Addition to Monday 31st July 2000
The indications are that President Tim Henwood will not be seeing President Mugabe as expected.
We understand that all 804 properties listed on Gazette Notice 233 A of 2nd June, 2000 are to receive Section 8 Acquisition Orders, which are currently being signed by the Minister. All of those who appeared on the original list should, therefore, be prepared to receive such an Order.
Following the serving of a Section 8 Order the Minister is obliged to apply to the Administrative Court for confirmation of that Order and all land-owners should be given 14 days notice of any hearing to discuss the Order, which will give them an opportunity to defend the acquisition of their properties.
This action follows the issuing of a list of 130 farms so say conceded from the original list of 2nd June, 2000 but on scrutinising this list we found a number of errors. These were corrected and because it reduced the number of farms per province below the required 20 (160 in all) we called on land-owners who had farms to offer to come forward. An amended and correct list of 179 properties was delivered to the Ministry 10 days ago and I regret to say that absolutely no notice was taken of this list. In fact, on a couple of occasions, and in particular from the Minister on T.V. on Sunday night there was a denial that such a list of offered farms even existed.
This morning, we obtained a new list of 111 properties which were due to get Section 8 Orders and on scrutinising that list, we discovered there were 34 errors. It was in attempting to correct that list that we were informed that it did not matter as Government intended to take all 804 properties anyway.
We are currently discussing this issue with our legal advisers and will keep you posted on developments.
Dr J L Grant
DEPUTY DIRECTOR (REGIONS)
The Zimbabwe Economy - a Weekly Brief from the Movement for Democratic Change - 31st July 2000.
The whole question of land policy has been notched up a step or two this week. When Zanu PF recognised they were in trouble from an electoral point of view following the referendum; they embarked on a political program designed to divert attention away from the main issue which was the economy, to land. They also recognised that they were almost empty handed from a political point of view and only the land issue with all its emotive political and racial characteristics offered them any chance of retaining power. The result was the launch; some two weeks after the referendum of a campaign of violence directed at white, large-scale farmers. A mix of war veterans, unemployed people from the cities, elements from the CIO, the Army and the Police conducted this.
The theme was quite simple - the "land" was stolen from the indigenous Zimbabweans and would now be taken back - without compensation, which was a colonial responsibility and would be given to people without land. It worked, the farmers were intimidated, withdrew their support from the MDC and were persuaded to "co-operate' or else! Rural peasants and farm workers were confused by the promise of free land - they knew there must be a catch to that one, but they clearly understood the clenched fist of Zanu and its thugs, they had been down that road before! The result was that the opposition was virtually locked out of 60 odd constituencies and Zanu PF was able to hang on to power through this means. By all accounts President Mugabe claims full credit for this achievement.
Once the elections were over we all thought, well, now that that is behind us - let's hope we can get on with our lives. It was not to be and faced with a large opposition block in the House and increased hostility on the streets as well as a failing economy, Mugabe and his team actually stepped up the farm campaign. Even though the farmers co-operated at all times and even went so far as to "offer" 300 000 hectares of land to government to start a program of "accelerated land reform", the violence continued to escalate. We in the MDC had been saying to the farmers and their leadership for some time that a strategy of "turn over, lie on your back, and wag your tail" would only result in them getting the boot. This proved to be the case. We urged the farmers not to accept the illegal occupation of their farms by thugs and squatters. They argued that the safety of their members was their first priority. We responded by saying that so long as they allowed the farm invaders to remain on the farms, under whatever pretext, their members lives and that of their workers and families, were all under threat.
Eventually the farmers said enough is enough and decided to resume their legal challenges and to hold a farm shut down to try and force action. The courts were asked to condemn the leaders of the War Veterans, the Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General and the State President for not carrying out orders by the courts that the illegal farm occupations should cease. In reaction the government said that the farmers were responsible for the crisis and they insisted that the Police should not intervene and the leaders of the farm invasions were allowed to continue their activities - supported clandestinely by government and Zanu PF. Calls by one Vice President and one or two Ministers went unheeded. Mugabe maintained his silence.
