To say I was shocked by the lame, disingenuous, and shamefully ridiculous attempts by the Zimbabwe government to sanitize the septic, cruel, and repulsive displacement of over 12,000 Chilonga villagers from their ancestral land, to make way for a Lucerne grass growing venture by the Dendairy company, by labeling it as ‘investment’, would be the understatement of my lifetime – but, rather, I was bewildered, enraged, and filled with a sense of revulsion for a regime that touts itself as liberators from colonialism, yet have swiftly morphed, in typical ‘Animal Farm’ fashion, into the very colonialists they claim to have vanquished.
Watching the minister of local government, July Moyo, on the state-controlled broadcaster, ZBC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation) current affairs program, Face the Nation, last evening, struggling to maintain some semblance of a straight face, as he went all out in his doomed and unbelievable repackaging of this clearer than day colonial ‘pioneer column’ invasion and occupation of the Chilonga people’s ancestral land, as a form of ‘investment’ – made me wonder why these people even bothered undertaking the liberation struggle (which, led to the killing of thousands of lives, mostly innocent rural populations), under the pretext of ‘fighting colonial rule’, yet only becoming agents of colonialism themselves.
For what reason were our grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, and mothers brutally massacred, maimed, beaten up, their homes razed, and livestock stolen – whilst, our brothers and sisters became freedom fighters, and bravely faced off the settler regime and its forces, with many also long their lives (during this so-called ‘war of independence’) when those leading the struggle were never serious and sincere in their motives, but were in it merely for power?
This reminds me of a statement I once heard that, the late former Rhodesian premier Ian Douglas Smith, once commented (after the country finally attained its so-called ‘independence’) that, had he known that the nationalists were fighting solely to change the country’s flag and name, he would not have placed his forces in danger’s way, by stubbornly refusing ‘majority rule’, which led to a protracted and gruesome guerilla war.
Indeed, Smith was right.
What has changed, when our so-called ‘liberators’ – our very own brothers and sisters – have become the black faces of the colonial regime we ostensibly defeated and removed?
To add insult to injury, there is nothing more painful than being betrayed by one’s own. As much as being oppressed, exploited, and having one’s ancestral land taken by a group of people from far away, is painful, unbearable and cruel – however, having the same done to us by our own kith and kin, who, not too long ago, masqueraded as our saviors and heroes, is exceedingly diabolical, savage, and enraging.
There is no greater betrayal that this.
To make matters worse, the Zimbabwe authorities do not appear to have any remorse whatsoever with what they are doing to the Chilonga villagers – as this ill-advised and greedy move is a continuation of the eviction of the same people in the 1960s from their previous land by the Rhodesian regime, to make way for the establishment Gonarezhou National Park, which, at that time, was similarly touted as a sensible ‘investment’, that wound benefit the whole country, including the displaced villagers.
Fast forward to 2021, and the ‘independent’ Zimbabwe regime has the temerity to declare that the current evictions, to make way for a Lucerne grass growing project by a Kwekwe-based dairy company, is vital ‘investment’, that would also ‘significantly’ benefit the people they are kicking off their land.
As the Harare administration comes up with a revised version of their ‘Rudd Concession’ – in the form of Statutory Instrument 63A of 2021, to deviously and deceptively appear to alter the previous Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021, that sought to effectively legitimize this land grab, yet merely changing the wording in some provisions without necessarily affecting the motive, implying the evictions could still proceed – do they seriously expect the people of Zimbabwe to be fooled?
The Rudd Concession of 30 October 1888 could have fooled King Lobengula only for a while – portrayed as some ‘investment’ agreement – which could have been packaged as bringing massive investments in gold mining, commercial farming, industrial complexes, leading to phenomenal national development and employment opportunities – but, he quickly realized the deceit behind it…and, so have the people of Chilonga, and the rest of Zimbabwe, as they see through the colonial mentality behind these Statutory Instruments, meant to rob them of their legacy, under the guise of investment and development.
If the agreement between the government of Zimbabwe, and their Dendairy friends (implemented through Statutory Instruments 50, and now 63A, of 2021) is to be perceived as ‘investment’ driven, then we may as well, regard the Rudd Concession, and Cecil John Rhodes’ occupation of the land between the Zambezi and Limpopo, as an ‘investment’ as well – as, clearly there is no difference.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured