Casualties of Democratic War

via Casualties of Democratic War – The Zimbabwean 1 March 2015 by Eddie Cross

One of our former commercial farmers said to me some time ago, “it’s because of you guys in the MDC that Zimbabwe is in such a mess!” He expanded his view by explaining that if the MDC had not challenged the hegemony of Zanu PF over the State, they would never have done what they have done, to commercial agriculture.

This remark has been simmering in my mind for some time and I think there is a lot of truth in it and that perhaps it was time to unpack this hypothesis a bit more.

When we won the No Vote in 2000 against the adoption of a new Constitution (that we had been agitating for, for nearly a decade), the State President went onto television and stated that he regretted the decision, but respected the views of the people and would continue to govern the country under the old Constitution. Dave Coltart and I watched that telecast and he said to me “watch what that wily old devil does now!’

He was correct; Zanu PF carried out a post referendum analysis and discovered that despite rigging the vote, they had lost massively and that the vote had been split between the urban areas which had voted for MDC and the tribal areas, which had voted Zanu PF. The “swing vote” had been 6000 large scale commercial farms with 350 000 workers and their families – probably 600 000 voters, who had voted for the new boys on the block, MDC. To compound this analysis they concluded that the white farmers, financially strong and well organised had played a key role in this massive result for a fledgling Party just 6 months old and led by a man with two years of formal education.

Within two weeks, the farm invasions began under the guise of a “Fast Track Land Reform Programme” and in the subsequent campaign conducted across the country a number of white farmers were murdered and their farms occupied. In the following years nearly all farmers who do not have good links with the Party, have been forcibly removed from their farms and in many cases, rendered homeless and destitute. Many were not even allowed to take their personal belongings.

All focus was on the white farmers – televisions showed pictures of gangs of thugs burning homes and killing dogs, very few followed what happened to those 350 000 workers and their families. They were dispossessed and made homeless, many creeping back to the farms after the owners had been driven out and squatting on the properties that they worked on. The farms – worth many billions of dollars with nearly 3 million head of cattle, 287 000 hectares of irrigation, 10 000 farm dams and millions of miles of fencing and water pipelines, homes, sheds, 25 000 tractors, were trashed, assets stolen and sold for scrap or transferred to new places. In a Court of law I have no doubt that the compensation bill would be over $30 billion.

They were an easy target – other African States simply did not understand the significance of what was happening or the real reasons and the international community, just as had happened in 1983/87 with Ghukurahundi, wrung their hands and did nothing. They were casualties of a democratic war.

It was not the first time, in 1983, just after Independence, Mr. Mugabe decided that the continued opposition of the Party known as Zapu, under the leadership of Joshua Nkomo, could no longer be tolerated. His plans for the country called for a one Party State and since Independence in 1980, Zapu had dominated the south Western Provinces where a number of minority Nguni tribes lived. Joshua Nkomo was a clear threat and in many ways could claim to be the father of the Nationalist struggle and therefore of Independence itself.

In a savage, no holds barred campaign that lasted 4 years, the political resistance of Zapu was crushed, tens of thousands were murdered, many at the hands of the 5th Brigade, trained by the North Koreans and selected on an ethnic basis. Hundreds of thousands fled the country and homes were burned, cattle hamstrung and women raped. They called the campaign Ghukurahundi which means a “storm that washes clean”. In 1987, Joshua Nkomo, a broken man, conceded defeat and his Party was absorbed into Zanu PF and Mugabe got his one Party State, a situation that was to prevail until 1999 when the MDC was born.

The full extent of the savagery was not revealed until the Catholic Church published a report called “Breaking the Silence”. The silence prevailed in Africa and in the international Community who simply sat on their hands and did little to either condemn or correct the tragedy. The people of the southern Districts were casualties of a democratic war, the injuries of which are as raw today as they were 20 years ago.

