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Zimbabwe to US & Britain: GO HANG!

afrikakorps | 02.07.2008 21:50 | Anti-militarism | Anti-racism | Globalisation | World

US, Britain and western nations are calling for more sanctions on Zimbabwe. This is in furtherance of a renewed recolonization of Africa by the west. As we saw with Iraq, sanctions are no less than murder without firing bullets.

The US and Britain just can't allow a country in its crosshairs to function on its own. Both imperialist nations are calling for more sanctions on Zimbabwe. To many westerners, sanctions are a slap on the wrist, but the truth is different. As we saw with Iraq, sanctions are no less than murder without firing bullets...



Hide the following 14 comments

you tell them

03.07.2008 02:12

The axis of evil: US/UK/EU cant let a soveign state run itself, or as Kissinger told us:

'I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people." '


for gods sake

03.07.2008 09:42

brian and whoever else stop this reactionary bullshit now please



03.07.2008 10:42

Regarding the subject of recolonisation of Africa by western nations, perhaps you should also be looking at the Chinese and their involvement in Africa. They are buying it up a piece at a time for timber and minerals and the rest. They have a long history of connections with Zimbabwe including swapping arms for ivory with mugabe.

But of course brian and simon wouldnt dare point a finger at the socialsit utopia that is china now would they.

the watcher

Well said

03.07.2008 15:07

03.07.2008 11:42

Regarding the subject of recolonisation of Africa by western nations, perhaps you should also be looking at the Chinese and their involvement in Africa. They are buying it up a piece at a time for timber and minerals and the rest. They have a long history of connections with Zimbabwe including swapping arms for ivory with mugabe.

But of course brian and simon wouldnt dare point a finger at the socialsit utopia that is china now would they.
the watcher

Well said,!!!!

China = Socialism, Ha! Didn't they try to send a shipment of arm to Zim? And nobody would unload the ship...

Three cheers for the dock workers, I would've gone one step further and dumped it in the sea.


rooibus, red bush tea, Brian. Just infuse it for a few minutes & sip.

03.07.2008 15:34

Great stuff. Sorts you out. You won't worry about the plural or singular of axis after a few cups of that.

steady breaths - out through the mouth - in through the nose

Zimbabwe Peoples' Assembly

03.07.2008 21:34

Zimbabwe and the US can go hang, (.... what, as some of the rural poor of Zimbabwe have been?)

ZanuPF's anti-colonial badge when in demonstrating their right to self-rule means you can neglect and bash around the ruled-over instead of your former-colonial oppressor. That makes you no better than him.

Simon and Brian can quote Black nationalism all they want, but fact is, if the people are oppressed the way they are, then it's all bollocks.


the good news

04.07.2008 10:44

seems to be that brian and simon have stopped spamming the newswire since their favourite tin pot dictator got 'reelected'. That is good news for us, but bad news for the oppressed in Zimbabwe.

good work to all those that opposed brimon's support for the vile old socialsit dictator.

the watcher

Apologies to the white Left, perhaps

04.07.2008 12:47

As, I've stated elsewhere, I come to believe that most of the anti-Zanu-PF voices are actually Rhodies pretending to be Left.

The white Left has been so duped that their analysis on Zimbabwe has little difference with the white farmer/white neo-colonialist position. So, white Left bodies happily attack Mugabe and remain silent about interference from Western capitalist elites.

Their position on Zimbabwe and socialism is bizarre. They appear to argue:
- Mugabe is unpopular because he is a capitalist - this is despite the fact that there are pro-capitalist leaders all over the Third World without the opposition there is in Zimbabwe;
- Western capitalists do not like Mugabe the capitalist - at this point the white Left position is gobbledygook;
- MDC must be supported because it came out of the trade union movement;
- the MDC is more capitalist than Mugabe because - silence from the white Left
- black Zimbabweans support the MDC because they don't want capitalism - more gobbledygook
- Western capitalists' position on Zimbabwe is believable because they are not as capitalist than Mugabe
- Western capitalists finance the MDC because they care about human rights
- Mugabe's anti-colonialism fools black Zimbabweans because the white Left in the UK and US know more about Zimbabwe than they do, even, though the black Zimbabweans they support want more capitalism
- UK media highlight Zimbabwean's human rights position more than other countries' with a worst human rights record because they care about human rights in countries the West do not like.

The position of the white Left on Zimbabwe is total gobbledygook. They don't think about their contradictions because their position is heavily influenced by white supremacy and hostility to black self-determination.

But must anti-Mugabe 'spammers' on this site are totally oblivious to these contradictions and have no problem backing whites hostile to Zimbabwean independence. Their strategy is that of white farmers and Western capitalists- undermine Mugabe through attacks on alleged human rights abuses without any need to be sceptical about any allegation. Genuine white Left, who are nonetheless confused, would express more doubts about the Western capitalist position. This rarely happens here. This means that the anti-Mugabe 'spammers' are not really Left.

To regard Chinese investment and activity in Africa as imperialism is ridiculous. Name one African government they have overturned through covert or overt means?

I 'spam' less because I don't want to waste my time with racist Rhodies and because there is less of a media obsession with Zimbabwe.


the rape of africa

04.07.2008 14:31

Dear Simon,

I thought we had seen the last of you now your tin pot dictator has won his rigged election, sadly I was wrong. Frankly you really have no idea what you are talking about, if you are the best that the zim embassy can put up to support their dictator then they really are in bad shape aren’t they.

Accusing people that choose to oppose a brutal regime of being rhodies is absurd, I am not nor have I ever been a rhody. I am an ordinary non left non right non black non white anarchist concerned about ordinary people being persecuted, intimidated and tortured to protect an illegitimate regime headed by and egotistical tin pot dictator. In exactly the same way I oppose each and every ‘leader’ that masquerades as a man of the people with only the best interest of the citizens at heart, whilst systematically torturing and killing their own.

