By Dr Tafataona Mahoso
THE 39th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) went beyond the mere condemnation of Western sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe once voiced by at least two previous summits; because this time SADC set October 25 as SADC Anti-Sanctions Day in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe.
Moreover, it was explained during the same Summit that the financial and economic blockade imposed on Zimbabwe adversely affected national economies individually and hindered regional economic integration.
In this context, readers of The Herald on August 27 2019 were surprised by the two paragraphs in the paper’s editorial entitled ‘Lets utilize land, boost production’, which read in part as follows:
“Looking at the bruising fight Zimbabwe had to endure for…its liberation struggle ethos of empowering the indigenous black majority, it then defies logic why beneficiaries of the land reform are not (productively and efficiently) utilising land allocated to them.
Reports abound of resettled farmers who are not utilizing allocated land, but instead boast in pubs of being land owners intermittently waving the offer letters in the face of imbibers just to prove that they indeed own land.
Such attitudes are an albatross to the development of Zimbabwe which needs to increase its production in line with the Transitional Stabilization Programme and Vision 2030.”
The editorial refers to Western sanctions as if they are now in the past; and just days after the 39 SADC Summit has named the same racial sanctions as the real albatross around Zimbabwe’s neck.
The Herald suggests the real albatross is the attitude of a minority of resettled farmers who supposedly frequent pubs!
If SADC economies are affected by the same sanctions, what about Zimbabwe’s resettled farmers who were the primary target of the racial sanctions in the first place?
The person directly in charge of Zimbabwe’s foreign policy at the height of the Western economic war to stop the country’s land revolution was Dr I.S.G. Mudenge.
In his 2004 paper delivered at The Former Liberation Movements’ Conference dubbed ‘The Struggle Continues’, Dr Mudenge reported the following, among other things:
“To the capitalist world in general, the action by Zimbabwe of reclaiming African land (stolen by settlers over 100 years) undermined the principles of (white) property rights and raised the spectre of indigenous people reclaiming their land rights everywhere as well as the assertion of the authority of developing countries over their natural resources. These radical concepts could be tolerated as (theoretical) debating points and not as practical policies. They simply had to be stopped.”
In other words, from the point of view of the white Anglo-Saxon countries who ganged-up on Zimbabwe by imposing illegal sanctions on it, African land reclamation could be allowed only as a theoretical and debatable idea but would not be allowed to succeed as a practical economic development policy.
That is to say: The white powers had to do everything to ensure that African land reclamation would never result in an agrarian revolution leading to the full mechanisation and industrialisation of the resettled farms.
To this day, donors influenced by the same powers still swear that all African farmers resettled on ‘contested land’ should not receive aid or investment.
The late former Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the same paper cited above, emphasised that the former white Rhodesian settlers and their mother country Britain unashamedly “…appealed to race solidarity wrapped in high sounding innocent concepts like good governance, human rights, economic management etc, and unleashed a vicious campaign of vilification and demonization through (their) control of weapons of mass deception like the BBC.”
It is therefore shocking to see that the same vilification of resettled Africans continues in the local media here.
So, the first reply to The Herald editorial is that the image of the resettled African farmers it used on August 27 2019 is a neo- Rhodesian caricature.
The second reply is that of all sectors of the Zimbabwe economy, resettled African farmers were the primary target of sanctions. Traditionally, and world-wide, the finance and manufacturing sectors of the economy have discriminated against agriculture.
That is why governments intervene in agriculture to ensure that it is capitalised and mechanised.
The key objective of sanctions on Zimbabwe is to deny capital to the country, knowing very well that if capital is scarce throughout the economy, then common small-scale agriculture will get nothing at all.
In addition to that traditional bias against agriculture, finance, industry and commerce were the heart of Rhodesian neo-colonial rump economy at the time of our land revolution.
They viewed the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) as their prime client and they sided with it against the African land reclamation movement. Moreover, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), that is, the US sanctions law against Zimbabwe, was drafted to meet the wishes of the CFU.
To demonstrate how really mistaken most attacks on resettled farmers are, it is important to refer to two observers who wrote to the Daily News at the time of riots and stayaways organised by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) against the land revolution between 1999 and 2008.
What started in 1997 as company shut-outs organised in co-operation with the ZCTU became more elaborate and more sophisticated in 2007 and 2008 as the MDC worked with some companies, the CFU and the ZCTU.
The pattern was widely acknowledged as far back as 2003, following the defeat of the MDC by ZANU PF in the 2002, Presidential elections.
For instance, on September 4 2003, the Daily News published a long letter to the editor which was ctitled ‘Cathy Buckle can’t fool everyone all the time’.
The letter showed that there were some, within the regime change camp, who were still proud that the MDC had invited Britain and its Anglo-Saxon allies to wage economic war on Zimbabwe in order to coerce the voters to abandon the liberation movement in exchange for sugar, mealie-meal and other handouts.
But there were others, such as Cathy Buckle, who were beginning to sense that openly celebrating an economic war on one’s own people posed serious risks for the opposition.
The people might become as clear in 2003 as they were in 1978. They might reject the short-cuts being offered by the 21st Century equivalent of the Internal Settlement. So Cathy Buckle wrote at length to deny the existence of British-sponsored illegal sanctions altogether and to cover up for the MDC role in inviting and enforcing those sanctions.
But Denford Magora, who became Dr Simba Makoni’s advisor and spokesperson in 2008, wrote the reply to Buckle which the Daily News published on September 4 2003.
