Tag Archives: land

Zimbabwe’s Second Republik: dealing with the past, compensating white farmers and knee jerk reactions from civil society

23 Apr

The 39th independence celebrations for Zimbabwe have come and gone. The only thing that remains to show for the 39 years of independence is old Robert’s absence from the uhuru celebrations. The economy is teetering on its knees, bread – the same bread that also aided the overthrow of Sudan’s Al Bashir has risen to 3.50 in Zimbabwe from 99 cents, fuel queues remain the order of the day and strife never seems too far away from the ordinary Zimbabwean. Three things stand out in all this confusion of this state called Zimbabwe. One, Mnangagwa’s government has pronounced that they want to compensate white farmers for developments they left on the farms that were taken from them a decade ago. Two, there seems to be confusion around government’s position with regards how the past including the land reform process should be handled and finally the role of civil society in all this is all mired in serious and perilous confusion. A discussion will thus follow.

Compensating white farmers for what really is the question?

One of the most vexing issues of our times as a nation and state is the land question. What really to do with the Zimbabwean white man/woman with regards compensation for the land that “they grabbed from  Zimbabweans and was also grabbed from them by the black Zimbabwean” remains a thorn in the back of the state and nation. One would think that by now this matter would have been resolved if it were not for the fact that ZANU PF grabbed most of the land and dished it out to its cronies. Now predictably huge tracts of land lie fallow with speculators hoping they will get title deeds and use the security to go borrow money from banks to fund their lavish lifestyles. It is true!

The politics and smearing of the black Zimbabwean aside – the whole land compensation matter reeks of perverted opportunism and a clear lack of vision from ZANU PF. For starters, it defies all logic that a whole people can go to war to fight for their land and other resources only to wake up the following morning apologizing. Zimbabwe is basically telling the whole world that the country is ready to return whatever was stolen from them after they had worked so hard to recover it. Ideological bankruptcy if you ask me! If the Government of Zimbabwe is not clear on what should happen with the compensation then the issue must be put to the ballot in a referendum. Or at the very least, it must be taken to Parliament. The President cannot just run around making pronouncements that have serious significance at a political, social and economic level and get away with it.  Unless, there is some other logical reason, this whole compensation former white farmers is all some gibberish which should come to an end  already.

Who will pay for the compensation?

The more vexing question though is that the government of Zimbabwe says there will be compensation for the developments in infrastructure etc. left by the white men/woman on the farms. While the question of why such compensation is even difficult to understand, the question of who is supposed to pay for such is even more cantankerous to deal with. When the government mentions that the state will pay, what it basically means is that the ordinary Zimbabwean who is taxed left right and center through PAYE, 2% and some other crazy tax schemes operating in Zimbabwe now, will also have to see their hard-earned money used to pay for such compensation schemes when they don’t have medicines in hospitals, and can’t afford to have one meal a day on their tables.

The government of Zimbabwe is broke and this whole talk about compensating this or that person is just misplaced for a very simple reason. If the talk should even arise then it must be the farmer or the black Zimbabwean who took over a house, barns, farming equipment or whatever they found on the farm and not the whole of Zimbabwe. Why should the whole of Zimbabwe suffer collective guilt for some loot that is now enjoyed by a privileged few?

What should happen as a matter of common sense is that those Zimbabwean black farmers who took over those assets should now pay for them. If the white farmer runs into any problems then s/he should approach the nearest judicial court and make a civil claim or whatever to get compensation from these people. I would reckon most of the equipment has been sold, is now damaged or probably broken down now and thus it will all be very tricky to make such claims. All the same, I don’t think the whole of Zimbabwe deserves to be put under such a blanket process of compensating the white farmers. It just doesn’t add up? What is this now – collective guilt for a whole country courtesy of the so called Second Republic?

Dealing with the past – Mnangagwa and NPRC working together or at cross paths?

One of the biggest issues in Zimbabwe revolves around how the country should deal with its past history of human rights violations also commonly known as transitional justice. There is a common understanding that for the country to move forward there must be unity of purpose built around knowing the truth about what happened in the past, who committed what atrocities e.g. the Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, 2008 election violence, what were the motivations, how much money was plundered etc. To achieve this, the government with a push from civil society and literally the whole of Zimbabwe established what is known as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, whose main task is also dealing with the past.