I do not support the MDC and I do not support ZPF, but I particularly despise mugabe and his disgusting attempts to cling on to power. His struggle is based on lies and intimidation and the people that suffer are the ordinary people of zimbabwe, just as everywhere the poor suffer while the political elite live off the fat of the land.

The people of zimbabwe need to kick this arsehole out, maybe nail him to a tree too – although that would be stooping to his level of violence. So if other nations can help get rid of him and stop the suffering of the ordinary people then good, so be it. He has it coming.

This is not about a clash of socialism and capitalism or west and africa, this is about people suffering, starvation, hardship, torture and murder at the hands of a tyrant.

I know as do most others that there are plenty of places and people in the world that are suffering and I stand in solidarity with them all. But you talk about zimbabwe and so I respond about zimbabwe. If you want to discuss other places then great lets do it.

I should also say this is not white supremacy or any kind of attack on black self determination; this is about power crazed politicians killing people.

Name one sentence where I have been in any way hostile to zim independence, I haven’t, let them do what they want I am all for that, but I am opposed as any right thinking person should be to the way their tin pot dictator behaves. He is no better than stalin, mao, bush, blair. Simply put he is a power hungry politician who doesn’t give a fuck about anything than his own well being and that of his coterie of scum that support him.

Regarding the chinese, you are happy that they are raping africa for its wealth, timber, minerals and everything else they can get their hands on are you? Of course you are they are communist / socialists so they must be ok. You obviously know little about the way things work, chinese imperialism is real and happening in africa, they don’t need to overturn governments, they have already bought them and are slowly slowly stealing the wealth of africa. It is imperialism with chinese characteristics.

Wise up simon, mugabe is a tyrant and Africa is being raped both by the west and the east, capitalist and communist. Although it should be said that there really is no difference at all these days.

the watcher


05.07.2008 12:01

Response to Simon
I get my analysis on Zimbabwe from black activists in that country - for instance the International Socialist Organisation, the Zimbabwe Social Forum and all the organisations under the umbrella of the Zimbabwe People's Convention who signed up to the Zimbabwe Peoples' Charter Ref:
The position of the real Black Left of Zimbabwe - the International Socialist Organisation - can be read here:

It is nonsense for you to assume that this particular non-appeaser of Mugabe has formed this opinion by being duped by pro-western anti-Mugabe propaganda. For most of your detractors on these threads, their objection to Mugabe and ZanuPF are on their own terms, because this government exacts brutal suppression of political opponents and commandeer ruthless execution of political power in partnership with military rule. For a more in-depth run through of why I believe ZanuPF are discredited, then read the following (if you dare):

Record of ZanuPF:

ZanuPF represent a ethnic (Shona) capitalist bourgeois elite, propped up by the military and the war-veteran support base, who:
- successfully led the independence struggle alongside Joshua Nkomo's mainly Ndebele PFZapu against Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front, also known as The Second Chimurenga, or as Zimbabwe's liberation war, resulting in a negotiated settlement through British initiated negotiations culminating in the Lancaster House Constitutional Agreement in 1979.
- Successfully defended Zimbabwean territory in border clashes against South African Afrikaner forces in the Border Wars of the 1980s
- committed war crimes within an internal civil war between ZanuPF forces and Zapu guerillas in Matabeleland during the 1980s, when the 5th brigade killed 10,000 Ndebele
- foollishly entered into IMF loan package, which amounted to a $5 billion debt by the year 2000.
- hoarded land amongst their patronage networks and cronies, at the expense of the majority of the rural poor during the 1990s, when financial constraints meant the land redistribution process even after the 1992 Land Acquisition Act, was always going to be limited under the shadow of IMF austerity
- from the late 1980s, were responsible for a woeful record on investment in agricultural infrastructure such as credit facilities, transportation, agricultural marketing, seed production, distribution of fertilizers and water management
- corrupted the land redistribution process, and in turn, sacrificed the long-term food producing and currency earning capability of the country, destroying the central dynamic of the Zimbabwean economy
- alleged suppression of opponents and election irregularities in the 2000 & 2002 election in Zimbabwe
- Completely mismanaged the economy by allowing cash-baron beneficiaries of Zimbabwe's patronage networks to print loads and loads of extra currency, so that the total currency in circulation was vastly in excess of the underlying productive resources of the country, leading to hyper-inflation
- financially enriched a priviledged elite and maintaining high salaries for the military, state police and civil service whilst neglecting public sector workers and allowing the mass of the population to endure hunger, starvation and severe economic hardship, - allowed the new capitalist farming entrants to treat the farm workers no better than the previous settlers
- The paying off of all outstanding debts to the IMF in 2006
- The introduction of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill, legislation which stipulates that every company operating in the country must have at least 51% of its shares owned by indigenous Zimbabweans, in 2008
- election irregularities and brutal suppression of Zanu PF's political opponents in the run-off election has been so severe that even countries within SADC such as Zambia, Tanzania and Angola have broken ranks from the previous "benefit-of-the-doubt" consensus
afforded to Zimbabwe, criticising the manner in which the election run-off has been handled in regard to intimidation and election irregularites.


the watcher

05.07.2008 12:24

Anarchism was created as a tool of Western governments. Before you start rolling your eyes, I'll remind you of the World War I. An anarchist shoot Archduke Ferdinand and the Austrians blames the Serbian government.

You say you are not Left, or Right, or a capitalist or a supporter of Western governments. But nonetheless you chose to believe their account of Zimbabwe. The fact that the West, Bush, Blair and Brown is claiming their interest in Zimbabwe is human rights, should be enough to cause someone interested in progress to become sceptical about what they hear about the country.

