Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Study Documents Successes in Zimbabwe Land Redistribution Process

New Study Documents Successes in Zimbabwe Land Redistribution Process

African farmers make significant strides in agricultural production

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

A new pioneering study on the Zimbabwe land redistribution process of the last decade has revealed that millions of Africans have made significant gains in agricultural production and income generation in this former British settler colony that gained its independence in 1980.

Contrary to repeated claims by the displaced white landowners, the British and United States imperialists and their allies, an objective review and analysis of the removal of 4,000 settlers and the re-location of Africans on to these commercial farms illustrates the tremendous strides that have been made since 2000.

This study, entititled “Zimbabwe’s Land Reform: Myths and Realities”, was conducted by Ian Scoones, a British professorial fellow at the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) in the UK. The researcher examined the land reform process in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe located in the central south and east of the southern African nation.

Scoones notes that his research was based on the actual conditions taking place on the ground in Zimbabwe. He tracks the entire process of what has been called by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), the Third Chimurenga (liberation struggle), which was precipitated by the failure of the British and the U.S. to provide resources to buy out white-settler farmers who controlled most of the arable land inside the country even after two decades of national independence.

In 2000, after legislation was passed by ZANU-PF under the leadership of liberation movement leader President Robert Mugabe, 8 millions hectares of land were stripped from the white commercial farmers who held both Zimbabwean and British citizenships. Tens of thousands of revolutionary war veterans led people on to the farms effectively seizing control in the region’s most advanced land redistribution process during the post-independence era.

Leading up to and after the land seizures in Zimbabwe, the western imperialist states embarked upon a massive effort aimed at regime-change in the country. The so-called Movement for Democratic Change was founded with the overt assistance of the white settler-farmers and their supporters in Britain and the United States.

Sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe by the imperialist states and a sophisticated and well-funded destabilization program was launched against the country. The overwhelming majority of news reports about the country in the West were designed to undermine the land redistribution process and to blame the ZANU-PF leadership for the economic hardships that resulted from the sanctions and withdrawal of credit.

Nonetheless, this recently-released study by Prof. Scoones proves that the allegations made by the imperialists and their allies inside Zimbabwe were totally fabricated. Not only did millions of Zimbabweans gain access to land that had been stolen from them since the latter years of the 19th century, but they have made gains in food production and income distribution.

Scoones’ findings are drawn from in-depth field research at 16 land reform sites across Masvingo province that involved 400 households. The study spanned from the higher potential areas near Gutu to the more dry southern lands in the lowveld.

According to Scoones, “What we found was not what we expected. It contradicted the overwhelmingly negative images of land reform presented in the media, and indeed in much academic and policy commentary. Problems, failures and abuses were identified for sure, but the overarching story was much more positive: the realities on the ground did not match the myths so often perpetuated in wider debate.” (The Zimbabwean, October 21)

One key element of the land redistribution process was the breaking-up of many, but not all, of the large-scale commercial farms controlled by the white-settlers. Scoones notes that “Overall there has been a significant shift to many more, smaller-scale farms focusing on mixed farming, often with low levels of capitalization.”

The researcher goes on to state that “In Masvingo province, the new resettlements cover 28 percent of the land area, with 1.2 million hectares being small-scale (A1) settlements, while a further 371,500 hectares are devoted to larger (A2) farms. This has resulted in a very different farming sector, but one that is not without considerable entrepreneurial dynamism and productive potential.” (The Zimbabwean, October 21)

This report admits that the collapse of the white commercial farming sector that was largely for export did result in the decline in production within the agricultural industries that dominated under the colonial and post-independence period. For example between 2001, the year after the land seizures, and 2009, wheat, tobacco, coffee, tea and beef production suffered.

However, as Scoones points out, “other crops and markets have weathered the storm and some have boomed. Aggregate production of small grains has exploded, increasing by 163 percent compared to the 1990s averages. Edible dry bean production has expanded even more, up 282 percent, Cotton production has increased slightly, up 13 percent on average.”

Scoones continues saying “The agricultural sector has certainly been transformed, and there are major problems in certain areas, but it certainly has not collapsed.” This research report not only focuses on aggregate production statistics and therefore seeks to explore developments on a local level which provides a more accurate picture of what is happening in the everyday lives of Zimbabweans.

The author says that “aggregate figures—with all the caveats about accuracy—only tell one part of the story. To get a sense of what is happening in the fields and on the farms, we need a more local focus.”

Western States Continue Sanctions

Despite the gains made in the farming sector in Zimbabwe and the formation of a coalition government in 2008 between the ZANU-PF party and the two MDC opposition factions, the British, U.S. and EU states have continued the economic sanctions against the country as well as their propaganda aimed regime-change. Even under the Obama administration, the U.S. has extended the sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year as well as making policy statements that are aimed at destabilizing the southern African state.

In a recent interview published in the state-owned Zimbabwe Herald, one leading African American religious leader announced that he would launch a campaign inside the U.S. aimed at mobilizing the clergy to pressure the Obama administration to lift sanctions against the ZANU-PF officials within the government. The founder of Imani Temple/ The African American Catholic Congregation, Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, told the Herald’s U.S. correspondent Obi Egbuna that he had written a letter to President Mugabe pledging to increase his involvement “in dealing with the real issues at hand not the rhetoric that serves as a distraction therefore hindering progress.” (Zimbabwe Herald, November 19)

Stallings pointed out in the interview that “If they could enslave and colonize us in the name of Jesus Christ, then trying to force a regime change in Zimbabwe under the guise of freeing people from an evil dictator is a small drop in the bucket. If Nelson Mandela only just recently had his name removed from the U.S. Government’s list of terrorists, then President Mugabe, the engineer of Africa’s boldest land and mining reclamation programs, can forget it.”

It has been recently announced by ZANU-PF that the party is preparing for national elections in 2011 after a new constitution is ratified. Consequently, the coalition government with the MDC factions will be dissolved preparing the way for the re-emergence of full political control by ZANU-PF which fought for the national liberation of the country during the 1960s and 1970s and has maintained power since independence in 1980.

1 comment:

Edible Planet said...

I'm glad there are individuals in places of "power" that understand that no human being created Land and it is something which we all need in order to live and therefore a Right by Birth. Land is the one thing that needs socialized equally among all peoples so that a True and Pure Market Economy can emerge where each individual is sovereign within God with the ability to monetarily share his/her God given talents with the world on his/her own terms by following the dictates of their own hearts and minds and belief systems. There are simple ways to implement this that are fair and just for all. What pure socialization of Land does in the long run is create an atmosphere of personal responsibility and liberty for each Living Soul and opens the doors to a full range of human expression and invention that can only exist within a system based on individual sovereignty.

Peace my friend.