This is from the Ludwig Von Mises Institute website
Timothy D. Terrell
[Posted September 18, 2002]
It is one of the
most common tragedies of human history: a region populated
defenseless farmers is set upon by a gang of well-armed
bandits, who force
the farmers off their land and divide the land and spoils
In 1893, the tragedy had come to Zimbabwe, and the gang of
were British settlers led by mining magnate Cecil Rhodes.
sponsored in his aggression by the British government, operating
1889 royal charter to settle this fertile region of southern
suppressed the local Ndebele people, the colonists entrenched
the new status
quo by (hypocritically) enforcing property rights in their
Secure in their conquest, Rhodes and his group of miners and
made "Rhodesia" into a prosperous country. The influx of foreign
combined with European technical skills, translated into rising
living in Rhodesia, even for many of those who had been robbed
lands in 1893.
Rhodesia became independent from Britain in
1965 and, after 15 years of
turmoil and violence, conceded to international
demands that the rule of the
white minority give way to mass democracy. In
1980, with British and
American officials looking on approvingly, Robert
Mugabe was elected prime
minister. Unfortunately for the renamed Zimbabwe,
the Mugabe regime was not
to be characterized by a respect for private
property rights. In some ways,
in fact, Mugabe's rule would come to resemble
the banditry of Cecil Rhodes.
Mugabe began efforts at land reform,
through which white farmers were to be
required to transfer their land to
black Zimbabweans. This movement picked
up steam in 1997, though not without
opposition. In a climactic 2000
referendum, voters rejected the forcible
confiscation of white-owned farms.
Mugabe responded by cruelly
suppressing his opposition, using property
destruction, rape, and murder to
eliminate any possibility of a change in
government. His plans for land
reform proceeded, and 95 percent of the
white-owned farms were targeted for
redistribution. A deadline of August 10,
2002, was set for 2,900 farmers to
leave their lands. Hundreds of arrests
followed the passing of the deadline,
as some farmers refused to comply.
Mugabe has defended his actions as
necessary to eliminate the remaining
inequities of white colonial rule. If
Mugabe's land reforms were truly an
attempt to restore stolen property to the
heirs of the rightful owners, we
might applaud the principle of
redistribution, if not the methods, as
consistent with a staunch defense of
private property. Land redistribution
would be particularly welcome in
Eastern Europe, where property stolen by
the Communists has yet to be
returned to the families from which it was
Yet this is not
what Mugabe's land reforms have been about. Certainly Mugabe
has shown no
concern for the minority Ndebele whose ancestors Rhodes
defeated. In 1983,
Mugabe used his North Korean-trained troops to brutally
massacre thousands of
Ndebele civilians. Even if the rightful heirs could be
identified, which is
doubtful, Mugabe's government has been much more
concerned with garnering
political support, extracting revenues from the
wealthy, rewarding friends,
and buying off enemies.
In just a few years, the government of Zimbabwe
has managed to destroy its
agricultural markets, and to impoverish and starve
its population, in the
guise of defending historical property rights. A
principled advocacy of
property rights allows no excuse for the government's
Rothbard's comments in Power and Market are particularly
"One charge often made against the market is that 'all'
property can be
traced back to coercive depredations or State privilege, and
is no need to respect current property rights. Waiving the
question of the
accuracy of the historical contention, we may state that
generally make little difference. Suppose, for example,
that Jones steals
money from Smith or that he acquires the money through
and subsidy. And suppose that there is no redress: Smith
and his heirs die,
and the money continues in Jones' family. In that case,
the disappearance of
Smith and his heirs means the dissolution of claims from
titleholders at that point, on the 'homestead' principle of
from possession of unowned property. The money therefore
accrues to the
Jones family as their legitimate and absolute
Mugabe's government does not appear to be making a good-faith
effort to find
rightful heirs. According to the Washington Times, "at least
politicians, businessmen and members of the armed forces close to
have been allocated farms." In August, President Mugabe's wife,
showed up at a particularly choice 3,000-acre farm with some of
husband's troops. "I'm taking over this farm," she announced.
few days later the 78-year-old owner was arrested. The Times report
that Mrs. Mugabe "intends to settle her relatives on the farm."
farm workers who lived on the property were abruptly dismissed. In
to Mugabe's wife, two of his sisters, his brother-in-law, and his
nephew have also received farms.
Overall, around 70 percent of the
white-owned farms have been turned over,
not to poor landless blacks, but to
Mugabe's friends and relatives. The land
grab is certainly not about
reparations. And when Mugabe straight-facedly
added another far-fetched
rationale--sustainable development--at a recent
U.N. conference, many
Zimbabweans could only bitterly laugh.