In 2005, when it became apparent that crushing the farm communities had not been enough to stop the MDC threat, Zanu PF assessed that if they did nothing about the control that the MDC had in urban areas, they still ran the risk of losing the elections due that year. They launched a campaign in May – the coldest time of the year, to destroy informal homes in urban areas and informal traders, most of whom are fiercely independent. In three months they destroyed 300 000 homes, displaced 1,2 million people into the rural areas and destroyed some 700 000 small business ventures.

Subsequent studies have shown that up to half the men so displaced died, the women were more resilient. Small children had little chance of survival and because they had been forcibly removed to remote rural areas, they were unable to vote in the 2005 elections. The scars remain, but the people affected, among the poorest people in the country, are simply more victims of a democratic war. The Zanu PF named this campaign “Murambatsvina” or “get rid of the rubbish.”

Today, while MR. Mugabe and his 20 000 acolytes recover after yesterdays binge at the Victoria Falls, over 90 per cent of all Zimbabweans struggle to survive, 70 per cent on less than 35 US cents a day. Life expectancy is just 34 years, our hospitals are morgues, our schools are care centers for kids with nothing else to do. We are among the poorest people in the world, when before this protracted democratic war began, we had been a middle income State with the second most advanced economy in Africa and a major net exporter of food.

This is a war against the people of this country, a war to maintain control at any cost by a small group who have lost all political support but insist that only they have the right to rule. Should we not have taken to the field of this conflict? Should we have done what Joshua Nkomo did when the price of democratic resistance simply became too high to bear, cave in and leave the field? After all you cannot eat a vote! I grieve every day for friends and former colleagues who have lost everything in this struggle; I grieve with the families of the victims of Ghukurahundi and Murambatsvina.

MDC is not a Party drawn from the middle or upper classes, it’s a Party of the poor and nowhere else is the suffering of this campaign for democracy, human and political rights and even freedom, more keenly felt because they have no where else to go. Yet when I speak to our structures across the landscape of this beautiful, but broken country and I ask “do we carry on the fight” their faces light up and the response is yes, no matter what the cost, no matter what the price, this is a struggle we have to win for all our futures.

This is no longer just a process involving election campaigns; this is a democratic war and one that we must win if we are going to secure all our futures.


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    farai 6 years ago

    The saddesr thing is thar Eddie probable believes all this gibberish. The biggest protector of white interests, white status was one RGM. Patron of this and that white interest. Only him could control the radical side of the the revolution. Failure to correctly read signals and a typical Rhodie hard headedness created conditions for the hardliners to hijack the agenda. There was even an expectation from the Rhodies that RGM would set the policy and army against his own people who were demanding their legitimate rights! RGM is nor the problem, Rhodie incorrigable mentality is. The mistaken belief that this country needs Rhodie capital, Rhodie intellect, Rhodie expertise and Rhodie manpower is not only misguided but is also overated. Rhodesia’s claimed efficiency was because 100% of the country’s population and its resources served the total needs of 20% of the population. You are fighting a loosing battle Eddie, look around RGM has spawned!

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      mupurisa 6 years ago

      No Farai, the saddest thing is that there are so many racist people like you out there who blindly worship Mugabe & Zanu PF, pretending that this whole problem is still related to patriotism & sovereignity, when in fact it has quite simply become a battle between a good cause and an extremely evil one!!

      The good cause obviously being the vast majority of Zimbabweans (in and outside) which represent the victims of ZANU PF’s evil and incompetence for the last 34 years. Haunyari, imbwa yemunhu!! In the long run, when you and your ZANU accolytes have run out of things to destroy, you will probably actually find that it’s you who is fighting the loosing cause!!!

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      Tinomunamataishe 6 years ago

      @farai – this is a throw back to the dark ages and has no relavance whatsoever in 2015. The truth of the matter is that Mugabe is a racist leader whose incompetence doesn’t need a rocket scientist to divulge.

      This is not a time to look at the colour of anybody’s skin, a lot of people have moved beyond that and we need to see fact as fact.

      Now he is admitting to mistakes in land reform when people were saying the same 15 years ago and now look how many lives have been lost direct on indirectly because of his flawed policies.

