SINCE the Land Reform Programme in Zimbabwe in 2000, the EU, US and UK have been renewing and reviewing illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe on the pretext that the country is violating ‘human rights’.
As a matter of fact, human rights constitute the least important column to the colonial masters considering a number of aspects.
The historical slavery, accumulation of capital through massacre of Indian-Americans or attainment of superpower status by colonisation of so-called ‘Third World’ countries leave no space for human rights talk.
In the recent past, Africans in colonial Zimbabwe were not afforded proper land to stay on and carry out farming that could bring good yields, having been pushed to dry and barren lands called ‘reserves’ but they still received blame for the deteriorating food production in the country as evidenced by complaints from the Colonial Southern Rhodesia Sabi-Lundi Development Second Interim Report of June (1948:5).
“We are inclined to blame the native for working his land merely to get sufficient food for himself and his family without regard to the country’s need for increased food production.”
The environmental degradation also reflected the pressure on reserves allocated to Africans.
Rhodesia Parliament, Third Report of the Estimates Committee — The Mining Aspect of the Mining of Mines and Land of January 6 1969, reveals photographs taken in 1963 and their detail on the deterioration which had taken place.
In the same text, a chief engineer Gibbs confirmed the deliberate European policy to empower whites at the expense of blacks when he confessed:
“I had no time to examine the position in the Native Reserves, and in any case it will be the task of the newly appointed Native Production and Marketing Council to estimate the additional staff necessary to increase and direct native production along proper lines.”
Agriculture trainers and conservation officers concentrated on the European areas alone.
Come independence in 1980, Zimbabwe inherited an unbalanced and racial land tenure system because the bulk of the land was still under the ownership of the minority white population.
About 42 million acres of land was reserved for the whole African population in colonial Rhodesia whereas 35 710 million acres were reserved for the white minority.
The colonialists defended their unfair policies by arguing their contributions to the national income and private capital invested on European farms on water supplies, fences, conservation works and other capital expenditure, but where they got the land in the first place was not a subject.
Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi once described sanctions at the 2021 UN General Assembly (UNGA) as a method of waging war and a crime against humanity
“Sanctions are the US’s new way of war with the nations of the world,” he said.
The West, having faced the threat of losing out after decades following colonial expropriation, want to dwell on customary land tenure and livelihood issues and legitimise sanctions while ignoring underlying agrarian, mining and industrial development.
The West continues to renew sanctions because inequalities that existed in the colonial era and persisted the first 10 years of independence benefitted them.
Land lies at the heart of social, political and economic life.
Records reveal that farmers have now planted more than 908 999 hectares of maize countrywide, with communal farmers leading the way.
Recently, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Masuka, urged Zimbabweans to make farming a business as well as be productive in order to accelerate economic activity for the attainment of Vision 2030 through the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy implementation framework.
Said the Minister:
“Land has become a major economic enabler.
And Agriculture has become a business.
Land and agriculture, therefore, must cause accelerated economic activity for the attainment of Vision 2030.
It is in this regard that the Ministry of lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural development directed all A1 and A2 farmers to submit annual Production and Productivity Forms by February 15 each year.
The new A2 permit conditions also compel all A2 farmers to provide such returns.”
Like China, that has managed to stand up to the US, Zimbabwe is also fighting sanctions illegally imposed by the West.
Uncle Sam will always remain Uncle Sam.