The consequences have been
dramatic and deadly. At the beginning of Mugabe's
rule, Zimbabwe was a net
exporter of grain. During the land redistribution,
members of Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party have burned more than 10 million acres of
crops and prevented
many more acres from being farmed. Combined with a
drought, government policy
has produced terrible food shortages and
wide-ranging crisis. At least
300,000 black farm workers (possibly as many
as 1 million) have been thrown
out of their homes. Most of the 12.5 million
people in the country are
unemployed, desperately poor, and now face
starvation. Per capita income is
now only $380 a year, barely over half the
level of five years
Mugabe's government, meanwhile, seems more concerned with
revenue stream. While the government has raised some funds by
confiscated farms to wealthy Zimbabweans, it has also resorted to
By August, the inflation rate had reached an annual rate of 123
some predict that it will become a true hyperinflation by the
end of the
year. Zimbabwe appears well on its way to becoming another
demonstration of statism-induced disaster.
Sayagues, who was expelled from Zimbabwe for her
opposition to Mugabe's
regime, contended that the crisis ultimately "is not
redistribution." The land grab and the associated violence have
do with suppressing citizens who had publicly repudiated
Mugabe's policies in
the 2000 referendum and who had endangered his rule. As
"It is about keeping power in the hands of Zanu PF at the cost of
a country. It's about a regime that creates and unleashes an armed
of thugs to terrorise the countryside and cities to deliver the vote,
punish opponents, and to maintain its grip on the country. Were it not
the armed militia, for its organised, widespread torture and gang
accomplished with police complicity, Mugabe would be out, and he
In Zimbabwe, reparations are a transparent cover for one of
monstrous governmental crimes of the last 10 years. Mugabe's land
have amounted to nothing more than a power grab by his government,
starving a country that once was one of Africa's shining
Terrell is assistant professor of economics at Wofford College and
scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Send him MAIL. See his
For Agriculture (JAG) Zimbabwe
Zimbabweans and the world await news of proceedings at the Meeting of
Commonwealth Troika in Abuja, Nigeria on 23rd September 2002, Justice
for Agriculture (JAG) Zimbabwe release the
is a group of concerned Zimbabweans with a mission to secure justice,
peace and freedom for the agricultural sector and Zimbabweans. The
attack on agriculture has already led to the displacement of expertise, causing
poverty and starvation.
advocacy activities incorporate the interests of commercial farm owners, farm
workers, as well as the agricultural ancillary industries and their
mission is to safeguard and support people affected, and to document and expose
the injustices and human rights abuses being perpetrated against them.
remains determined to find a lasting and just solution to the crisis currently
facing the agricultural sector, in accordance with the freely expressed wishes
of the people.
is not adverse to reforms but the manner in which the Land Reform is being
implemented is not within the law and constitution of Zimbabwe.
this past week Parliament was called into session to debate a new bill, which
awaits the Presidents endorsement. The need to make this amendment is further
proof that Land Reform has been implemented without due regard to the laws.
WAY FORWARD FOR ZIMBABWE
return to a legally recognised Land Reform Programme - “People first”. The
10-year resettlement programme “People First”, adopted in June 2001 said
government had already listed 6 million hectares for acquisition, one million
more than it thought it would need for resettlement in that period, and it would
start de-listing. Another 4 million hectares have instead been added. The
programme has been doubled in area and shortened from 5 years down to just one,
without resources to pay for any part of it. Forgotten is that precaution to
spread land acquisitions over 5 years to 2005 and to still leave a 6 million
hectare “strategic core” which government recognised was necessary for economic
stability and food production.
return to the previously adopted criteria and the delisting of farms acquired
that cannot be turned into productive units due to budgetary restrictions in
terns of inputs and compensation. Despite previously set criteria, 1 024 single
owned farms have been listed for acquisition with at least 50% of these farmers
being off their farms and unable to produce. A large number of these were
stopped from farming after the signing of the 6th September Accord.
of an impartial board in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act and
Constitution, and the Agricultural Land Settlement Act governing applications
for allocation of land and conduct an independent audit. The laws regarding
allocation have not been complied with. An impartial board is required to
consider each application for a lease, with specific criteria to be taken into
account, and make recommendations. This has not been done.
have repeatedly been made for a transparent land reform programme, but little
detailed information is available about the ultimate beneficiaries. There are
serious problems over the allocations, arising in part from the Minister’s
announcement in April that maximum farm sizes would not apply to blacks, only
whites. The few published lists and information from farms show that some
people, particularly those associated with police and defense forces,
government, and the ruling party are receiving pieces of land far larger than
those maximum farm sizes, largely at the expense of other Zimbabweans including
skilled farm workers.
