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Enough is Enough
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18 July 2004
On April 18, 1980, as Zimbabweans of all walks of life celebrated the end of the liberation war and the lowering of the Union Jack, the dignitaries at Rufaro Stadium knew that Independence was not complete. Lord Soames knew it, Lord Carrington knew it, Joshua Nkomo knew it and Robert Mugabe knew it. At Lancaster House six months earlier, they had been forced to agree to postpone any wholesale expropriation of white-owned land for ten years. A major objective of the struggle could not be achieved, and a bitter resentment against the British power-brokers remained hidden under the smiling face of reconciliation.
Having failed to gain immediate access to the land at Independence, one of the greatest challenges to Robert Mugabe’s government would be to resolve the unequal distribution at a later date, in such a way that land-hungry black Zimbabweans became productive commercial farmers without disrupting the economy. His challenge was to undertake an economic and social transformation which would lay the basis for increased production and a much wider distribution of disposable income, in turn fueling the manufacturing and services sectors. Twenty-four years later, it is starkly evident that ZANU PF has failed, the armed struggle has not been vindicated, and the country is in a much worse condition than it was at the end of the liberation war.
In 1980, Mugabe nurtured relations with white farmers while concentrating his governing efforts on fulfilling the other promises of the struggle – education and health services. In those early years, a revolution took place in the social sector as the majority of families sent their children to secondary schools and accessed health care never previously available. A small land resettlement programme based on willing seller, willing buyer was introduced and models of land use were developed. And then Mugabe took his eye off the development ball and lost the plot.
In 1982 he found an excuse to turn on his ZAPU partners in government and, obsessed with eliminating any political loyalty outside ZANU PF, spent the next four years unleashing a terrifying punishment on the ordinary people and leaders of Matabeleland, who had solidly supported ZAPU. At the same time, he allowed his ministers to focus their energies on developing businesses to amass private wealth, very frequently at the expense of the public purse. He bought the loyalty of his own lieutenants by licensing them to engage in corrupt practices.
By the end of the 1980’s, the ZAPU opposition had been forced to surrender, the economy was in serious trouble, and interest in the struggling resettlements had faded. But the people who had waited 10 years to get land had not forgotten. They were expecting, starting in 1990, a land revolution. Surely in ten years, ZANU should have been able to prepare a comprehensive programme. The resettlement undertaken should have provided a laboratory to select the most appropriate approach. By 1990 it was clear that the Model A and Model B schemes were at best moderately successful but had major failings, which needed correction. No new programmes were in place. Government was far from prepared.
Any programme for land redistribution requires two complementary aspects – the removal of land from the over-privileged possessors and its allocation to new people; since these new people should be the dispossessed with no resources, a plan also needs to be in place to assist them to become productive. The new Land Acquisition Act was only passed through Parliament in 1992; it dealt only with one side of the equation – getting the land from its owners. It did not deal with how the land should be distributed and used. To address this issue, a Land Commission was only appointed in 1991, reported in 1994, and then its recommendations were ignored. In spite of the problems surrounding implementation of the 1992 Act, 400 farms were acquired in the early nineties. But very little resettlement took place. Administrators and politicians blatantly abused their positions. They took the opportunity to award themselves almost rent-free leases “while a policy for distribution was being worked out”. Why had government slept for ten years, while they could have been preparing a programme? An inspection of the national budgets for the early nineties reveals that the highest allocated for all aspects of resettlement in any one year was .4% of the total. Certainly this does not show any seriousness of purpose. It suited those in power to hang on to the land themselves and blame others for the problems, while policies and mechanisms for resettlement never saw the light of day.
By the beginning of the 1990’s, government was already embroiled in ESAP, which focussed on exports to earn foreign exchange. It played havoc with the fortunes of small producers, both in the communal areas and in small-scale commercial and resettlement communities. The large scale farmers were best positioned to take advantage of export promotion facilities. Their fortunes soared as they made use of their vast resources to irrigate previously rain-fed crops, computerise their operations, and achieve international standards in quality, packaging and delivery systems. And the gap between them and the impoverished communal farmer, the resettled farmer, the small-scale commercial farmer and the urban youth, who were on the receiving end of ESAP’s reduction in social spending, grew and grew.