What is becoming confusing and contributing to the false start that is this second republic of Mnangagwa is the seeming confusion between the pronouncements of the President and what the NPRC is seeking to do. In the same week, the news about the compensation of white farmers came out, the NPRC was also deploying into some parts of Zimbabwe to ask the people on what, how and why should the past be addressed. So, if there is a national body under Chapter 12 of the country’s Constitution mandated to carry out such work, why would a whole President be seen to be jumping the gun or putting the cart before horse making such pronouncements?

Some will argue that policy making requires that the Executive makes decisions and be decisive. However, i argue that the kind of policy making in this second republic is very haphazard, and erratic more informed by knee jerk reactions rather than any objective interventions.

The government and the President of course need to lead the way but they must also ensure that there is one coordinated message coming from them that shows consistency and a sense that they want matters to be dealt with decisively. That cannot be done with this kind of erratic behavior. At the least the President can wait for a report from the NPRC and be informed accordingly or he can just come out all furnaces running and declare that his government will implement a policy of reconciliation based on compensation etc. without wasting any more taxpayers money on organs such as this NPRC. If they want to ignore the body they can as well disband in the same manner they did with the SADC Tribunal during Chinamasa’s time.

It is important to note that i did not reach this position on the basis of the white farmers compensation but also on pronouncements made by the President on Gukurahundi. What is also even more interesting is that the President is choosing to remain very quiet when questions are asked about compensating victims of politically motivated and state sponsored human rights violations from the past.

What is the urgency in resolving the white farmers compensation question?

It remains baffling why the “revolutionary” party would all of a sudden be tripping itself scurrying around trying to compensate the former white farmers. Tell tale signs of cheap politicking – serving white people tea at public functions, promising to pay back compensation when in international for a are some of the tactics that have been used to try to sway the international community and financiers to believe that “Zimbabwe is open for business”. But is this really true? What is known by all and sundry though is that, the government needs more loans in forex and the money is just not coming. Well, we will live to see how this will pen out, but it will not end well.

Who will laugh last – ZANU PF or the compensated white farmer?

Some skeptics have noted that the Zimbabwe government is broke. So, if they are broke, how can they pay? Some people have intimated that what will likely happen is that the Government will print money and even create that fictitious money called RTRGS and pay it to the white farmers. Whatever the white farmers will do with that money will be none of the Government’s business. However, we all know and it is true that those who will receive that money will churn it out to the black market, buy foreign currency, leading to a hike in exchange rates and retail prices. We know what happened when the war vets were given huge sums of money as compensation in 1998.

The role of civil society in all this madness – do former ZANU PF officials really need support from civil society?

The third issue that seems to be equally vexatious is the role of civil society in responding to the second republic and its antics. An interesting development over the past year has been the dragging to court of former ZANU PF officials by the second republik to court on charges of abuse of office, embezzlement, corruption etc.

Of more interest though is the almost instantaneous reaction and jump to action by leading civil society groups in Zimbabwe to defend/represent these same people in court and outside the court. While the almost naïve argument would be that human rights defenders are there to defend without discrimination anyone caught under the jaws of any repressive regime, this is certainly not the case in Zimbabwe.  Most of the people who were working under Robert Mugabe’s regime contributed immensely towards the traumatization and abuse of Zimbabweans. The same Zimbabweans who toil day and night seeking justice for past human rights violations but never seem to have their day in court. Compare that to now where all these fat, pot bellied men and women are now receiving top notch legal advice to evade justice from the  Zimbabwean justice system.

That the justice  system in Zimbabwe is crooked is well known. However, on a question of principle and good morals, it would have been much safer for most of these civil society groups who are scurrying around protecting and defending the likes of Kasukuwere and others like him to calm down, take a back seat and really ponder about what they are doing.

The whole argument of nondiscrimination, human rights defending is almost sensible, but it remains really  non–non sensible. Those people can afford, have other choices and must be left to their own whims. I hear all the time as well that it is prudent to court these same people and get them onto the camp of the democrats. My take is that, that whole line of thinking is warped and unnecessary.

If ever, any of the international donors from the West were to ask questions as it is most likely that this is where the support comes from, then the answer must just be very simple – these people contributed to the torment of masses of Zimbabweans, they need to find other people to represent them. If it were in the North, these same people would be in correctional centers by now.

What way Zimbabwe?

