Friday, April 17, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: 29th Anniversary of Independence Celebrated; Mugabe Interview

Be patient with MDC-T over sanctions: President

Political & Features Editor

PRESIDENT Mugabe has said the MDC-T will find it difficult to approach the West to lift the economic sanctions but the nation should help the party tackle the countries that imposed the embargo.

In his traditional Independence interview with ZBC-TV, the President urged the nation to be patient with the MDC-T on the campaign for the removal of sanctions and called on all Zimbabweans to use the occasion of the country’s 29th Independence Anniversary to foster national unity for the sake of national development.

President Mugabe said the MDC-T needed encouragement to fully tackle the West over the illegal economic embargo on Zimbabwe.

Asked if the country’s leadership was moving together in condemning the sanctions imposed by the European Union, the United States and their allies, President Mugabe said everyone wanted the embargo lifted forthwith.

"You have got to understand that yesterday the opposition thought sanctions would be a good weapon against the ruling party that would yield them a favourable position in the political system.

"So for them (MDC-T), after calling for the imposition of sanctions yesterday to go back to those same people and say remove the sanctions is difficult.

"Although I know that they want them to go quickly it is not easy. Prime Minister Tsvangirai preferred to call them restrictive measures when saying they should be lifted.

"That is the best they can do. They will have psychological difficulties and we should help them get over it.

"The sanctions are unwarranted and it is important that we sing the same song. With time they will have summoned the courage to go to the same people and say we don’t need them anymore," he said.

President Mugabe urged the nation to cherish its sovereignty and build a foundation for future generations.

"Our independence by its very nature makes us one people, it unites us. Let us remain one. As one let us, therefore, prepare for ourselves a future by developing our country together.

"Let us remain united for the purpose of developing our country together. You should all enjoy your independence and be proud that you are Zimbabwean," he said.

The President added: "Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans and my message for you today is that we must be united. United by the fact of being made one by independence, it binds us to each other.

"We are all Zimbabweans, good or bad. Even the greatest thief in Zimbabwe is independent and he is a

Zimbabwean. Of course, he has no right to take my property but even after stealing he remains a Zimbabwean.

"Everyone must be proud of this day because we all have a right to determine the future of Zimbabwe. That is self-determination, the right to determine our destiny."

President Mugabe, however, said the political independence the country enjoyed was hollow without control of the resources found on and in the land.

He said the creation of the inclusive Government was out of respect for the different political opinions obtaining in the country.

"What is inclusivity? Inclusivity is a process of unifying people, unifying yourselves through inclusivity. The word really is a misnomer because it connotes or denotes taking elements which are extraneous and adding them to the fundamental core.

"But in our sense, which is a partnership between three parties, parties of our own people.

"We have recognised that these other parties have the support, substantial support, of our people.

"They have been supported throughout the elections we have held and mainly the March elections of last year.

"Because of that supporter yield we could not ignore the fact that the people support MDC-Tsvangirai and MDC-Mutambara.

"Reality must dawn on you that the people of Zimbabwe are divided between your party and others. Instead of quarrelling and unleashing violence on each other, isn’t it better that you get together and start a chapter of working together?"

He said this approach was consistent with Zanu-PF’s policies since Independence in 1980 when they included Rhodesian Front members in Government and allowed Ian Smith to actively participate in national politics.

"If we could do it with Smith’s men why can’t we do it with men from Tsvangirai’s and Mutambara’s parties.

"There is no element of undermining pan- Africanist principles here. If anything this is an enhancement of the pan-African revolution.

"If you can work things out together isn’t it better than quarrelling and unleashing violence?"

He said following last year’s elections the best way forward for the country was "a government of national unity".

"You can call it an inclusive government but really it’s a government of national unity. It has brought peace and stability."

President Mugabe said despite a few isolated acts of violence — which he has roundly condemned —the environment in the country was conducive for investment while calling for the immediate lifting of sanctions.

--ZBC will broadcast the full interview at 9 o’clock after tonight’s main news bulletin.