If it is as they say it is:
why no popular armed resistance - there's one in Columbia
why do you not hear about MDC violence
why are African countries not keen to condemn Mugabe
why does Mugabe both with elections
if Mugabe supporters are corrupt, mercenaries, why don't they side with the West where they would get more money than from someone who has economically ruined his country

You believe the story that Mugabe was -
a psycho when he fought for liberation,
sane and rational after independence,
a psycho when he 'massacred 20,000',
sane and rational when he followed the IMF and was given a knighthood, and
a psycho now after ditching the IMF, saving 30,000 lives in the Congo and returned land to black people.

You accuse me of not knowing anything about Zimbabwe but I've actually gone travelled there. I was there in April 2007 when we saw pictures of a beaten up Tsvangirai. I had the chance to talk to people.

Are you trying to con someone?
Delegation of Elected Officials
New York City Council Member Charles Barron
New York City Council Member James Davis
New York State Assembly Member Adam Clayton Powell IV
Illinois State Senator Donne Trotter


Introduction 4
Historical Background 4
Land Issue 6
Politics and Democracy 10
Human Rights 11
Economy 12
Conclusions 13

Recommendations 14


The following is a report of the facts collected by a delegation of elected officials on a recent fact-finding mission to the Republic of Zimbabwe from October 11, 2002 to October 23, 2002.

The elected officials include Council Member Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), Council Member James Davis (D-Brooklyn), Assembly Member Adam Clayton Powell IV (D-Harlem) and State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago).

During the course of the trip the delegation met with several government officials including:

His Excellency President Robert Mugabe
Secretary of State Information and Publicity - George Charamba
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs - Patrick Chinamasa
Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement - Joseph Made
Minister of Science and Technology - Olivia Muchena (former Deputy Minister of Agriculture)
Registrar General - Tobaiwa Mudede

In addition, the group met with war veterans, white farmers, resettled black peasant farmers as well as several opposition groups including:

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
Elias Mudzuri - Mayor of Harare

main political opposition party Misheck Shoku - Mayor of Chitungwiza

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) Colin Cloete - President

white commercial farmers union David Hasluck - Director

The Daily News Jeoffrey Nyarota - Editor-in-Chief

main independent opposition newspaper

Amani Trust Frances Lovemore - Director

medical human rights NGO

The delegation also met with the United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Joseph Sullivan and his senior staff.

N.B. For reference purposes, throughout the report where hectares is used as a unit of land measurement, please note that 1 hectare is the equivalent of 2.5 acres.


At the invitation of the Zimbabwean government, a delegation of elected officials and research staff visited Zimbabwe on a fact-finding trip from October 11, 2002 to October 23, 2002. The trip was jointly organized by the Mission of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the United Nations and the Office of New York City Council Member Charles Barron.

Due to extremely negative Western media reports regarding land reform in Zimbabwe, the purpose of the fact-finding trip was to examine the land reform program in Zimbabwe and meet with all the stakeholders involved including government officials, members of the political opposition, landless peasants, war-veterans and white commercial farmers. The delegation also planned to meet with officials from the MDC party and human rights organizations.

Momentum for the trip grew when New York City Council Member Charles Barron hosted a reception at City Hall for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe after he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in September. On this historic occasion, President Mugabe was welcomed to City Hall by 18 City Council Members most of whom are members of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. During a press conference after the reception, President Mugabe, who is routinely vilified in the Western media, had a unique opportunity to address a crowded room full of Western journalists directly. He discussed the land redistribution program and the history leading up to it, including the fact that the British government had pulled out of its previous commitments to provide funding to compensate white farmers who had forcibly acquired land from Africans during the colonial period. There was enormous media coverage of the event and for the first time, major Western news publications including the New York Times, reported on President Mugabe’s position on land reform after hearing it from him directly.

Before the trip Council Member Barron stated, “There has been a great deal of negative press from the Western media surrounding the issue of land reform. This fact-finding trip will allow us to see for ourselves what is really happening there. Our hope is to gain insight into the situation and present facts that would assist the United States in making decisions that will benefit all the people of Zimbabwe.”

Historical Background

The African country now known as Zimbabwe was colonized in the late 1880's by Cecil Rhodes, who claimed the land for the British Empire after fierce armed resistance by the Africans. A British colony was then established and the area was known as Southern Rhodesia. As the British colony grew and commercial farming became more widespread, white settlers claimed over 80% of the country’s most arable land even though they made up only 3% of the population. The British government rewarded many of its ex-soldiers with free land in the colony. The indigenous population were treated as tenants, forced to work on farms or simply displaced to native reserves. These native reserves were called communal lands and located in arid, rocky areas that were unsuitable for any type of agriculture. Under the apartheid government of Rhodesia, native Africans were subjected to brutal atrocities such as forced labor, murder, rape and execution by hanging.

In 1965, Ian Smith, who was then Rhodesia’s white Prime Minister, made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence after Britain refused to allow Rhodesia to decolonize as an independent white supremacist state. Yet Britain also refused to intervene militarily, claiming they could not send military forces to confront their “kith and kin” in Rhodesia. The British also did not support any strong sanctions against Rhodesia including an arms embargo as demanded by African nationalists in the country and leaders of independent African states. That is one reason why the current sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe by the U.S. and other Western countries, after heavy international lobbying by Britain, is regarded as cynical and racist by the Mugabe government. Smith had vowed that there would never be black majority rule “not even in a thousand years.”

