Joint Operation Command (JOC) that decides who lives or dies, who gets land, and who does not. Unelected members of a political party, politburo, rogue military officers and common ?criminals now govern Zimbabwe. Together they make political decisions laced with social and economic prejudices that create the State, which now?decides everything for the people without debate.??

All Zimbabweans have unceremoniously been dispossessed of their inalienable property rights by a clique of dishonest political speculators masquerading as revolutionaries. ??

Regrettably, the liberators of yesteryear have subdued the democratic spirit of the vulnerable and traumatised populace and molested the will of ordinary ?citizens as a cover for their flagrant thievery and affirmative looting. ??

Zimbabwe is fertile for a home-grown grassroots social revolt, a vigorous renaissance of its national psyche that will pit the unmerited recipients of looted national assets against equally patriotic and loyal citizens, currently relegated to the fringes. Ownership is nine tenths of the law and no-one wants the government to own the land and loan it to its citizens with caveats attached to the lease that perpetuate antediluvian policies.?

Through constitutional amendments that occurred while the rest of society was sleeping, indifferent, or applauding, Zimbabwean land has been nationalised. The 99-year leases are now applicable to statehold land, but can be violently taken away from the leaseholder at a moments notice and given to those who toe the party line. Commercial freehold land that once had a monetary worth, has now been rendered valueless; leases cannot be used as collateral ?for farming loans and have no market value. ?

Ownership of land is now firmly held in the talons of the?Zanu (PF) politburo, which selectively empowers only those indigenous ?persons parroting its divisive slogans. Zanu reserves the right to evict new farmers and reallocate the same ?piece of land to new landholders by declaring the occupier as unproductive. Mere semantics that could mean anything from not producing specified crops or financially supporting Zanu (PF) when called upon to do so, justify removing land ownership rights the very land rights that caused real freedom fighters to go to war and die.

Last year, new farmers were ejected by their Zanu (PF) chefs, from the very farms that they had been allocated under the fast-track land programme. The 99-year leases they were holding were cancelled by the State. Their ?crime was failing to contribute to the 21st February Movement, an imitation North Korean style bash, the Great Leader personality cult that celebrates Mugabes birthday.

The beneficiaries of land today will be evicted in future using the same methods by which they acquired the land.?Politically motivated land occupations are now legal in Zimbabwean and ?self-centred Zanu (PF) constitutional amendments protect unlawful land ?invaders and rewards private asset embezzlement.

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