In 2000, the results of the constitutional referendum awakened government to the fact that their support was waning and the opposition’s star was rising. They took a catastrophic decision to use the land issue to hang on to political power. They decided to abandon any idea of a planned, gradual reform, and return to the violent practices of the war to redistribute land. In this way they would eclipse the opposition and give the people what they wanted.
Land invasions did not begin in 2000. There had already been many, and the problem of “squatters” was commonplace. What began in 2000 was government initiated and supported occupations accompanied frequently by violence, unlawful evictions of farmers and their workers from their homes and farms, destruction of property, theft of produce and equipment. The attempt to keep the activities “legal” was eventually abandoned, the judiciary subverted, and the law enforcement agencies compromised. Both the acquisition and allocation of land degenerated into chaos, highly politicised with heavy racial overtones. No sensible economic reform could take place in such an environment, and none did.
Four years later, while the process drags on, it is possible to assess the result and the damage that has been done.
In 2004, there are very few white commercial farmers left in position. What is in their place? A very wide variety of “solutions” exists around the country. According to the A1 model, farms were to be subdivided according to the old Model A resettlement, with 6 hectares arable, and a residential plot allocated to each farmer, and communal grazing shared. Variations occurred according to specific needs, with drier ranching areas having subdivisions up to 2,000 hectares. It is worth noting that generally the amounts of land allocated in this way were sufficient for subsistence or very small scale commercial farming, but not enough to raise the standard of living of beneficiaries in any substantial way without very high levels of investment and expertise.
According to the A2 model, individuals who were deemed to have their own resources for farming were allocated whole farms or large chunks of farms, allegedly suitable for large-scale farming; most of these recipients are top government or party officials or army officers, many of whom appropriated one or more farms themselves with the use of force or threat of force.
Most of the land allocated to “new farmers” has been done on one of these two models. However, there are places where there are other arrangements. In the most promising of these, the original white farmer has been allowed to retain a portion of his land in exchange for sharing his expertise and often his equipment with the new settlers. Some highly productive units have failed after having been taken over by government institutions or government-linked institutions such as Zimbabwe Defence Industries, ARDA or army units.
There seems to have been a variety of means of deciding who is to get what. The attempt to designate land committees worked in some places, but these simply became tools of political patronage, and often were totally ignored by powerful individuals who used their muscle to grab whatever they wanted.
Through the chaos and confusion of the violence-driven process, it should not be surprising that only a percentage of those to whom land has been allocated have actually occupied it. While 97% of A1 model land had been taken up, only 66% of A2 allocated land had been taken up.
Those taking up A1 model land were generally rural peasants, unemployed war veterans, or unemployed urban people who had no resources with which to farm. So the first problem was of inputs. In the first years of occupation, government did supply seed, fertilizer and even living allowances. However, with such a haphazard distribution, these often fell into the wrong hands, or were simply sold by the beneficiaries for cash, and in the absence any proper system of accountability, the “loan” was never repaid. In subsequent years, as government’s coffers emptied and inputs were in any case hard to come by because of the economic collapse, the new farmers generally failed to access even this assistance. There were no health services, in most places no schools, as these had been operated by the commercial farmers themselves. Because the farms were broken up, individuals often found they were given an unproductive section, either with poor soil or without water or with poor access. A large ranch would have one dam used for several paddocks, and perhaps only one dipping point. Possibly several new farmers would have access to the dam, but many would not, and it would be necessary for them to co-operate both in regard to water and dipping facilities.
Where former farmers were allowed to remain on a portion of the land and assist the new settlers, some of the problems of input supply, infrastructure and expertise have been resolved, but not all. Where they were not allowed, what we have is rather an extension of communal area poverty, land far from its productive potential and people living in squalor.