By the mid-1960's, African nationalist guerillas had become better armed and their struggle to overthrow the white minority regime intensified. In 1972, the two major guerilla armies, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) led by Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) led by Joshua Nkomo combined and became more effective in their war against the white supremacist regime of Ian Smith. With support from neighboring African countries such as Zambia and Mozambique, the liberation forces prevailed and forced Smith’s government to the negotiating table at Lancaster House in England.

In 1980, under the Lancaster House Agreement, Zimbabwe won its independence resulting in elections where Africans could vote for the first time. Running against guerilla ally Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe was elected the first President of Zimbabwe. After waging a bitter struggle for liberation, President Mugabe, in his celebrated inaugural address advocated for reconciliation against their former enemies. He urged all citizens of Zimbabwe, both black and white, to work together to bring the country back on its feet. It was along this vein of reconciliation that Ian Smith, who many considered a war criminal responsible for 60,000 lives lost during the liberation struggle, was allowed to remain in Zimbabwe rather than standing trial for war crimes. Smith to this day resides in Zimbabwe and owns a farm that is 2,500 hectares which is roughly 6,250 acres.

The Lancaster House Agreement provided that there would be land redistribution but only on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis. The negotiations were deadlocked for 12 days and nearly collapsed because of the land issue. It was only rescued after the British government agreed that they would compensate farmers for the land with some additional funding from the U.S., then under the Carter administration. Andrew Young, the U.S. Ambassador to the Lancaster negotiations, was instrumental in breaking the deadlock. The signatories also agreed that the terms of the Lancaster Agreement would not be amended for at least 10 years. Thus, from 1980 to 1990, the Zimbabwean government honored Lancaster and land reform was extremely slow. As it turned out, when commercial farmers were faced with the option of compensation versus keeping their land, they almost always chose to keep their land. After having won political independence, Zimbabwe’s economic independence was thus compromised by a nation of “unwilling sellers.”

The situation worsened in 1997 when the Labor Party under Tony Blair took office. Britain refused to honor the previous financial commitments that the Conservative Party had made on the land issue under Margaret Thatcher and John Major. Prime Minister Blair essentially reneged on the Lancaster Agreement and refused to provide compensation for displaced commercial farmers claiming Britain did not have the money. Furthermore, after several requests for renewed funding by the Zimbabwean government, a letter was sent by Claire Short, Britain’s Minister of International Development, stating that the current Labor administration of Britain did not acknowledge any colonial responsibilities of the former Conservative Party.

As economic tensions grew over the gross inequalities in land ownership (4,000 white farmers owned three-quarters of the arable land in a country of 13 million), the landless peasants and war-veterans grew increasingly frustrated and outraged. Veterans of the liberation war were especially angry since reclamation of the land was one of the primary reasons for the armed struggle. Tensions finally spilled over in 1998 when groups of landless peasants and war-veterans began occupying the huge farms owned by commercial farmers as a statement of political protest. Initially, the government attempted to halt the farm occupations and urged protestors to wait for proper funding to finance a land reform program. Finally, faced with no other alternatives due to the endless stonewalling of Britain and an increasingly agitated populous, the government decided to act. As Minister Chinamasa stated, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

In 1999, the Zimbabwean Government launched an agrarian revolution and implemented the Fast Track Land Program in order to finally reclaim the land and redistribute it equitably among the landless people of Zimbabwe. The government policy underlying this program was “one person, one farm,” whereby any commercial farmer who had more than one farm, which was often the case, had to choose one that they could keep while relinquishing the remaining land for resettlement. The government then offered to pay commercial farmers compensation for the infrastructure on the land acquired, such as buildings and irrigation systems, but not for the land itself. In addition, the government amended the country’s Constitution to state that commercial farmers would be compensated for the land once Britain made the funds available. It can be argued that the Fast Track Land program actually averted serious bloodshed. Since the program was implemented, the farm occupations and accompanying violence also stopped. Minister Muchena used an interesting analogy when she stated, “The land reform program was a revolution not a tea party; even at a tea party sometimes the tea spills and the linens are soiled. I actually feel we should be commended as a government for containing what could have been a bloodbath in the style of the Russian or French revolution.”

Land Issue

The Western media have made many allegations against the Zimbabwean government’s land reform program. In our meetings with various stakeholders affected by the program, we find that these claims are largely unsubstantiated and are actually exaggerations or distortions of what is actually happening there.

The projected famine that threatens not only Zimbabwe but all of Southern Africa cannot be substantially attributed to the land reform program as previous media reports have charged. Drought has devastated the region for two years and prior to that were devastating floods. These appear to be the main causes of the decrease in agricultural output in the nation. The declining production has directly resulted in a profound food shortage of major staple crops such as wheat and maize by which the country feeds itself. The role of commercial farmers in staple food production has been exaggerated by Western media reports. In fact, even white commercial farmers we met with confirmed that 70% of the country’s maize crop is produced by peasant farmers on communal lands. It can in fact be argued that with fertile lands now allocated to peasant farmers and with a good rain season, food crop production will increase substantially. Moreover, most white commercial farmers had long since abandoned crop farming and instead turned to other more lucrative industries such as horticulture, tobacco, paprika, citrus, game ranching and safari services. We visited white commercial farmer, Stephen Wilkenson, in Masvingo Province who had given up half his land for resettlement this year and still owns 2,500 hectares (6,250 acres). He rears ostrich, grows citrus and has a tourist lodge.

Because of white commercial farmers’ shift away from food crop farming, 80%-90% of the country’s prime land is underutilized or laying fallow which remarkably never appears in Western media accounts. For these reasons cited above, there appears to be no direct link between land redistribution and the current food shortage.