War against land reform unwinnable

By Reason Wafawarova

THE three-party agreement that established the inclusive Government currently running the affairs of Zimbabwe cannot and will not be a licence for the reversal of the gains of the Land Reform Programme.

As we celebrate the Independence of Zimbabwe from colonial repression, let us not be fooled into believing that the fuzzy feelings we get about the prospect of the inclusive Government bringing economic success to the country can over-ride the success of those who lost lives and limbs so that we could reclaim the heritage that had been systematically stolen from us — the land.

There are sudden and increasing voices that are trying to paint a picture that President Mugabe’s commitment to the success of the inclusive Government is to be measured by a measure of capitulation on the land policy.

The same voices have been painting the blatantly false picture that beneficiaries of the Land Reform Programme are, by definition, "Mugabe cronies."

The beneficiaries of land reform in Bolivia are equally labelled Morales’ cronies and so has been the case with the beneficiaries of Venezuela’s land reforms who are, by imperial definition, all cronies of Hugo Chavez.

Those farmers with long standing cases of fighting Government authorised eviction notices are now portrayed as victims of "fresh farm invasions."

It is clear that Sadc’s position is that new farmers on acquired farm land should be equipped and helped to increase farming production so that Zimbabwe can once again be a net exporter of food in the region and abroad.

Yet for the same goal some people are for the unachievable objective of restoring land ownership to farmers who were evicted during the Land Reform Programme.

It must be noted that when the land occupation took place, the problem was not who owned the land but who did not have land and why that was so.

The issue was not whose property rights were to be protected but whose heritage had been stolen in the name of property rights and anti-people land tenure laws.

If Zimbabwe was a vast country with colonial beneficiaries occupying the same land space as was the case prior to 2000, but with indigenous people equally settled on productive land then there was never going to be a need for land reforms.

The Land Reform Programme sought to address, and still seeks to address, the issue of deprivation through dispossession and that underlying reality will remain the motivating factor that turned the agrarian tables upside down in Zimbabwe.

The issue of production is fundamental and cannot be downplayed by any sane person. However, addressing production by reinstating inequality is plain stupid and cannot be tolerated from whichever angle one may want to argue.

Production based on deprivation of the masses and a reinstatement of colonial imbalances will not do the future of Zimbabwe any good.

It is simply unacceptable. The only viable option is to follow the Sadc lead in empowering the new farmers with inputs, training and giving them the political will and support they deserve.

As Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara recently said, the focus must be on figuring out how best to make our new farmers produce.

The issue of the revolution going into reverse gear does not arise.

Denigrating the new farmers as "Mugabe cronies", "unskilled Zanu-PF supporters" or "incapable of farming" will not help increase agricultural production and neither will it help return the land to those who have already been moved off the land or those yet to be moved.

What the inclusive Government must be addressing are matters of multiple farm ownership, underutilisation of land, comprehensive support for the resettled farmers and a logical conclusion to land acquisition.

Without doubt, the inclusive Government must deal decisively with the issue of those who may be motivated by selfish and greedy short-term benefits like nice farm houses and ready harvests when in fact they have no serious plans on long-term commitment to serious farming.

The attempt to cheer some Zimbabwean politicians into a warpath with new farmers is ill-advised, dangerous and futile.

No Zimbabwean politician is too popular to the extent of reversing the land reform programme without dire repercussions.

Equally, the attempt by some economically powerful groupings to limit the potential damage on political mileage for some purported friendly political parties in Zimbabwe by suggesting that President Mugabe must be used to reacquire lost land cannot be a sensible suggestion, if only for the known principles of President Mugabe.

Some argue that if the MDC formations are going to help clean up the economic mess in the country by calling for the lifting of sanctions and helping mobilising aid for the country, then President Mugabe and Zanu-PF must "play ball" by reversing land reforms and reinstating ousted former commercial farmers.

The euphemism used for this is "restoring property rights" or simply "establishing the rule of law". The fact of the matter is that the land question in Zimbabwe is no longer about the former land occupiers but about the current occupiers.

