Land Reform – Overlooked History

via email 8 November 2013 – by Alan McCormick

The issue goes back to ZANU(PF) Congress (1997?).  There was a strong movement to dispose of Mugabe then but he outmanoeuvred the delegates and avoided a vote.  He later called the provincial chairmen in one at a time and got their blessing to endorse his position as First Secretary, but he was aware of his vulnerability.  He then, in 1999/2000, went for a new constitution to entrench his position as head of state for a further 10 years.  He soon realised that people were not accepting his constitution so he played his trump card – Clause 16 making Britain responsible for paying for the land.

However this did not attract any attention from the electorate who still concentrated on the issues of presidential term and citizenship for those of foreign decent (with intermarriage a large proportion of the black population).  Mugabe had seriously underestimated the intelligence of the electorate.  The electorate were well versed in all the issues covered by the whole draft constitution and by and large voted in full knowledge of the terms proposed by it.  It was rejected by the electorate without following any persuasion from NCA, MDC or farmers (witness the overwhelming No vote in Guruve North encompassing the Zambezi Valley – a rural area too distant to be influenced).  I was part of the ZANU(PF) team doing the rounds of Mashonaland Central promoting the constitution and saw no evidence that the opinions of any political party or anyone else had sway over the rural communities.  The electorate had read and comprehended the implications of the provisions.  I was very impressed by the general understanding and on one occasion totally floored when it was pointed out that a provision of the draft constitution would deny citizenship to anyone born of foreign lineage. They raised the presidential provisions at each meeting I attended and no-one raised the land issue.  Mugabe’s trump card meant not a fig to the electorate.

Then the NO vote and Mugabe’s reaction.  His speech was so very reassuring that everyone, including the white community, thought that democracy had truly arrived in Zimbabwe and the euphoria was tangible.  But never listen to what Mugabe says – watch what he does!  For me the speech was too condescending and I immediately went on guard.

Then followed a liturgy of mistakes:

Firstly Mugabe felt that the electorate had rejected him personally as he wanted the provisions of the constitution to guarantee him a further two years office. This was not an issue with the electorate.  The vote was not a rejection of him per se but a rejection of a badly crafted piece of legislation which was to carry the country forward forever.  The electorate felt that ten years was enough for ANY president, they felt that the presidential powers were too great, they felt that there were not enough checks and balances on the executive.  Added to the No vote were those who had picked up the citizen provisions denying them and their offspring citizenship.

Secondly, he was furious that his trump card had not swayed the vote and he had to blame someone.  First off was the commercial farmers.  He thought that they had mobilized for a No vote because of Clause 16.  The only thing that the farmers did, by and large, was to enthusiastically provide transport for their labour as this was an exiting and national event.  They were generally ignorant of the provisions of the draft constitution as the vast majority had not read it, unlike their labourers and rural neighbours, and not in a position to advise anyone how to vote.  Within days the land invasions started.  Just for clarity sake – the war veterans could not have mobilised so quickly and with the police giving them impunity if the invasions were solely because they felt that the rejection of the Constitution would deny them access to land, it could only have been sparked off and orchestrated by the highest office in the land, President Mugabe. Why?  Simply because he needed to punish someone for the rejection he felt.

His third big mistake was to let Jonathan Moyo blame the MDC.  If anyone effectively promoted the NO vote it was the NCA, not the MDC, which was still almost unheard of.  By hammering away at the MDC, Moyo uplifted the party to a significant force and positioned it to replace ZANU(PF) and Mugabe.  The MDC could never have afforded the advertising that Moyo gave them.  Then, and even now, I wondered if the learned professor was actually trying to promote regime change by alienating the electorate from ZANU(PF). He played a leading role in the crafting and promotion of the draft constitution, the electorate hated the clamp down on newspapers and the relentless ZANU(PF) propaganda on ZBC and ZTV.  They wanted entertainment and love to read anything and everything – witness the number of satellite dishes even at police stations.  By denying the electorate entertaining media he seriously alienated the electorate across the country.

Another big mistake was to assume that the commercial farm employees are mostly foreigners and of no major political influence.  Whilst many may be of foreign decent, by marriage, most are mixed into the Shona lineage too. By punishing the commercial farmers their labourers were caught in the cross fire and he alienated many of his previously loyal Shona support.  The commercial farmers adjoining communal areas, too, provided casual labour allowing the rural farmers to earn money for their cropping inputs.  This avenue of financing cropping dried up and has contributed greatly to the general poverty we now see in the rural areas.  In Guruve North one farmer employed 1 000 casuals and this must have represented almost every household in the neighbouring communal Negomo area.  Another farmer provided the same for Bakasa and I covered Kachuta.  Basically 3 farmers providing inputs for 3 communal areas!  Of course other farmers in the area to a lesser extent also provided employment to casual and permanent labour from these same communal lands.

In summary, the net effect of these mistakes was to promote the MDC into a formidable force, to force the commercial farmers and the white community in general to financially and logistically support the MDC in order to return sanity to the farming areas and economy, to allow the electorate to think that true democracy had arrived and they could support opposition to ZANU(PF) rule, and to generally alienate the electorate from ZANU(PF). Mugabe lost all respect he had hitherto enjoyed and his continued rule could only be through violence and coercion.


  • comment-avatar
    Shame 9 years ago

    @Alan McComick

    Don’t tell me all these years you have hung around from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe you can’t make an accurate political anaylisis?