Those taking up A2 model land were almost all employed people living in towns or cities. Some have managed to take an interest in their land and make it productive, but many have simply reaped the standing crop and then left the land derelict. Others have rented the land to a company such as FSI, which has carried out productive activities and at least kept some amount of agriculture going. Those who have tried to manage their own farming operations have had a variety of difficulties, including securing labour. Some have tried to force remaining farm workers to continue working, but for a fraction of very low gazetted wages. There are reports of farm labour refusing to work even for gazetted wages, and other reports, confirmed in Parliament, of prisoners being allocated to farms to provide free or sub-economic labour. The potential for abuse that this suggests harks back to the worst practises of apartheid South Africa
Former farm workers have perhaps been the most disadvantaged. In very few cases have they been given land in their own right (less than 3% of the total land allocated went to farm workers and just over 3% of farm workers were given plots of land). Some have moved back to crowded communal lands (27%), or remained on the resettled farm (47%). Some of these have managed to survive on piece-work, while others have been forced to work for the new owners in return for the right to remain, with virtually no wage. Others have been forced off the farms where they used to work, and have become the most pathetic of the dispossessed, camped by roadsides for periods while some charity or other came to their rescue. Many drifted into towns to join the lumpenproletariat – the sub working class of urban scroungers.
Throughout the years 2000 to 2002 we were constantly reminded by ZBC radio that “the land is the economy; the economy is the land”. How true. But only if the land is productive will that economy flourish. When it is not productive, the economy will collapse. And the dislocation caused by the fast-track land redistribution has confirmed the aphorism beyond any doubt. The effects of the “reform” has been disastrous for almost everyone.
Firstly, there has been a catastrophic collapse in production levels. This meant food shortages, lack of inputs for industry, lack of exports, lack of disposable incomes for farmers, and the spin-offs from all of these. Decline in business in all sectors of the economy from manufacturers of farm equipment, to leasing, insurance, advertising and manufacturers of tea and coffee reached over 50% in some sectors as early as June 2000.
Secondly, the lack of agricultural and other exports led to a serious shortage of foreign exchange, which further affected industry and commerce and brought these sectors to their knees. This situation was aggravated by the artificial exchange rates and politically motivated price controls without compensating subsidies.
Thirdly, the inflation produced by government’s borrowing and deficit spending to finance the “reform” made it difficult for communal, small scale and large scale black commercial farmers to sustain viable profit levels, thus affecting production legels even further.
Fourthly, the lack of security of tenure on resettled land (only a few had secured 99 year leases) meant that none of the new farmers on A1 land had collateral for securing loans even for seasonal inputs, and this made it difficult for production levels to pick up after the initial dislocation. Apparently government still has no plan in this regard, with a recent statement by one senior government official that all land would be nationalised being almost immediately denied by another. Insecurity of tenure has also meant that an occupier has no means of defending his position except by resorting to violence. Many have been forcibly removed from their allocations by individuals with more powerful muscle.
Fifthly, because the whole was accomplished by subverting legal processes and the use of violence, the law became irrelevant on resettled land. Control of issues such as boundary disputes, proper conservation of the environment, damage to crops, theft of animals etc fell to whatever process of negotiation or conflict was developed by the individuals concerned. The potential for settling of disputes between new farmers by violence has become alarmingly high. We could end up with a situation of warlordism where might becomes right and armed conflicts flare up all over the country.
Sixthly, with the police and army used to aid and abet the violent seizure of land, and the courts no longer applying the law without fear or favour, the rule of law broke down and no one could feel secure of protection by the law, not just on farms, but in any situation of conflict in the country. The effect has been felt especially in the collapse of tourism and the flight of foreign investment.