The beauty of democracy is that issues must and can always be discussed and people agree or disagree. Questions that remain though are that the Nation and State of Zimbabwe must get a grip on itself and choose a clear path ideologically on how it needs to address it past especially with regards the land question and compensation of former white farmers. The loud dissonance between the motives for waging a guerrilla warfare and today’s knee jerk pronouncements of compensating white farmers do not speak to each other. The confusion is also compounded by Constitutional bodies that seem not to understand their mandates or what they are in office for. By now, one would hope that the NPRC would have challenged the President and asked him to stop making pronouncements such as those around compensating former white farmers until such a time as the body would also have done its work. Equally, civil society seems to be wound up in its own pants trying to figure out how to remain relevant in this crocodile head of a government, state and nation. Unfortunately, some of them have found themselves responding unwisely by assisting former oppressors to seek justice in a country that remains mired in seeking justice for past human rights violations. This part of civil society needs to stop being naïve. The second republik remains in a big dilemma because of a serious failure to place Zimbabwe’s ideological path on the table and to direct the country to the future.

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Zimbabwe! Calling others gay, barking dogs & mafikizolos will not solve Command Ugly Cultures

2 Jul

So, it goes in ZANU PF that if your erstwhile and yesteryear Dinyane colleagues irritate you, you label them gay, you call them mafikozolos, you call them deserters, barking dogs and all sorts of nasty names. This all in the hope that the name calling should end their tirades on twitter and wherever they exercise their misdemeanors against the revolutionary party. This sort of diversionary tactic would have worked back then, years ago, but it seems no one ever bothered to tell Cde Constantino Guveya Chiwenga, Minister Chinamasa, Vice President Mnangagwa, Nathaniel and Ambassador Mutsvangwa that they should look for new tactics as this one is now less diversionary, tired and boring. It is understandable that these comrades would have been immensely irritated by the twitter rants by Jonathan Moyo and jabs by Savior Kasukuwere about the Command Agriculture saga. Honestly, after hatching such a good looting plan who would expect that even the beneficiaries of such a thieving scheme would oppose it. For me, it is not even the rantings by Proff. Jonso and Tyson that are the problem here. It is rather the lousy and near violent responses by these top ZANU PF officials which point to a refusal to be censured, and a lazy attitude that the country should be governed by Command policies. The rantings by Chinamasa, Mutsvangwa, Chiwenga and Mnangagwa as well as the (re) tired Cde Nathaniel reveal the smelly underbelly of the Command Agriculture scheme more than it dissuades critics and observers from asking objective questions.

That someone had to find a way to fund, subsidize or bankroll the cash strapped farmers who got land from the land grab that happened over a decade ago is beyond doubt. Banks have refused and continue to ask questions about the bankability of the 99 year leases. Government is forcing the banks to charge 4% interest rates. This was bound to be a recipe for disaster, still someone had to cough up the cash to supply inputs for the farmers to start farming without too many stringent conditions. So, in comes Dr Grace with the Command Agriculture Scheme. It is said farmers who could prove that they could farm, were operating close to water sources and had irrigation equipment etc. were allowed access to the inputs which would be collected from GMB. Farmers collected their inputs and went to farm. There is no question about this, somehow funds were needed for agricultural revival in Zimbabwe. This money had to be provided and yes, the Government intervened and provided the much-needed support.

Questions came in as soon as the Command Agriculture project started. Rightful questions which needed and still need forthright answers. For me, this is where the Lacoste team misses the point and fails to address the information needs of Zimbabweans including Proff. Jonso and Tyson. Of course, it known to all and sundry that Jonso and Tyson and ohh yes muzukuru wa sekuru Mu Rasta are not asking questions because they are worried about Zimbabwe. The problem that finds the Lacoste team in sixes and nines and make their responses childish is that they are failing to deploy intelligent responses and the right people to respond to the tirades from Jonso and his G 40.

First, who names a policy as big as this agricultural finance scheme “Command Agriculture”. It is as if we are in some Soviet Stalinist era or Nyerere’s socialist era. Yes, the process is in every way Command like, but it could have been given a name – a Zimbabwean title for that matter, to give it dignity, a home and belonging. But alas some douche bag cleverly thought it could be called “Command”. By calling this process “Command” it opened it up to ridicule and all these unnecessary proceedings from the likes of Proff. Jonso and his G40 and now they should manage to eclipse this whole process as “Command Ugly Culture”.

Secondly, questions have been asked about the transparency with which this process has been implemented. For God’s sake, if everything is above aboard and there is nothing to hide, why would it be difficult for Chinamasa, Chiwenga and the King Crocodile himself to simply issue a spreadsheet showing who got what inputs, when and what value they were. Is it that difficult? Jonathan Moyo can continue playing his trumpet so loud and for so long because he knows most probably that the people managing this process do not even know what inputs he received.