50 000 people were promised ‘commercial’ plots of land before the election,
their names published as approved applicants. Only about 12 000 seem to have
actually been allocated land. The overall total names officially published of
those who have now been allocated and accepted land is only about 6 456 names,
on 698 farms. The number of farms thus shown is insignificant.
recent survey conducted by the Zimbabwe Community Development Trust (ZCDT)
indicated that already 150 000 agriculturally skilled employees are jobless and
only 34 000 of these have somewhere to go with some obtaining plots. This
translates to 750 000 Zimbabweans displaced to date.
polarisation of Zimbabweans. This current environment is not conducive to true
democracy and this has also allowed for the denuding of the rule of law.
Rights are enshrined in the principles of FREEDOM. Commercial Farmers owned 28,2
of Commercial land, of this 97% has been listed for compulsory acquisition.
Despite this, Government is silent on the aspect of Title. The new beneficiaries of the A2 Resettlement
Model (Commercial) are receiving mixed signals and already the Banking sector
have said they will not fund new farmers who do not possess collateral.
Commercial Farming can only succeed on the basis of ‘Security of Tenure and
Provision of Collateral”.
trying to use contested land risk losing all they plant if the Administrative
Court decides against the government. The Court must order the return of the
land, and there is not provision for the interim settlers to receive
compensation. Because of this, banks
will not lend funds invested with them to the new settlers on those farms. There
is insufficient money or resources to help the new settlers together with those
already needing help elsewhere in the country after the failure of last years
dry land crop, mainly because of delays in paying for the previous years maize
crop and delayed planting.
of Zimbabwe to make a public statement calling for Settlers/War veterans/ other
persons to cease interfering in the vital production process on legally correct
farms and where there are violations, to press for convictions of offenders.
farmers who thought they were being left as part of that 6 million hectare core
and planted crops have since found their farms listed, then been given an order
from the Minister to stop farming and leave their homes before completing
harvest and rendering their staff jobless.
the farm owners to reap, harvest and market all Wheat grown.
allowing an environment conducive to the planting of Tobacco Seed beds. The
arrests of Tobacco farmers in the last few weeks compromised 4.3
million kgs of flue cured tobacco valued at Z$1.4 billion and severely eroded
confidence at a crucial time.
for the Agricultural sector to dialogue amongst themselves WITHOUT political
interference to source ways to plant food crops necessary to ameliorate
widespread starvation for Zimbabweans.
of Zimbabwe to clarify Compensation issues. Moreover, under the Constitution,
when the government does not act in accordance with its programme, it is
required to promptly pay full “fair compensation”, including for the land
itself. It clearly has no funds allocated or available for this, again contrary
to the law.
16(1) of the Constitution requires any law for compulsory acquisition a) to
require the authority to give reasonable notice of an intention to acquire, and
b) to require the authority to pay compensation before or within a reasonable
time after acquiring it. Only 106 owners have received payment (in part) since
January 2000, and the Minister has announced he is not paying anything more to
owners now. The draft budget for next year contains no allocation for land
of Law Commitment. Despite the promises made on the 6th September
2001, lawlessness continues unabated on the farms.
land reform programme conducted over the last 3 years has been both brutal and
chaotic. Farmers and their loyal staff have had their homes burnt down; had
their equipment and personal assets looted and stolen; many have been subjected
to torture and been unlawfully imprisoned. Despite this level of criminal
behavior often perpetrated by state sponsored elements, no farmer or their
workers have retaliated with firearms, even under the most extreme
provocation. Scores of persons in our
sector have been murdered and yet not one conviction has been secured. Instead
the State, hell-bent on their ‘propaganda’ campaign ‘fast-tracked’ the case of
Philip Bezuidenhout and after a three-week campaign of intimidation on the
judiciary, we are not surprised that he was sentenced to 15 years in prison,
saved from a Death sentence by a ‘whisker’ after Judge Hlatshwayo allowed
is the view of JAG members that unless Zimbabweans take back into their own
hands the production of food from the Politicians who merely use it as a tool,
there will be a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions come
November/December. Our people are already hard hit with the HIV/Aids pandemic
and to burden their immune systems with low nutrition at this time is tantamount
to committing murder most foul.
the executive of JAG request on behalf of the agricultural sector, that the
Commonwealth Troika members, Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo, South African President Thabo Mbeki and Australian
Prime Minster John Howard intervene to assist Zimbabweans in curbing
political interference that lends a lie to the true meaning of Sovereignty.
(Sovereignty is defined as – The sovereign good the greatest good, esp. for a
State, its people, etc.)
you meet and discuss the Zimbabweans situation with the Zimbabwean delegation,
please help us to make them accountable to the disaster they have perpetrated
against their own people.
David Conolly - Chairman
For Agriculture (JAG) Zimbabwe