Seventhly, the environment has been negatively affected in a wide variety of ways. Former farm workers, unemployed factory workers, and communal youths unable to find work in the collapsing economy, scrounged a living however they could. Many tens if not hundreds of thousands turned to gold panning and gold digging. The police ignored the illegality of it all, and joined in the bonanza, along with rural teachers and other poorly paid employees of various sorts. The effect on the environment has been predictably devastating. Furthermore, those settled on A1 land, and even some on A2 land either had no interest in farming or had no means to secure inputs. They survived by denuding the land of its resources – cutting down trees to sell firewood, snaring animals wherever they could for meat for eating and for sale. Some of these activities were carried out by land occupiers before land was allocated to them. Previously flourishing conservancies have had their wildlife populations decimated.
Eighthly, the fast-track resettlement has deprived the government of important sources of revenue. Farmers paid taxes. Manufacturers of agricultural goods paid taxes, purchasers of goods paid taxes. All of these sources of income for government have been decimated, forcing it to borrow, and driving inflation higher and higher. ZIMRA officials now go around the markets trying to identify new farmers selling produce so that they can be added to the tax roll.
Ninth, the spin-off from lack of production, lack of foreign exchange, lack of purchasing power and spiralling inflation has undermined all sorts of legitimate businesses, including in the commercial and services sector.
In 2004, we find ourselves with an economy in free-fall and still falling, a collapse of agricultural production, high unemployment, hyper inflation, collapse of social services, both public and private, and huge numbers of Zimbabweans pouring out of the country to seek a means of surviving elsewhere. The attempts by some “realists” in ZANU PF to work co-operatively with a few remaining white farmers, and to reduce the levels of blatant corruption and violence, seem so far to be eclipsed by the radicals who continue with their campaign to target every last farm associated with white ownership, including farms protected by international agreements, farms designated as export processing zones and highly successful conservancies. The combination of the downward spiral of economic depression with violence and lawlessness continue to make Zimbabwean lives miserable.
And all so unnecessary - but inevitable once ZANU PF decided to try to solve an economic, political and social problem by using violence. The art of the politician is to achieve positive results by persuasion, negotiation and balancing of interests of various groups in conflict. This could have been done, and a rational land reform could have been implemented in Zimbabwe if government had been single-minded in their efforts to solve the problem from April 1980. But they failed to educate the white farmers as to their need to compromise, they failed to work out a comprehensive plan for dispossession of land for resettlement in a gradual way, to establish clear criteria for the beneficiaries of redistribution, or to develop a programme for support of the resettled. They failed to adopt a rational land tenure system and failed to retain the support of donors and international institutions without whom resettlement would be an economic disaster. Instead they reverted to the irrational, choosing to blame others for their own policy failures. And worst of all, they failed to admit they failed and have clung greedily and brutally to power to prevent any other Zimbabweans from trying a different route.
And so what we have today is not a prosperous nation where the wealth is more evenly distributed and the economy is developing. What we have is a people living in destitution and despair in the ruin of an economy and in fear of repressive tyranny, while a small group of political favourites plunder the land of the little wealth it still retains.
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By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 07/20/2004 07:41:50 Last updated: 07/20/2004 00:53:05
EXILED Zimbabwe judge Michael Majuru was offered a farm to shut down Zimbabwe's only daily independent paper, it was claimed Monday.
Majuru, a former Judge President of the Administrative Court told the Daily News Online that Enock Kamushinda, a local businessman with strong links to the government and a CIO operative offered him a farm if he upheld a government decision to close down the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday.
Majuru who fled last year talked of how the government used a carrot and stick approach to force him to rule in favour of the government.
In an interview with the Daily News Online, the former judge opened up and narrated how justice minister Patrick Chinamasa directly and indirectly exerted pressure on him to delay the ANZ case and subsequently throw the case out.
The former judge also talked about how the members of the dreaded spy agency, CIO, became part of his convoy wherever he went.
Majuru presided over the case in which the ANZ sought to have the Media and Information Commission (MIC)’s decision to deny the newspaper a licence nullified.
But the former judge was later forced to recuse himself in November after government-controlled media alleged that he had told a member of the public that he would rule in favour of ANZ.
A month before that, on October 24, 2003, Majuru had ruled that the MIC should issue a licence to the Daily News by November 30, failing which the paper would be deemed to have been registered.