During our meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Joseph Sullivan, he stated that the main social crisis in Zimbabwe was AIDS, which is their primary focus in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control and a $14 million U.S. commitment. He also stated that the threat of famine was imminent if there failed to be normal rainfall this season. He said food assistance from external donor commitments, with $50 million from the U.S., would make up for the production deficit until next March, after which additional pledges were required if normal output did not resume. William Weissman, an American economist at the embassy, stated that the main problem was price control of certain crops by a government struggling to adhere to outdated forms of socialism. Neither Ambassador Sullivan nor his staff could state that the land reform program directly caused the food shortage. In fact, since our return, the Zimbabwean government has announced sweeping new price controls over a wide range of products in an effort to control hyperinflation.

We had a meeting with the President and Director of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), Colin Cloete and David Hasluck respectively, which in hindsight turned out to be very critical and significant. Hasluck acknowledged that the British government, under Prime Minister Tony Blair, has ignored the history and colonial legacy of the land question. The British government’s rejection of any compensation also led to the current stalemate with the Zimbabwean government. Government officials including President Mugabe later informed the delegation that had the CFU adopted a joint policy with the government the likelihood of success in securing British compensation would have vastly increased. Within days of the statement by the CFU leadership, Lord Carrington, who had presided over the Lancaster negotiations, made a speech in the British Parliament urging Tony Blair to compensate white farmers. In the 22 year period since Zimbabwe’s independence, the British government provided 35 million pounds sterling for land acquisition in Zimbabwe. In contrast to this, Kenya, which became independent in 1963 and also had a white minority population controlling most of the land received 532 million pounds in just 10 years.

We also found that despite a steady flow of Western media reports of a lawless, free-for-all land grab of commercial farms, this is not the case at all. There is in fact, a very systematic organized program in place. Minister Joseph Made, who is imminently qualified with a Master’s degree and PhD in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin, one of the world’s leading agricultural institutions, gave the delegation a very detailed presentation about the specifics of the land reform program. The two main objectives of the program were decongestion of communal areas and decentralization of the commercial farm areas from the white minority to the people of Zimbabwe.

Land pegged for redistribution was targeted according to the following criteria: derelict or underutilized land, land under multiple ownership, foreign-owned land (land owned by foreigners for holiday or speculative purposes), and land adjacent to highly congested communal areas. For the time being, the government has exempted coffee, tea, sugarcane and timbre plantation farms until a plan is in place that would not disrupt these industries. Farms belonging to church organizations, missions and wildlife conservancies are also exempt as are lands under bilateral agreements with investors. The program, including redistribution of land, resettlement and support services would cost $1 billion U.S.

There is a system in place where anybody who wants land must formally apply for it. The level of financial means available to a particular applicant determines whether they are placed in the Agriculture 1 (A1) model, which is geared towards landless peasants, or the Agriculture 2 (A2) model, which is geared towards applicants who have the financial means and skills to maintain agricultural productivity on a commercial farm. These are essentially the commercial farmer hopefuls. Under the A1 model, peasant farmers are given 6 hectares for cropping and 12 hectares for communal cattle grazing for an average of 15-20 hectares per family. Under the A2 model, prospective commercial farmers who can prove that they have their own economic means and skills to maintain a commercial farm may receive up to 2,000 hectares depending on the arability of the land. Generally, the more arable the land, the less land is allotted; the less arable the land, the more land is allotted since these presumably require more expenditure for irrigation.

It is important to note that the program was structured with principles of fairness in mind. For example, since commercial farmland adjacent to communal areas was a top priority, in those rare cases where a white commercial farmer only had a single farm that was adjacent to a communal area, the government would acquire the farm but in return, the owner was invited to choose any other property that the government had already acquired and the owner could relocate there at the government’s expense.

There is a widespread misconception that peasant farmers with absolutely no farming knowledge or farming skills are plopped down on pieces of land and then left to their own devices. This is not the case. Peasant farmers who are resettled under the A1 model, in most cases, have experience as farm workers on commercial farms or have experience from working their own communal farms. The government provides them with inputs such as seeds and fertilizer as well as agricultural education; they are expected to repay the government for these inputs once they generate surpluses. They are also assigned an agricultural officer who monitors their progress and provides ongoing advice and expertise. We visited resettled peasant farms in the Masvingo Province and were able to confirm this firsthand during our interviews with resettled peasant farmers some of whom laughed when we asked about reports that the departure of white farmers placed them at risk. Invariably, the peasant farmers said they did not know of any Africans who do not know how to farm.

To date, 310,000 families under A1 and 54,000 families under A2, have been resettled since the land reform program began in 2000. In light of that fact, we find the charge that President Mugabe only gives land to his “cronies” to be not credible. We are hard pressed to believe that anyone could have that many “cronies.”

We also found that nobody disagrees with the justice of land reform in Zimbabwe. Everyone we met with, including white farmers and officials of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supports land redistribution. There are more than 1,500 white Zimbabwean farmers who continue to actively farm their land in peace even after having part of their land acquired for resettlement. The charges of a brutal “ethnic cleansing,” as alleged by the Australian government for example, is a gross distortion of what is actually happening. We can only assume that such charges are politically motivated. Commercial farmers are not being forced out of their homes and onto the streets with nowhere to go. They are simply being asked to choose which farm they would like to keep and they are then compensated for the infrastructure on the remaining land acquired by the government. Oftentimes, the cost of compensation for complicated infrastructure systems far exceeded the cost of the land alone.