      Maybe you are happy as long as he is black and can orchestrate the killing of more than 20,000 innocent black civilians in gruesome manner.

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    truthbetold 6 years ago

    It is interesting to read this that people who are in the know make statements like this.
    But history has it that any colonized country 30 years or so after Independence, that country would be a basket case. Start looking at South America work your way through Africa through the middle east, head East, Afgan to through to the South East Asia. All these Countries 30 yrs or so after Independence had gone through what Zimbabwe has and is going through. Look at the problems SA is going through as Namibia as South Sudan. The only thing that has not happened in Zim has been the open Military Coup, but did this happen when JOC came into power? We know that they are the ones playing their Puppets.
    So here is my predictions.
    When the Old Man does give way there will be a civil war amongst the parties because history says it must happen.
    The Army will take charge. history says so.
    When People have Had enough of war and suffering they will see that there is a legitimate Government put in place. Again history says so.
    Look at all the other Countries north of Zim. This is the path that Zim will follow. As will South Africa as will Namibia..
    But in the meantime People will suffer the greedy will trod on the needy.
    If only people will see this pattern understand it and work to avoid what is to come.
    And my last wish is for the Old Man to live a lot longer than We all hope for.. As his friends are leaving him one by one it will give him time to reflect on his life. A funny thing old age, it makes to you relive to good times and the sad times.

    God bless you in Zimbabwe. Stand for what you Believe in, and Believe in what you stand for.

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    farai 6 years ago

    Mapurisa, Seeing as I am a dog in yo wisdom, what does the fact that u are engaging a dog in a debate make u? I am not trained in that field of human behavioural sciences but I will let those who are deal with this obvious observation.

    You are not the vast majority but merely the vocal unthinking majority. The vast majority (67%) did their thing on June 2013 and you my friend, with yo unique ability to argue with a dog, are still barking! All I will say to you is, RGM has spawned and the silent majority of Zimbabweans want their birth given rights, u on the other hand, r free to continue barking, its yo constitutionally guaranteed right.

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    Good article. It accurately captures the essence of Mugabe’s rule: a war against democracy so that he can remain in power for ever.

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    Great article ! The only gibberish I see is in farai’s comment. Nobody said anything about Rhodie capital, interlect and expertise except you. You were also the one who called yourself a dog, nobody else! Why can we not put all that hate talk behind us and and start to celebrate each others differences and strengths so that Zim can go forward. We dont have to destroy each other to do this!

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    1n the recent world cup cricket match against Pakistan white and black Zimbabweans sat side by side and cheered their side on. That Rhodie story does not wash any more. I did not see any of the draping the Rhodesia flag. What I did see was Zimbabweans of different colours waving the Zimbabwean flag proudly. Hatred is like a disease and eats you up on the inside. Forgiving is the beginning of growth. Not forgetting is the documenting of history. History records are important in knowing where you come from and staying away from the mistakes you’ve made along the way.

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    Guvnor 6 years ago

    Democracy is not a permanent state it must be fought for to sustain it. Even established democracies like Germany and Japan succumbed to dictatorship at one stage. In the case of Zimbabwe democracy has been subverted or denied by those who would want to remain in power at all costs. The results of this cretin like approach are plain to see.

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    Farai 6 years ago

    According to Eddie, of the BCG fame, we hv no democracy and he hs to fight for the poor to achieve democracy.
    According to Eddie, Mugabe should hv done nothing when a group of renegede army deserters made the southern regions of the country ungovernable. Mugabe should hv done nothing when people wantonly ignored planning by-laws and settled themselves in Urban areas illegally. Mugabe should hv protected the few white farmers who stubbornly refused to share the land. As Eddie fights for his democracy for the poor, he should not be suprised to meet the real poor fighting more vigorously for a share of the economic cake. The real poor do not care about fake democracy and fake democrats, they care much more for the cake and how you propose to share it.
    To claim that you are fighting for the poor Mr Eddie is, very rich. I put it to you that u do not even know the poor.