    The MDC was formed by ZANU PF. This Jonathan Moyo you are faulting for promoting the MDC is the prophet Jona who, in 1996 prophesised that the then labour union president Morgan Richard Tsvangirai was going to form a political party after the order of Zambian labour party MMD, and 3 years down the line Morgan and co.(Job Sikhala)went right ahead and formed a political party MDC? Surely McComick,you don’t find the irony there? And this MDC was formed on the eve of the yesteryear followed by land invasions. well, tell you what, like I said before, suspect Zanu PF for having formed MDC and you will rest in peace for all the days of darkness when you give up the ghost.MDC was designed to give you false hope whislt the illegally possesed white farms were being seized by the messnger of court( war vets) on ordersof the rightfull owners. Also, it helped to squeeze the last dollar from ill-gotten wealth created by exploiting 1000 Guruve people you want to falsly classify as employees. who doesn’t know you white people sucked the sweat of blacks from the Pacific Ocean Slave Trading century to Zimbabwe Farm invasion days? No-one made any mistakes, I am surprised you even go further to count: one… two… three… mistakes. The 1999 draft constitution was a carefully schemed project to catapult farm invasions. Lest you forget, the Lancaster House agreement proposed a 10 year carte blanche on land, and silly as white folks always are, they tried to occupy and blind Zimbabweans by ESAP after the 10 years. Kungwara kumgwara zvayo asi tsuro haifi yakakwira mumuti. By 2000 the white folks met their match. The farms were taken, followed by companies and the mines. From riches to rags story, now some of your folks are gardeners and rat-poison vendors. The very stuff you visited on blacks for a century years. Show me the mistakes and the fruits of these mistakes, maybe I will see them. MDC? Like I said, MDC is what ZNU PF says it is, if ZANU PF saya MDC is finished, so it will be, it will be writen , it will be done. Like in this case, MDC has served its purpose, its time to de-commission it, and it will be decommissioned soon and replaced by NCA. You think Zimbabwean blacks are fools to let you beat them to this game of politics? I will tell you the biggest mistake made and who made it. Rhodes. he taught the keffirs to read and right, now they have degrees and can measure the themometer and the temperature of politics. They can think not just like, but better than Rhodes and six Ex-British prime Ministers put together.
    Thank you, Thank you for listening
    Such a shame!

    • comment-avatar
      Chivulamapoti 9 years ago

      It’s no wonder they call you Shame, e very appropriate name indeed.
      Mugabage, Tsvangarai they are all crooks. What is amusing is you have the stupidity to compare ‘kaffirs’ (your term) to Rhodes. Rhodes was the leader of the fifth Colonist. First Colonist of Zimbabwe – San and khoisan colonized by the Mapungubwe. Mapungubwe colonized by Manhumutapa and built Great Zimbabwe. Manhumutapa colonized by the Rozwi. Rozwi colonized by Mzilikatzi, the Zulu. Mzilikatzi ruled ALL that is Zimbabwe today and was followed by son Lobengula. Lobengula colonized by Rhodes. Rhodes (Rhodesia) now one man one vote, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe colonized by China 2006 onwards!

  • comment-avatar
    Kalusha 9 years ago

    Fake history

  • comment-avatar
    Richard 9 years ago

    Who cares what happened in the past. Mugabe engineered himself into the position he is in today. And because of this has ruined a great country and people. Shame are you proud of yourself in what Zimbabwe HAS NOT achieved. Typical ZANU zealot who cannot admit that this country is in ruins! Well done Shame its people like you that are the poison in society, shame on you.

  • comment-avatar
    mucha 9 years ago

    Alan McCormick, don’t misrepresent facts and history. The history you are talking about is not of the Stone Age period. We were here when these things were happening. Tell us it’s your opinion and not facts.

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    Mr Mixed Race 9 years ago

    Mr Shame you are a very angry and frustrated person who really hurts what is not of his kind.I wonder whether you could have reacted in this way if this article was written by a black person.When you explode like this in a public debate you make yourself look like a fool who is not qualified to comment on national issues.Let us avoid judging each other on racial grounds but on facts and correct one another using decent language.We know that some people are benefiting from this current chaotic situation in our country, but very soon things will become so bad that their resources will get finished, unless we rectify our economy soon.GROW UP AND BE CONSTRUCTIVE IN THESE DEBATES.

    • comment-avatar
      Angel 9 years ago

      I AM VERY SORRY BROTHER BUT I FULLY DISAGREE WITH YOU.The fast track land reform became a political necessity for the ruling Zanu-PF dictatorship. It had little to do with justice and a new economic path, as some naive researchers have suggested, and everything to do with bloated plutocrats hanging on to the state at any cost.Prior to land reform, Zimbabwe produced not only sufficient maize, wheat, and other grains, but a surplus was exported. Since land reform there has been a critical dependence on imports. Approximately 1.8 million tonnes of maize are required annually to meet the country’s needs against the current national yield of a little more than 300 thousand tonnes per year. Since 2000, there have been 13 consecutive years of food deficits and the United Nations has recently appealed for more than $100 million dollars to feed 1.7 million Zimbabweans in 2013. Production of wheat continues to be constrained by lack of access to inputs and an unstable power supply, arising from a bankrupt state that cannot maintain and invest in infrastructure.

  • comment-avatar

    Shame you are only right in one comment, “riches to rags story”, that is very well summarised indeed!