Breaking through pessimism against the land revolution

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A group of war veterans and ruling ZANU (PF) supporters move through a crop of winter wheat to occupy Seamish Farm in Glendale, 50 Km's north of Harare, 19 July 2000. All farm production in the area has been stopped by farmers in protest over the continued occupations. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP Photo/Paul Cadenhead

COMRADE Patrick Chinamasa’s speech as Minister of Finance and Economic Development to a conference of business people on September 10 2015 contained the following sentiments which I did not deal with in my September 25 instalment:
“Now, the first reality that I defined is the debt overhang.
“That reality means over the past 15 to 20 years we (Zimbabwe) have not been playing our rightful part in the global economy.
“But we have to (get integrated) and time is not on our side.
“We have already lost time.
“The major obstacle to that reintegration has been debt.”
The statement is uninspired and pessimistic, casting the last 15 years as lost time in the history of Zimbabwe’s economy.
The precise meaning of the suggestion is that the period of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) beginning in 1990 was fine because it was supposed to lead to Zimbabwe’s ‘integration into the global economy’; but the period of the Third Chimurenga was a tragedy, constituting a lost time because it stopped our ‘integration into the global economy’.
Another version of the same view is expressed more clearly in The Financial Gazette (September 24 2015) feature by Ray Chipendo of Emergent Research called ‘Explaining Zimbabwe’s credit crunch’.
“Drunk with euphoria, and without someone checking the time, the (mistaken recovery) party goes on and on.
“No one has the incentive to stop the music.”
The misplaced euphoria led businesses to acquire unpayable loans and the bankers let them.
Chipendo makes it clear that the GNU (without an indigenisation policy) was viewed by this class as a path to so-called ‘integration into the global economy’ which would leave buried and forgotten the last 15-plus years!
In the same vein, but much more blatant was the article:
‘Black Friday 17th Anniversary’, The Herald Business, November 14 2014, being an economistic and financialist interpretation of the decision by the state in 1997 to pay a gratuity to vetted liberation war veterans and to put them on a pension scheme.
The Herald Business story compared that 1997 state decision on war veterans with Zimbabwe’s equally momentous 1998 decision to lead SADC forces into the DRC war against a Western-sponsored genocidal invasion of that country.
It concluded that:
“(The World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)) angrily reacted to the unbudgeted expenditures by stopping financial aid immediately thereby leaving Zimbabwe’s economy in an unprecedented free-fall.”
The day Zimbabwe gave a token of appreciation to its liberation war heroes is condemned by so-called economists as ‘Black Friday’, according to The Herald Business.
What does it mean to suggest that the last 15-plus years were lost?
It means not just that the ESAP period was good because it would have led Zimbabwe to full ‘integration into the global economy’, but also that Zimbabwe’s land revolution was bad because it stalled or stopped that integration.
The debt is entirely something else because roughly US$800 million of it was inherited from Rhodesia anyway.
So the real gripe for the class being addressed by Chinamasa and Chipendo is against the land revolution and the crafting of an indigenisation policy.
By the way, debt is one of the most commonly used and most effective tools for so-called ‘integration into the global economy’.
Greece has been unable to defy the EU, the European Central Bank or the IMF because of unpayable debts which these institutions enticed Greece to take up.
As we go to press, Ukraine is actually bankrupt, but it is receiving huge balance of payment loans from the same Bretton Woods institutions who have denied Zimbabwe the same.
The Ukraine debt and further tranches of balance of payment support are means by which the country is being wrenched away from the perceived Russian clutch into the sphere of the Western bloc.
Integration into the Euro-American System versus South-to-South integration
Contrary to Minister Chinamasa’s characterisation, the lost years were the ESAP years from 1990 to the time of the fast-track land redistribution programme.
The years from 2000 to 2007 represent a revolutionary change which many countries would like to achieve, but cannot achieve because they do not have the leadership and courage which Zimbabwe had at that time.
Other countries would like to settle on real land their equivalents of the 300 000 households which Zimbabwe resettled.
The rhetoric which I have briefly referred to here is part of a foreign-supported class backlash against the land revolution.
There have been many decisions and pronouncements here to indicate that backlash:
Announcements that resettled farmers have to be audited and forced to lose their allocations if they under-utilise them or if they don’t pay rent. This reflects real hostility against the land revolution because it turns up-side-down the sequence of normal agrarian development if the aim is consolidation of the land revolution.
First, boundaries for all resettled farmers must be pegged, mapped and confirmed before talking about auditing or downsizing. How do you audit what has not been properly surveyed, pegged, mapped and fenced?
Second, the form of land tenure for all resettled farmers must be settled and every farmer certified and secured.
Third, the mechanisation of resettled farms has to be resumed and sustained and the farmers would be willing to pay for it at affordable and sustainable levels.
A disturbing suggestion was credited to RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya who was reported as saying Government from now on would select just 2 000 farmers from among ‘the best’ who alone would receive state support to grow food crops for the nation’s food security.
Not only would the selection process cause friction and unnecessarily divide farmers.
It would make a mockery of the popular land revolution in the sense that Africans just finished overthrowing a white racist oligarchy which favoured just 4 000 to 6 000 chosen white farmers who enjoyed state support.
The fact that the country has an unbearable debt overhang is not adequate reason for us to expect miracles from a recently set up agricultural sector in which we have invested very little.

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