The former land occupiers had their tenure by historical and political privilege and the new farmers have assumed their tenure based on moral justice and the inalienable right to a country and space to dwell and subsist.

If there are willing new farmers that wish to partner with the former occupiers from a position of strategic business partnership, that can only be encouraged.

However, the real focus should be to make sure that a comprehensive empowerment programme is adopted to ensure that the new farmers are adequately supported so they can produce.

The agreement that set up this inclusive Government in Zimbabwe is broad-based and cannot be measured on the radar of agricultural production alone.

It must be measured on national healing concerning matters of the most unfortunate polarity that had taken control of all our political faculties.

Its success must be measured on economic stability. This stability includes sectors such as mining, tourism, retail, manufacturing and the service industry.

There is this most expressive opinion in the West that the acquired land is in the hands of minority Zanu-PF elite and the masses that helped acquire the land have all been sidelined back to their original status of peasantry.

The assertion is that "an elite of a different skin colour" merely displaced another elite.

This is a diversion from the traditional line that the new farmers were unskilled and incapable of producing.

Now they are non-existent as they have been replaced by the Zanu-PF elite and that notorious club of "Mugabe cronies".

If indeed this were true, the question would be the measure of genuineness in the Western sympathisers purporting to be dead worried about the said poor displaced peasants.

Are the advocates of this most admirable truism of social justice on the part of Zimbabwean peasants really worried about the welfare of these people?

One would expect to hear loud cries that this land must be given to the said deprived masses and not returned to the said ousted elite.

The other question is the role of the inclusive Government. Is this Government going to be able to pretend that there are resettled former peasant families when in fact there are not?

If indeed the assertions we hear are true then it must be explained how Zanu-PF has managed to secure MDC complicity in the displacement of the masses by an exclusive elite.

One needs to know why the loudest voices complaining about who owns which piece of land in Zimbabwe are coming from the same quarters that sanctioned the country purely on the basis of total opposition to the principle of redistributing the same land.

It is ironic that the cause of these poor peasants is now being furiously fought for by the people who created the initial crisis of dispossession on their part, and later the crisis of sanctions as punishment for their daring efforts to reclaim their land.

It is like the holier-than-thou fire and brimstone human rights gospel that is often preached with unparalleled Western righteousness.

In this gospel, the victims (real or imagined) of leaders who lack compliance to the world order sought by Western foreign policy are always receiving the highest media sympathy one can ever imagine.

Victims of brutality elsewhere are totally ignored.

That is why Darfur’s alleged 300 000 lost lives are mathematically more than the 655 000 Iraqi lives that were lost because of George W Bush’s excesses.

This is why genocides are by definition, a preserve for those East European communists and the uncivilised Africans while the Israelites are all fine massacring the Palestinian people ritually every time their inspired leadership feels like it is "a time to fight."

This writer thinks that it must be unequivocally spelt out that attempts to abuse the inclusive Government for purposes of gaining leverage on matters involving disgruntled ex-commercial farmers will not and cannot be tolerated in the spirit of rebuilding.

Those politicians who might have the mis-privilege of being tasked to push for the agenda of any form of reversal to the land reforms may really need to explicitly inform their constituency or friends that reversal of the land reform programme is mission impossible.

What is reversible are the sanctions targeted at crippling land reforms.

What is reversible is the ill-wish that the programme should collapse to prove a racist point that blacks cannot farm.

What is reversible is the hostility to the justice of redistributing land in a country where 75 percent of arable land was in the hands of 4 000 white farmers. What are reversible are racial attitudes that say African solutions should be treated with scepticism.

What is reversible is the corruption that crippled the farm mechanisation support programme. What is reversible is under-utilisation of land by uncommitted jokers who applied for land for the sake of adventure and fun.

These are the issues that the inclusive Government should be focusing on.

When it comes to the Land Reform Programme, those still spoiling for a fight may need to be advised to consider not the size of the dog they want to engage in this fight but the size of the fight in the dog.