As with the issue of drought and impending famine, we also now know that the land reform issue is a regional problem that also affects South Africa and Namibia. In both countries, due to their similar colonial legacy, the white minority commercial farmers own 80% of the land. In South Africa, for example, up to 700 white farmers are killed on an annual basis because of tension over land, yet there has been no critical media coverage of it. In contrast, a total of 11 white farmers lost their lives in Zimbabwe during the Fast Track Land program. It has been argued that the hostility by the British government towards the Fast Track program is designed to intimidate the governments of South Africa and Namibia from instituting similar drastic land reforms. Land reform in Namibia is currently tied up since it also adopted a “willing buyer, willing seller” policy. In South Africa, white right-wing terrorist groups who have initiated bombing campaigns against black civilians, have openly stated that they want to pre-empt a Mugabe-type land reform. Indeed, it is no surprise that the governments of South Africa and Namibia supported Zimbabwe’s land reform program. Also, there is clearly global support for it. During the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development last summer in Johannesburg, President Mugabe received a standing ovation by other world leaders while Secretary of State Colin Powell was jeered especially when he attacked the Zimbabwe government.

Politics and Democracy

The media has depicted the political climate in Zimbabwe in such a way that the widely held perception is that Zimbabwe had elections in 1980 and never again until the Parliamentary elections of 2000. Contrary to this misrepresentation, Zimbabwe has had consistent Parliamentary elections every 5 years and Presidential elections every 6 years since independence in 1980. As Minister Muchena aptly pointed out, this is certainly a far cry from the situation in the former country of Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the brutal despot Mobutu Sese Seko reigned for 33 years without a single election; yet he was one of the staunchest U.S. allies in Africa and was received several times at the White House. Democracy was never questioned during Mobutu’s regime and he had the unqualified support of the United States and other Western nations until his eventual overthrow by the late Laurent Kabila. The Minister also pointed out that another “Western darling” is Uganda, governed under a one-party system and racked by civil war. These are the type of double standards that raise questions about the true motives of the concerted attack against the Mugabe government.

It has also been widely reported that the press are routinely suppressed, however, we found a reasonably vibrant free press in the country. There are several other independent newspapers besides the Daily News which are openly critical of the government. These include The Daily Mirror, The Standard and The Financial Gazette. They appeared to be able to go about their daily business without interruption and we were able to obtain these newspapers everyday with relatively little effort. In fact, at the newsstand in the Sheraton Hotel where we stayed while in Harare, the Daily News was often sold out before 8:30 AM.

It is true that the printing press of the Daily News was bombed earlier this year as widely reported and we did observe windows that had been presumably broken by bricks when we visited their main offices to meet with the Editor-in-Chief, Jeoffrey Nyarota. While we condemn these violent acts, it is certainly not surprising that these incidents occur in light of the polarized political climate of a developing nation.

In our meetings with opposition groups, we found that there is political violence around elections from both the ruling ZANU-PF party and the MDC. Opposition groups reported to us that the preponderance of the violence stems from militant ZANU-PF supporters while ZANU-PF maintains that just the opposite is true, and the MDC is actually responsible for initiating the violence.

While ZANU-PF has most of its support in the rural areas where 70% of the population live, the MDC holds strong support in the urban areas. In the 2000 Parliamentary elections, MDC won 57 seats while ZANU-PF won 62. The Constitution permits the President to appoint 12 Parliamentarians, hence the government’s extra majority. Three major cities Harare, Bulawayo and Masvingo all have Mayors who are MDC members. The government acknowledged that wage earners in urban areas were dissatisfied as hyperinflation eroded their income and thus voted for the MDC. “We have accepted their victories,” President Mugabe stated in the meeting with the delegation, “while they have failed to accept ours.” He noted that the MDC continues to petition the Courts to annul ZANU-PF victories.

We met with the Mayors of Harare and outlying suburb Chitungwiza at the MDC headquarters. Although government officials stated that the MDC wanted land to be returned to white farmers, the MDC asserted that they do strongly support the land reform program. However, they charged that land program applicant lists were being screened in such a way that only ZANU-PF members are given land. They also charged that due to the large number of MDC seats won in urban areas, the number of polling sites in these areas were being deliberately reduced. Registrar-General Mudede, who presides over elections, confirmed that the number of polling sites were being reduced. His reasoning was that in cities, polling stations are in close proximity of each other while in rural areas people had to walk as far as 20 km in order to vote. The polling stations removed from urban areas were moved to rural areas in order to make them more accessible to rural voters.

In response to allegations of election fraud by the MDC, Registrar-General Mudede stated that there were autonomous bodies that serve as checks and balances in such a way that election fraud is not possible. He did concede that those appointed to these bodies which include the Election Directorate and the Election Supervisory Commission are government officials. Registrar-General Mudede confirmed that people from other parties are never appointed to these commissions. He stressed to the delegation that if the government party was engaged in vote rigging why, then, would they have allowed themselves to lose 57 seats in the 2000 Parliamentary elections.

In our meeting with President Mugabe, he stated that there were several delegations of election observers from the African Union, the OAU’s successor body, including 3 groups from South Africa, who observed the Presidential elections and found them to be extremely meticulous. He stated that the MDC wants to remove the government through violence thus “to include them in our midst is to have chaos in the party.” He challenged Prime Minister Tony Blair to “teach by example” by appointing Conservative Party members to his Cabinet. When questioned about how the government will jump start the economy, President Mugabe responded, “An enlightened society will always find its way into the future.” He outlined several programs, including one to vastly increase the production of wheat as well as to increase the utilization of the cotton crop by using portions for textiles rather than relying mostly on export of the raw product.

Human Rights

The delegation met with Dr. Frances Lovemore, the Director of Amani Trust, a medical human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides support services and medical care to victims of violence and torture.

Dr. Lovemore was reported to be the source of the account about “rape camps” that appeared in London’s Daily Telegraph. It is important to note that such an account has never appeared in a major newspaper such as The New York Times, which has nonetheless published many articles critical of the government. No one we met with including MDC officials spoke of such a camp. Indeed, it is hard to believe that a newspaper such as The New York Times would not have published an article about the existence of such camps by now. Moreover, Dr. Lovemore informed the delegation that Amani Trust only comments on cases it sees in their offices. Dr. Lovemore herself was arrested several months ago for making false accusations against the government. Her case is currently pending.