I raise the point of inventory above because it would be able to answer a follow up question on what outputs were achieved by each farmer. It is a simple evaluation process. If x amount of inputs were given to Farmer Jonso with all things being equal (rains, fuel, labor etc.), Farmer Jonso would have produced so much tonnage isn’t it. Exact figures might be difficult to come up with for the final output but at least estimates can be drawn up. Team Lacoste continues to play around with the mantra that Command Agriculture produced a bumper harvest and Zimbabwe will for the first time in a long period not require to import grains. Well, fair and fine, but this response fails to answer critical questions on what farmer produced what products and in what quantities. This kind of knee jerk response does not provide for a future looking government and policy making process. What farmers did well, which regions and all those sorts of questions are critical questions that need ready answers from the Minister of Agriculture and GMB. The idea that Zimbabweans can be Commanded to believe that the Command Agriculture project was a success without seeing clearly tabulated results is so Commandist and so yesterday. Word of advice for Ngwena – please get a bit more sophisticated and have the boys in your office do more work. Maybe the politicians can be allowed the ranting but certainly the task force Commanded by you to manage this process can and could have done better in terms of providing clearer information.

Third, the name Sakunda Holdings continues to be tossed around as the funders of this project. The newspapers run around with information that these “petrol” people are somehow related to the first family and mukwasha Simba. Whichever way it is, I see arrogance on the part of the Lacoste team in the way they respond. If nothing is amiss with these funds and this company then clearly someone clever enough would have responded intelligently and given accounts of what funds were agreed to be lended to the Government of Zimbabwe, at what interest rates, for what period, disbursed in what procedures etc. This information is not coming through and what Zimbabweans get daily are allegations of corrupt dealings, inflated interest rates, fake disbursements etc. Even if Team Lacoste wanted to take over the government and run the state after the demise of the Great One, I believe it would be cleverer to have a more responsive press officer, a more able manager of information, not these hocus pocus responses from Chinamasa. It’s just not cutting it!

The arrogance with which the Team Lacoste has responded and continues to soldier on Commanding more funds for Command Livestock and Command Fisheries just shows poor politicking on the Team Lacoste. I reckon the proceeds from Command Agriculture were so sweet that people want to continue mauling the fiscus before the old man kicks the bucket. Ngwena and Chinamasa could as well try to up their game before implanting Command Livestock and Fisheries. This idea of Commandeering everything even information is not working.

The use of expletives and foul language to respond to criticism to Jonso and Tyson is counterproductive for Team Lacoste. What such responses do is reveal an arrogant stance that Zimbabwe belongs to ZANU PF and the only thing that this side of ZANU PF needs to be worried about is the G40 faction and nothing and no one else. Zimbabwe is much bigger than Team G 40 and Jonso. Team Lacoste get a life and stop responding with jibes that Jonso and Tyson are gay. Unless of course Command Sexuality was introduced and we were not told. It is very clear that the idea is to try whip up emotions of Zimbabweans on sexual orientation debates and because President Mugabe is adamant that “gays are worse than pigs”. Zimbabweans know this and it is a bit futile for Team Lacoste to want to appeal to President Mugabe in this manner. If these attacks are going to be made, at least let them come from elsewhere. For once, Team Lacoste has a chance to speak policy and respond in a clean and sober manner on questions regarding the funding of Command Agriculture. That Jonso deserted the war is also well known. But frankly, who really knows how the fought was fought when there are so many disputed narratives. Joice never fell any helicopter, so and so was just a mujibha, so and so was just a cook etc. That so and so joined ZANU PF later does not necessarily mean that they cannot ask questions when the revolutionary party implements questionable policies. Commanding allegiance through Command policies such as Command Agriculture, Command Livestock and Command Fisheries will only work for if the money lasts. After the money is finished, it will be back to square one. Policy questions asked today will still be there waiting to be answered

All Zimbabweans want to know is how exactly those who have been given inputs under the Command Agriculture will repay their loans. This process that farmers will pay back with grain at 75% or whatever quantity is well and clear. Mnangagwa has noted that farmers are already depositing grains at various GMB depots. It would be good for whoever is monitoring and evaluating Zim Asset and this Command Agriculture process to keep Zimbabweans updated on an online portal, throught the Herald and whatever means about the state of affairs with this Command Agriculture process. The idea of having policies discussed via twitter by Jonso and Cde Pats ranting in private newspapers is not working!