The war against land redistribution is simply unwinnable and the earlier we move on with empowering the new farmers the better for everyone.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

-Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on or or

No looking back

TOMORROW we mark the 29th anniversary of our Independence, sovereignty and democracy at a time our major political parties have come together to turn swords into ploughshares for nation building.

We also celebrate this venerated day at a time our brothers and sisters in Sadc have rekindled the spirit of the Frontline States that led the charge for political independence, by pledging to help us complete the lap of economic independence.

This solidarity, no doubt, will help us turn our country into a truly independent, unitary state whose independence does not only mean flying our flag over our territory, nor having black faces in Government but non-dependence on anyone but ourselves for our destiny.

This day enjoins us all to invoke the spirit that drove our heroes and heroines through the First and Second Chimurenga wars. We must all pull together if we are to bring our revolution to its logical conclusion.

The inclusive Government — predicated on the legacy laid with the first Cabinet in 1980 — is the foundation stone we should jealously guard.

When we look at the path travelled over the past 29 years, there is every reason to celebrate the achievements scored, gains unparalleled by any nation that attained political independence in our generation, or even those that have been free much longer.

The gains in the social services sector were phenomenal, infrastructure development, housing, you name it. Though considerable damage was wrought to these gains by the ruinous Western economic sanctions, the fact that despite this sustained nine-year assault, our country has not gone under is testimony to the strength of the foundation laid since 1980.

Yes, there are those who point gleefully to the prevailing economic hardships as a sign of failure. We disagree, and disagree with them strongly.

What our nation is experiencing are the pangs of transformation, and any reasonable person can concur that the prevailing socio-economic malaise is a result of illegal Western sanctions, which is why this year’s Independence theme, "Restoring Zimbabwe’s Vibrancy", enjoins us to work for national development, on the back of a genuine land-owning middle class.

That transformation cannot occur overnight, neither can it be cosy, it is a duel with forces whose existence hinges on the continued exploitation of our resources, with us as the labourers.

These are the forces we should all tell today, never again!

Never again will we allow them to reverse the gains we have made, amid so much blood, sweat and tears.

This is the last phase of our struggle, and history tells us that the myopia of those who opted to abet the enemy prolonged the liberation struggle, let us all, from this day forward, speak with one language.

This is why we need, tomorrow, to dedicate ourselves to the ideals of the struggle, close ranks to defeat the machinations of any and all seeking to torpedo and/or reverse our independence.

Thus whether we are Zanu-PF, MDC-T or MDC, we must never forget that we have these choices because of the sacrifices made by our heroes and heroines who fought under the banners of Zanla and Zipra and eventually the united Patriotic Front.

Be that as it may, this day is in no way reserved only for people who identify with the ideals of the struggle, for even those who choose to differ do so in an environment enabled by these gallant sons and daughters of the soil.

Thus they should also join in celebrating the independence and democracy that gives them the latitude to do so without recriminations.

But tomorrow we should all ask ourselves whether our actions are furthering the interest of our country and its people?

Land issue knows no boundaries

EDITOR — Over the past few days, I have been reading a lot about farm disputes in South Africa. These disputes prove that the land issue in Africa is not only about Zimbabwe but the whole region.

It is the truth that we cannot afford to run away from, that land simply has to be re-distributed taking into account that it is a serious imbalance in Africa emanating from a brutal history of colonialism.

Fine, some people might pretend that all the mass killings, the looting of the land by white settlers and all draconian laws meant to disempower Africans were not significant, but the truth is that African land today is very controversial and will remain so as long as the continent’s governments do not address the serious imbalances.

This is exactly what led to Chief Svosve of Mashonaland East province in Zimbabwe in 1998 taking his people onto white-held farms because the Government was being too bureaucratic in dealing with the British government to resolve the land issue in Zimbabwe.

In essence, this is what decolonisation was all about when all the black people in Africa took arms to achieve independence. It was not independence to rename their cities and streets; it was the freedom to rightly reclaim their land.

SA must make sure they resolve this issue now. We cannot have landless blacks in Africa. That is a serious insult to all Africans.

Cde Jairos Tapfuma.

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