Now a senior Minister (Chombo) has stated that the government would now "take" 3000 farms - representing two thirds of all remaining farmland in commercial hands. In Zimbabwean terms that virtually means the total destruction of the commercial farming industry in Zimbabwe.
Its worth reminding ourselves of the salient economic features of such a development: - large scale commercial farmers are responsible for 50 per cent of our exports, 65 per cent of the raw materials for industry and purchase the majority of the output of industry. They employ 350 000 people (one third of all private sector employment) and must indirectly support at least 300 000 jobs in the industrial, service and distribution industries.
In the year 2000, they will produce 60 per cent of all food grains, 98 per cent of all milk and 80 per cent of all meat production. They will deliver 95 per cent of all tobacco, coffee and tea and the vast majority of sugar to local and overseas markets. They will generate 98 per cent of all horticultural production that is exported and some 60 per cent of all local consumption of fruit and vegetables. They will supply 70 per cent of all oil seeds to vegetable oils and fats producers. They also borrow about 30 per cent of all bank lending and use their land holdings as collateral. They maintain thousands of kilometers of rural roads and communications infrastructure and invest billions annually in fixed farm improvements such as housing, water and irrigation. They control 250 000 hectares of irrigation land which is the key to stability of food production in a country where we have a 40 per cent mean variation in annual rainfall - ten times the average for the USA.
Then there is the legal aspect - what rights do these citizens of Zimbabwe hold under their constitution? Are property rights important in a modern economy? What are the consequences of any wholesale threat against property rights? The answer is that land rights are enshrined in the constitution and what the government is trying to do is not only morally indefensible but is also a violation of these land owners constitutional rights. They might be the first but every businessperson must know that this now represents a threat against all property rights.
So now you know - the land invasions are a very real threat to the whole economy and the food security of Zimbabwe. They are illegal and indefensible in any sphere. They are a short term, ruthless political ploy that the old guard of the Zanu PF is using in a desperate attempt to hold onto power at whatever cost. If they succeed it will be at the expense of every citizen in southern Africa. It is estimated that the Zimbabwe crisis is costing South Africa 2 per cent of its GDP - the cost to Zambia and Mozambique is much higher. The long-term damage will be enormous as we lose long tern investments that will find its way to other, more stable and responsible corners of the globe. Foreigners are not impressed by "potential" they want to see stability and the rule of law pursued consistently by the ruling authorities. They will not be easily persuaded that we offer a stable and secure place for their investment if we allow this situation to continue.
So it's not just about 4000 white, commercial farmers in a small land locked country. It's about fundamental principle, the rights of ordinary citizens and investors, the rule of law and the maintenance of personal security. So what if they occupy a third of all the most fertile land in Zimbabwe - not 70 per cent as the press constantly reminds us. Who occupies the rest? What have they done with it? The fact that 80 per cent of them have bought their farms since independence and for most it represents all that they have in worldly terms must stand for something! So what if they own 12 million out of 39 million hectares of land - if you take out the farms owned by black Zimbabweans and the international companies, these farmers own about 8 million hectares - 20 per cent of all land, half of which is in arid areas unfit for small scale farming of any kind. This means we are fighting over 4 million hectares of land - which is productively farmed and well conserved, which is the cornerstone of an economy which was once the hope of the region and is now unable to meet even the most basic of our peoples needs. 75 per cent of all Zimbabweans now live in abject poverty - 50 per cent more than at independence. Incomes are down a third in a decade and life expectancy has dropped 15 years in the same period - one of the largest such declines in modern history.
Then finally we must not ignore the fact that two million people live on commercial farms. That their standard of living is three times the standard of living in the communal or peasant farming districts. That any land resettlement exercise conducted by this government using the mean they are currently pursuing, will displace many more people than will be settled and that incomes will decline in these areas and that abject poverty will increase. Who will look after these displaced people, who will support the social and humanitarian needs of the hundreds of thousands who will lose their jobs in the economy? What will this mean in terms of fresh invasions of South Africa and Botswana by hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans displaced by the crisis? What does this mean for the AID's situation in southern Africa?
Land is not the issue - it's the economy, the economy, and the economy!
Secretary for Economic Affairs, MDC.