|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
You are invited to attend the launch in Durban of Geoff Hill's new book: "What Happens After Mugabe - Can Zimbabwe Rise from the Ashes?" It is being held at Adams Book Shop in Musgrave Centre on Wednesday 25 May at 17h30. Please pass on the invitation to anyone else who is from Zimbabwe or who is concerned about the ongoing crisis. Please respond to Adams Books, details below. Many thanks, Glyn
Geoff Hill, Africa correspondent for the Washington Times, is already well known for his research on Zimbabwe and its decline, which he presented in The Battle for Zimbabwe.
Now is the time, he believes, to look ahead to the prospects for the country after Mugabe. The shocking statistics of Zimbabwe’s decline highlight the problems but also the potential, provided aid can be effectively deployed, educational standards restored, law and order re-established and returning exiles find work.
Geoff’s new book - What Happens after Mugabe - is meticulously researched, with material drawn from hundreds of interviews inside Zimbabwe and among exiles around the world. It takes a realistic look at the possibilities, and underlines the importance of early planning.
The danger, as he writes in the preface, is that, since 1990, Africa has undergone a revolution as long-time leaders, under pressure to reform, let go of their one-party states and military dictatorships and held multiparty elections. But, when change came, it was often so fast that, before much could be done, a new elite had entrenched themselves as solidly in power as those they had replaced.
This is a timely and important study. We hope you and a colleague will wish to join us for the launch, which is to be held at Adams Musgrave bookshop, Musgrave Centre at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday 25th May.
To assist us in our planning, we do ask that you respond to us direct:
Tel: Beverly on Durban (031) 304 8571.
Leaving behind Zimbabwe's land
Now five years into the government's land redistribution programme, he says is taking things year by year.
"I feel sometimes that maybe I should stop at the end of the next season. Let's wait and see."
Reflecting his mood of caution, Lewis has cut back by a quarter the production of his main money earner, tobacco.
He also finds he's distracted from running his own business by requests for help from his new farming neighbours.
Hundreds of people have been resettled on the farms surrounding Lewis, most of them illegally.
They often have little business knowledge of farming and few assets.
Lewis lends tractors, ploughs fields and even provides basic lessons in agronomy.
But in spite of all the assistance he provides, Lewis thinks some of his neighbours want to bring him down.
"It's just pure jealousy," he sighs.
"They see what I have on the farm and wonder why I have it and they don't. But I've been in many difficult situations and I've learned to put on a thick skin."
Instead of being harassed, Lewis could reasonably expect to be a role model for the Zimbabwean authorities.
That is because Lewis is a highly successful black commercial farmer.
When I first interviewed him more than five years ago, he explained how he hoped to set an example for other would-be farmers.
"I need to live an exemplary farming life," he told me.
Now he's considering leaving farming altogether. He's not only worried for his business, but for his personal safety.
In March, during the parliamentary election campaign, he was forced to attend rallies in support of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party.
As someone who bought his farm long before the government began seizing white-owned land without paying compensation, Lewis thinks he is viewed with suspicion.
Five years ago I interviewed him at home on the veranda of his large farmhouse.
This time he preferred to meet in the anonymity of a parked car in the suburbs of Harare. Lewis is not his real name.
Future in Africa
One of his former neighbours, John, who also didn't want to be identified, moved into Harare three years ago after being forced off his farm.
"My grandfather built our home in 1921. Then, one weekend, the police gave us 48 hours to get off.
"They had no paperwork. It was mind-numbing. But a threat's a threat.
"On the back of six or seven farmers being shot in the previous months, we decided to leave."
In spite of the upheaval, John still believes there's a future for him and other white ex-farmers in Zimbabwe.
"My feeling is that if you keep your nose clean and decide that as a white man in Africa you're here to make money and provide development, then you'll be able to stay.
"But if you get involved in politics - then no - your days are numbered."
Another former neighbour, Rob, has joined the exodus of millions of Zimbabweans who've left the country over the past five years.
He and his wife and four children have moved to the thriving coastal town of Mackay in Queensland, Australia.
They have a large house close to the beach and are particularly pleased that in contrast to the electrified fences and security alarms of their previous home Zimbabwe; in Australia they can leave all their doors unlocked.
"When you see what we've got here and the friends we've made, there's no way I'd go back to that nonsense in Zimbabwe," says Rob.
His wife, Anna, agrees.
"It was just the uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen next. Here the biggest worry is whether the washing will be dry."
Back in Zimbabwe, on the day I spoke to Lewis he was arranging to meet his daughter, who is now studying in Australia.
Lewis suspects that even if he is able to carry on farming in Zimbabwe, there's no future in the country for his daughter.
He recently employed an armed guard to protect his cattle after six of his herd were stolen in a single night.
"Land reform was necessary, but not in the way it has been done," he says.
"I wasn't an economic decision, it was a political one."
Grant Ferrett's programme Leaving the Land, will be broadcast on Tuesday 24 May at 20.00 BST, repeated Sunday 29 May at 17.00 BST, on BBC Radio 4.