When the government embarked on an unstructured, haphazard and violent land reform programme, it was conveniently explained as fixing past wrongs and giving land to the people.
Source: Zim should swallow pride, compensate land grab victims – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 11, 2017
Comment: NewsDay Editor
Seventeen years down the line, Zimbabwe is feeling the effects of its rogue decisions and failure to look into the future, as countries like Switzerland are not willing to invest in the country because they feel their investments will not be protected.
Switzerland had three farmers in Zimbabwe and they lost their land despite bilateral laws protecting them and for that Zimbabwe is paying by not having significant trade with the European country.
A question to ask the government: Would the land reform programme have suffered a mortal blow if just those three farms were not expropriated?
The government may feel justified in grabbing land, but it also had a moral duty and obligation to protect land that was covered under bilateral trade treaties.
We can only wonder how much trade Zimbabwe has missed out on by failing to protect land that it had committed itself to protect.
There are several Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (Bippas) that Zimbabwe violated in the name of righting colonial wrongs, yet the objective was to embark on a populist agenda to maintain power at all costs.
Switzerland has revealed what many Western countries and lately the Chinese are thinking – that no one will invest money in Zimbabwe because there is a feeling that investment will not be protected.
Chinese officials are unhappy with the government for the manner in which Chinese diamond mines were stopped from mining in Chiadzwa, while Western countries have long expressed their feelings over the indigenisation policy and the land reform programme.
What Zimbabwe has managed to do is ostracise itself and no one will ever be willing to invest in this country until they feel their investments will be protected.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa may travel the length and breadth of the globe, but as previously, he will return to Zimbabwe empty-handed, because, as long as there is no commitment to uphold property rights, then he can as well as be howling in the wind.
Zimbabwe now has to swallow its pride and compensate farmers who lost their land which was protected under Bippas.
It is a bitter pill to swallow, but that is the only way the country’s ills can be healed.
It is time to dispense with populism and embrace policies that can build the country.