Though Dr. Lovemore maintains that at least 10 patients treated were victims of politically motivated rape, she stated that there was no evidence or documentation to corroborate stories that groups of women were being raped for political reasons in military-style camps. She did state that most of these rapes were gang rapes perpetrated by an out of control youth militia who engage in systematic detainments and beatings. Government officials have denied these reports.

Dr. Lovemore reported that the violence they see appears to be organized political violence which comes from both political parties, however, she stated that over 92% is perpetrated by ZANU-PF. During the elections, the violence is more targeted and there is an upswing in patients treated each time there is an election or by-election.

The government has always questioned the independence and neutrality of Amani Trust. Indeed, after Amani Trust had steadfastly denied that one of its major sources of funding is the British government, the country most hostile to the land reform program, The Herald, the government-controlled newspaper, published a copy of a check drawn from the British High Commission in Harare for a substantial amount. Dr. Lovemore acknowledged the check’s authenticity.

In response to the government accusation that Amani Trust is a political instrument of Britain, Dr. Lovemore stated that though they are funded by a number of international donors including Britain, the U.S., Sweden and Norway they have no agenda except treating victims of violence and preventing long term effects of injury. She stated that any countries who provide funding have no influence over Amani’s activities in any way. In fact, their long term goal is to be financially independent no longer having to rely on international donor funding.

The Western media have also leveled many charges against the government of homophobia and persecution of people believed to be homosexuals. In all of our meetings, not one group, government or opposition, could state that people were being persecuted or jailed purely based on their sexual orientation. The issue of homosexuality is viewed by Zimbabweans as a sensitive cultural issue and that homosexuals are tolerated so long as they keep their private lives in private, similar to the former U.S. military policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” As Minister Olivia Muchena stated, “We are a nation of contradictions.” “We are revolutionary politically, but conservative and traditional culturally.”


While Zimbabwe is primarily an agricultural-based economy, it has a significant industrial base contributing to about 25% of its Gross Domestic Product, which is significant in Africa as most countries there rely more than 90% on agriculture.

However, while we saw numerous factories in Harare’s industrial area – and there are others spread across the country – this sector has been adversely impacted by fuel shortage and lack of other imported inputs, which require convertible currency such as U.S. dollars. The foreign currency shortage has caused significant economic contraction and in the most recent budget the government announced that the economy is projected to shrink by more than 10%. Zimbabwe had alleviated some of its oil shortage by negotiating a preferential purchase agreement – in exchange for agricultural land – with the Libyan government. However, it has been reported that this arrangement may have recently been scrapped. A local Zimbabwe newspaper, The Mirror, reports that the British government sent a high-level delegation to urge Libya to abandon the deal. If these reports are accurate, it now seems that the British government has launched a vicious and personalized campaign to bring down the Zimbabwe government. As a result of the fuel and foreign exchange shortage, we expect inflation to accelerate, leading to more suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.

Moreover, Zimbabwe has not had access to funding from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for six years now, government officials pointed out. Very few African countries would have survived such a freeze on short-term and development capital access.

We are convinced that increased agricultural production, with the newly acquired lands by new farmers, will in the long run lead to economic growth in Zimbabwe. As the Justice Minister Chinamasa pointed out, previously 13 million Zimbabweans were dependent on 4,000 white farmers; now the more than 300,000 families are working on their new lands.


We found that Fast Track is now not reversible and that the British government, the country most hostile to the program, should reassess its strategy of dealing with the Zimbabwe government. Indeed, even if it preferred an MDC government, the previous status quo in terms of the inequitable land ownership, will never return. Even MDC and white farmers acknowledged the need for land reform.

We found the media accounts to be exaggerated in many respects when dealing with the modalities of the land reform program, freedom of the press and human rights conditions. In fact, despite its current financial difficulties through a combination of drought and external sanctions, Zimbabwe remains one of the most stable countries in Africa. Its economy also is still the largest on the continent after South Africa’s.

We found government officials to be open and frank in all our discussions, responding to tough questions about allegations of human rights abuse and land reform mismanagement. We were impressed by the access we were permitted to meet with individuals and organizations of our choice.

We found a country where all sides agree that land reform is an idea whose time has come yesterday. The main disagreement is over the modality. No individual or group could state that the status quo, with whites who make up a minuscule minority owning more than three-quarters of fertile agricultural land, was acceptable.

We found that Zimbabwe, whose economy also depends on exports for foreign exchange earnings, has a serious shortage of convertible currency through a combination of diminished production of export crops such as tobacco – the government has made the hard choice of settling the simmering land issue and this has affected some export crop productions – as well as a decline in imports of Zimbabwe’s products from industrial countries due to the sanctions. This has resulted in a high demand for foreign currency and resulted in a parallel market where foreign exchange fetches as much as 20 times more than the official rate.

We found that the food shortage could worsen if sanctions continue and if the normal rain pattern does not resume; however, as already noted, the food crises affects the entire Southern Africa region and Zimbabwe certainly should not be singled out or scapegoated for its land reform policy.

We see no moral or strategic justification for sanctions considering that Western countries refused to impose comprehensive sanctions against Ian Smith’s racist regime – and thus prolonged apartheid in Zimbabwe – or against the South African government during apartheid. Sanctions kill, and affect the poor people the most. In the words of Albert Mugari, a high school student we met in the low-income district of Mbare, in Harare: “We are not in favor of sanctions. The ordinary people suffer the most. The higher classes don’t suffer. They have passports and can get out of the country.”