His letter stated among other things, that:
“Britain and America have a tried and tested method of getting rid of regimes they do not like. The game plan always involves making sure that the population of a country suffer enough to rise up against the incumbent government. That was the plan in Iraq and, when it failed, United States President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair dropped all pretence and invaded that country.
By opposing (financial) bailouts by the international community, the West is imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe. These sanctions have nothing to do with Mugabe or ZANU-PF. They are designed to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe do not feel comfortable, with the result that they rise up against Mugabe and chase him out of the country.”
But, precisely because the African majority’s vote came through the gun, Britain and its allies know that it would be easier to manipulate the same vote now through sponsorship, sugar and biscuits than to try to sponsor the gun. This was because it would be harder to bring in special forces and keep them hidden and working for a long time, without their being discovered, than it was to use about 400 to 500 British, North American and European companies, company subsidiaries and NGOs already operating inside Zimbabwe. The second option was what was used in order to reverse the land revolution.
So, on September 11 2003, one Richard
Chauke, who was close to the operations of industry then, wrote another letter to the Daily News to complain about companies who were benefitting from the workers and resources of Zimbabwe using profits from those same workers’ labour and resources to wage an economic war on the entire population. Richard Chauke wrote:
“Industry really plays politics too, perhaps with more (material) vigour than all the politicians.
Truly, industry cannot be spared for its role in the Zimbabwe crisis. It is unfortunate that where industry acts politically, economists are quick to jump onto the grand stage to lecture us righteously about laws of supply and demand.
There is no doubt that industry miscalculated badly towards the 2002 presidential elections.
It fired many workers, the so-called downsizing.
Some companies shut down deliberately, expecting to come back to life after the elections. Others even relocated to neighbouring countries in a bid to frustrate their workers.
The povo in rural areas were not spared either. Some goods seen on the shelves in the evening were not available the next morning. Goods on the shelves were deliberately pegged at abnormal prices and many economic excuses were given, such as lack of foreign currency and fuel shortages… Politics is in the ability to have control and power over the people so that an individual, group or institution even determines what people eat or acquire. Therefore, industry played all sorts of games possible to frustrate workers in order to woo them to vote for its crippled baby — the Movement for Democratic Change… We were branded cowards because we voted incorrectly….”
We quote these passages at length because they were written by people using their own original experiences and observations five years before the 2008 elections.
Magora emphasised one side of the equation; the role of Anglo-Saxon imperialism and racism in global economic warfare.
Chauke emphasized the other side of the equation; the role of foreign companies in a small and dependent economy where the people want independence, sovereignty, economic empowerment and indigenisation.
The African land reclamation movement, with hopes to initiate an agrarian revolution, constituted the core of the dream of indigenisation.
In other words, the same industry accused in the Daily News by Magora and Chauke of organising stayaways and shut-outs against its own employees and against the land revolution was expected to manufacture and sell most of the inputs needed by resettled farmers who had displaced the white farmers who were traditional clients of that industry!
If that industry would shut out its own workers in the interest of regime change, how was it going to treat the maligned African resettled farmers?
It is important to note also that, ordinarily, political education in the rural areas was spearheaded by school teachers.
This was the case during the Second Chimurenga.
But the emergence of the ZCTU and the MDC at the turn of the century means that teachers now have three competing unions with competing ideologies.
This also raises questions about the attitudes of the entire Government bureaucracy toward the land revolution.
With school teachers all over the country, why is there so much ignorance about sanctions?
What sort of contemporary history are our schools teaching?
Why land reform does not equal production
In order for resettled farmers to progress from resettlement to a productive agrarian revolution, the following policy actions were needed from the start, and are still needed:
l The resettled farmers themselves must be conscientised to understand that they were, and they still are, the ultimate target of racial sanctions.
l Government must realise that land reclamation was driven by peasants and war veterans while the civil service bureaucracy, public entities and industry stood aloof or even objected. For this reason the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), the District Development Fund (DDF), Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA), the Mechanisation Department in the Ministry of Agriculture and the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) all needed, and still need, to be revolutionised, to be re-orientated, both to fight sanctions and to support the resettled farmer.
l This re-orientation would mean that Government farm development policy would move quickly from a focus on ‘input-schemes’ to a focus on ‘infrastructure investment and mechanisation’. This would involve making sure there is a tractor on every resettled farm; there is electricity; there is water supply through dams, boreholes and other means. This would also mean that there are specialised mobile teams of mechanics and other technicians to repair equipment on the farms at affordable fees.
Since resettlement, there have been two major efforts at mechanising the agricultural sector.
One was led by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) at the time of Dr Gideon Gono.
The other started with the Brazilian scheme and has widened to include Belarus, India, China and other players.
At the start of the Brazilian scheme, a push was made to exclude from the new scheme those elites who had benefitted from the RBZ scheme, so that mechanisation could progress beyond the first group of beneficiaries.
The list of the RBZ beneficiaries was concealed or suppressed, so that the same few big players who got RBZ equipment proceeded to get the Brazilian equipment! This bias or distortion explains the focus on ‘input schemes’.
For those elites whose farms are already mechanised and well-watered, what they now need are mainly inputs, not the basic capital investment in tractors, combine harvesters, dams, barns, boreholes, fencing and paddocks.
This sector-wide mechanisation and infrastructure investment is what the racial sanctions were meant to stop or stifle.