In any case, if ZimAsset is going to proceed by way of COMMAND economics and funding, then when will see COMMAND HOUSING, command ROADS and COMMAND STOP CORRUPTION at ZIMRA and from the boys in blue whose boss wears the wrong shoe sizes to work!

Last word for Sakunda Holdings and all these other people enjoying lending money to this government. I note as well the Afreximbank loan to fund the bond notes. I noted earlier, that someone somewhere has and had to fund the different projects under Zimasset. These projects have very high returns at the moment, they are quite interesting but I sincerely hope that they will not one day become odious debts. Just saying! Remember, the Guptas down South – hint hint! Just one day, gava richadimbura musungo Sakunda!

UGLY as this whole COMMAND CULTURE looks, Team Lacoste can do better and respond in better ways in a manner that can serve all Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe will not be fed by the jabs between Lacoste and G 40.

The art of bathing in dirty water: Joice Mujuru and land compensation in Zimbabwe

12 Oct

The theatrics to take over after the geriatric President Mugabe kicks the bucket or calls it quits (honestly I don’t see him leaving office on his own volition anytime soon) seem to be reaching a crescendo in opposition quarters. What with all the drama last week from former Zimbabwe Vice President Dr. Joice Mujuru when she announced that she met with the white man whose farm they grabbed or got “reallocated to” by ZANU PF when her late husband was still alive. At the least I find the whole thing unfunnily theatrical and at most cheap propaganda trying to sway the international community (read white people) to believe she is a repentant former ZANU PF zealot. I am convinced that her theatrics were not even meant for the general Zimbabwean audience. This is just trying to take a shower in dirty water, IT CAN’T!

I am not getting it. Joice Mujuru says she wants to compensate this man, this former white farmer whose land she alleges they “grabbed”. My understanding is that ZANU PF policies and laws that were enacted at the time the land was taken from most white farmers and redistributed to black people converted all that land into state property. So if the land belongs to the state, how then will she be able to compensate this white farmer when the land does not belong to him and purportedly never belong to him?

Maybe, Joice Mujuru wants people to believe that she wants to work out an arrangement that she will compensate him for “developments” made on the farm. Maybe she wants to compensate the former “landowner” for his machinery and or crops they “looted” at the time. That would in a sense be understandable but still it would be interesting to see how they will reach an agreement on the compensation rates. Of course, whoever lost his property would have an inventory but I’m really interested in seeing how the values for these properties/machinery etc. will be calculated.

This same Joice Mujuru who pleaded bankruptcy in recent court processes after her alleged step – children stepped in to claim their inheritance from their dead father is the same person who is claiming she can compensate people? Okay?

Cheap, very cheap, miscalculated propaganda I say!

One might want to see racism in these questions. However, I am of the opinion that the land question that Joice Mujuru wants to fiddle with cannot be used as a backbone for her attempts to get back into politics. There is no question that the majority of former white farm owners inherited from their ancestors this land that was stolen from black communities that were in Zimbabwe at that time. Joice Mujuru now wants to ride on a charade that seeks to trivialize this matter. She of all the people cannot forget that the liberation struggle was fought for among others to retain this same land from the erstwhile colonizers.

That ZANU PF is rogue and could have made mistakes in handling the land question does not mean that Joice Mujuru can try to downplay the need for land to be repossessed and be utilized by black Zimbabweans. The argument that white people were “very good’ and were good farmers is just unacceptable hogwash that should be told as folktales in faraway lands. It is a fact that most white families benefited from cheap bank loans, protected markets and so on such that they became “profitable farmers’. The new farmers in Zimbabwe who have been given that same land need to be given the same chance. There is nothing special about being white and neither is anything wrong with being black.

If there is one issue that will break Joice Mujuru’s attempts at the Presidency in Zimbabwe’s future it will be the land question and how she proposes to deal with the land redistribution process from the controversial “Third Chimurenga”. There are questions of principle on the much delayed and botched land redistribution process as well as questions about black empowerment and the need to possibly compensate the white folks who lost “their farms”. For her to conflate and confuse these issues with her attempts to renter politics is just mere political suicide and puerile propaganda which will not fly or win her the hearts of Zimbabweans! In any case, it is not these folks who will vote in 2018, if her recent theatrics are about looking for votes.

Compensation! Compensation for what purpose, to who and how much is the question she has to answer!

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