We found that the new peasant farmers are very grateful to the government to have been provided with land and that they have begun to work the land.

We found that there certainly is still a role for white farmers in Zimbabwe who have accepted the new dispensation and who are willing to accept the policy of “one farmer, one farm.”

We found that there is a strong opposition; in fact, given the 57 seats in Parliament the MDC is probably the largest functioning opposition party in Africa. Of course we would like to see dialogue between the government and opposition in order to decrease political tension and pave the way to economic development.

We found that there is definitely a double standard when Western countries, primarily Britain and the United States, talk about “democracy” and “human rights” in Africa and the government is justified in questioning the motives behind some of the attacks from Western countries and their imposition of sanctions. We can list several African countries that have very cozy relations with the United States despite their abysmal human rights record and lack of tolerance for democratic opposition.


[] We urge the British government to reconsider its position and agree to compensate white farmers for their land. In the process, it should also discuss compensation for the expropriation of the land from the original African population.

[] We vigorously oppose imposition of new sanctions and urge for the removal of all existing sanctions.

[] We call for the immediate lifting of travel restrictions on Zimbabwean officials. How can the U.S. have dialogue with North Korea and Iraq, in the interest of peace, while preventing Zimbabwe officials from traveling to articulate their position?

[] We call upon the United States government to develop its own independent policy to deal with Zimbabwe rather than blindly following the British. As the former colonial rulers with vested commercial interests we cannot expect the British to have a neutral position on the land issue. Indeed, it was U.S. neutrality in 1979 that broke the stalemate at Lancaster. Without an independent U.S. position it will be difficult to act as an honest broker. Some of the parties are eager for independent facilitators to be involved – we believe that we played that role when the leaders of the white commercial farmers voiced their disappointment toward the British government, knowing that it would be widely reported and create pressure for compensation.

[] We call for the increase in AIDS medication and assistance in combating the epidemic.

[] We call for the increase in emergency food assistance.

[] We call for the increase in school supplies and equipment to help students in Zimbabwe.

[] We call for the increase in commercial contacts and visits by ordinary Americans to Zimbabwe, including a wider spectrum of media organizations so that Americans can observe the changes occurring and judge for themselves.


Mark, what part of capitalist, don't u understand?

05.07.2008 19:27


I don't know why you think that your view or the views of the so-called black Left have any worth at all.

The black people of Zimbabwe who are against Mugabe ARE VOTING FOR A PARTY THAT IS MORE CAPITALISTS THAN ZANU-PF.

What part of a vote for MDC is a vote for capitalism, DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND? Even the trade unions are more capitalist than Zanu-PF.

Working-class people in Zimbabwe, DON'T WANT YOU. How many votes did your left-wing party get in Zimbabwe. Let me guess. 0. You all voted capitalist MDC.

And if the elections were stolen, as you and your lot claim, why hasn't SADC said so. Is it because they are not as capitalist as your MDC darlings?

And how come there are so many NGOs in ZImbabwe that is hostile to Mugabe. Why on Earth are people financing them if people are starving?

Why does the brutal dictator Mugabe allow them to exist?

I'm sure you have a brain. Why don't you use it?


use yr brain, Simon

06.07.2008 13:06

Simple Simon said:

The black people of Zimbabwe who are against Mugabe ARE VOTING FOR A PARTY THAT IS MORE CAPITALIST THAN ZANU-PF.

> I do not advocate anyone vote for the MDC. But, I defend the people's right to vote however they wish, freely and fairly.

You also said:
What part of a vote for MDC is a vote for capitalism, DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND? Even the trade unions are more capitalist than Zanu-PF.

> I do understand Simon. I just don't believe violence and intimadation should have any part in the governance of a country

You also said:
And if the elections were stolen, as you and your lot claim, why hasn't SADC said so. Is it because they are not as capitalist as your MDC darlings?

> They haven't said anything because despite the excesses of ZanuPF, ZanuPF continue to earn respect in the region because of the independence struggle - which means they can get away with pretty as much as they want to. It was because of this ruthless military machine that they were requested to intervene in the Congo in the 1990s. SADC owe the Zimbabwe government a large debt. There is, however, another reason for the reluctance for other governments to criticise Mugabe and ZanuPF; it is the hypocrisy of other leaders in neighbouring countries such as Tanzania where they have been questions raised about voting proceedures.

You finally said:
And how come there are so many NGOs in ZImbabwe that is hostile to Mugabe. Why on Earth are people financing them if people are starving? Why does the brutal dictator Mugabe allow them to exist?
> Mugabe denies the food aid NGO's access because of fear that they are also spreading anti-government propaganda. Other NGOs are allowed because it does no favour to Mugabe and ZanuPF to completely clamp down of all the various NGOs in Zimbabwe; the expense and manpower that would be required to do this would stretch government resources. In any case, none of these NGOs are a real threat to the government who retain absolute power in tandem with the military; none of them would dare to speak out in a blatant confrontational mannaer even if they are happy to openly criticise the government. For ZanuPF, all they are interested in is renewing their so-called democratic mandate. Use yr brain Simon.


Revolution needs a convinced people, not a conquered people

06.07.2008 13:15

Thomas Sankara, leader of the Burkinabe revolution in Upper Volta, West Africa, from Aug 1983 to Oct 1987, said:
"The revolution needs a convinced people and not a conquered people, a submissive people that accepts its destiny."

Sankara belived that the peasants and workers of Burkino Faso and the rest of Africa are not primarily victims of imperialist pillage and brutal domination. On the contrary, he believed they were the only social force capable of initiating a revolutionary course to confront and reverse all the oppressive conditions inherited from previous class society and adopted by the national and foreign capitalists and landowners in order to preserve their domination. (Michel Prairie, 2001).


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