Majuru had been presiding over one of the numerous cases involving the ANZ which has appealed several times against government orders that it be shut down.
That decision was set aside when the commission appealed against the ruling, but the Daily News went back to the administrative court to have it enforced.
It was that anticipated ruling, seeking the enforcement of the earlier order, which saw the judge accused of unprofessional conduct.
He recused himself from the case and another judge, Selo Nare, took over, who also ruled in favour of the Daily News.
“Three days before the judgment, Kamushinda called me to his office through a CIO operative saying he had some business to discuss with me. But when I got there he started talking about the Daily News. He asked me whether I had a farm and when I responded in the negative he said he could organise a farm for me and that the government had promised to provide me with inputs and money to finance the venture.
“But this would be on condition that I ruled in favour of the MIC. I told him that I could not discuss the issue of the Daily News with him as this would be unethical.
“But he persisted, saying that he had a lot of influence and that the government had already identified a farm that was complete with a farm house and equipment for me. I refused his offer,” said Majuru.
Majuru said it was after he had refused Kamushinda’s offer that Chinamasa stepped in and asked him to delay the ANZ case by three months.
“On 23 October, Chinamasa called me from Bulawayo where he was attending a pre-budget seminar and asked me what the judgment on the ANZ case would be.
“He said he was concerned that my judgment could land him in trouble and added that it was not yet appropriate for the Daily News to publish. He said the government wanted the newspaper to resume operations in January 2004, time which he thought ZANU PF would have reached an agreement with the MDC.
“I received another call from Chinamasa on Friday 24 October after I had delivered judgment and he was shouting at me and accusing me of basing my judgment on other reasons that had nothing to do with the law.
“I switched off the phone after it became apparent that he was being abusive,” added Majuru.
Both Chinamasa and Kamushinda were unreachable for comment on Friday.
Kamushinda was the chairman of the Grain Marketing Board and Zimbabwe Newspapers, both state-owned entities.
A recent report by the African Union’s executive committee accused the Zimbabwean government of undermining the independence of the judiciary through interference.
Several international bodies have also lambasted the Harare regime of meddling in judicial matters.
Close to 10 judges, including former chief justice Anthony Gubbay, have left the bench over the last four years because of harassment by government ministers and officials.
Majuru said real trouble started when the ANZ came back to the Administrative Court to have his earlier judgment enforced.
He said Chinamasa started calling him again and also used another judge at the same court to tell Majuru that the government expected a favourable ruling from him.
“This was when I noticed that I was under surveillance. CIOs were trailing me all over I went and I was feeling very uncomfortable.”
“Chinamasa called me one Monday night, a day before hearing the second application and demanded to know the judgment. I told him that it was not normal for judges to pass judgments before hearing the arguments and as a lawyer himself he ought to know that.
“He then said that he had received information that I was working with British agents to bring back the Daily News and destabilise the country and warned me to be careful,” said Majuru.
But Chinamasa was not done: “Immediately after I spoke to him, a fellow judge called me and said she had been told by the minister to instruct me that he wanted a favourable judgment.
“In fact he wanted to know the judgment before attending a cabinet meeting at 9am where he had to brief his colleagues on the matter.
“Fifteen minutes after talking to my fellow judge, Chinamasa called again and said he wanted to meet me in his office at 8.30 am on Tuesday before he attended a Cabinet meeting. This was the same day I was going to hear the ANZ case as well.”
Majuru said it was in Chinamasa’s office that he offered to recuse himself after the minister showed him newspaper reports alleging that he had told members of the public that he would rule in favour of ANZ.
“I knew it was all cooked up to tarnish my name but then I also thought that the harassment would stop once I recused myself from the case.
“What worried me was that even after dropping from the case I continued to see CIO agents trailing me on my way home. I was no longer clear of their intentions and I was worried that they could harm me or my family, especially with those guys’ track record.
“I thought the best thing would be for me to just
leave the country,” said the former judge.
Additional reporting Daily News Online