Brad Cibane
Brad Cibane

Any hope for Zimbabwe?

To sincerely (and fiercely) discuss Zimbabwe’s future, we must first recount what we know about Zimbabwe’s past. The past is the appropriate context within which we must frame our judgment of Zimbabwe’s progress.

We know that in the “Scramble for Africa” Zimbabwe became a British colony. That in 1930 land ownership was racialised by the Land Apportionment Act, which declared half of land “European land” not to be sold to non-Europeans — 95% of the population was forced to share the remaining half.

Between 1947 and 1954 white veterans returning from World War II forced native Zimbabweans off much of the already apportioned land. Native communities, suddenly deemed “squatters”, were displaced and forced into “tribal lands” under the guise of the Tribal Trust Land. White farmers were beneficiaries of the racialised land policy.

One such farmer was Ian Smith. Smith went on to rule (then) Rhodesia under the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965.

A 14-year liberation war ensued. At the dawn of liberation, the Rhodesian government decided to negotiate in order to secure tenure for European Zimbabweans. The negotiations culminated in the so-called “Lancaster House Agreement” (1979).

Land was a topical issue during the negotiations between the Patriotic Front (Zanu and Zapu) and the Rhodesian government. In resolve, the British at Lancaster House agreed to fund land reform on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis. The British pledged more than £630 million in aid.

In 1985 the Land Acquisition Act was enacted to give effect to the “willing buyer, willing seller” style of land reform. However, due to pushback by farmers and lack of government funds, the Act proved ineffective.

In 1992 the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle was removed from the Land Acquisition Act. This caused some increase in the pace of land reform between 1992 and 1997. There is some dispute as to how much the British contributed up until 1997. London places the figure at £44 million while the Zimbabwean government places the figure at measly £17. In any event, the British withdrew financial support in 1997 arguing the Mugabe was giving land to cronies.

In 1998 liberation war veterans, frustrated by the slow pace of land reform, took dire action. In a process called jambanja — “force action in anger” (Shona) — veterans occupied farms overnight and threw out white farmers. Although the Zanu-PF regime was initially opposed to the jambanja, it eventually responded by adopting the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme Phase II (1998).

We know that, from then, the Zimbabwean story became murky, then bloody and then utterly untolerable. The international community responded by condemning the Zanu-PF regime and imposing sanctions on leaders. The regime took a “sovereignist” stance. The political situation deteriorated and the economy crumbled under the clasp of hyperinflation. In an attempt to regain control (and save face) the regime ran roughshod on human rights. Many Zimbabweans ran for safety in neighbouring countries and abroad.

After much discord and regrettable bloodshed, Zimbabweans, assisted by the international community, negotiated a “peace settlement” in the form of the Global Political Agreement. The agreement brought hope of a renewed Zimbabwe; a Zimbabwe “DETERMINED to build a society free of violence, fear, intimidation, hatred, patronage, corruption and founded on justice, fairness, openness, transparency, dignity and equality”.

The story does not end there. An air of incredulity and mistrust persists in Zimbabwe. Despite the commitment by Zimbabwean people to “work together to create a genuine, viable, permanent, sustainable and nationally acceptable solution to the Zimbabwe situation” — political violence looms.

What then is the hope for Zimbabwe?
I think hope for Zimbabwe lies in the Draft Constitution. This Constitution is the culmination of Zimbabwe’s commitment to a genuine, sustainable solution.

Section 2 provides that “This Constitution is the supreme law of Zimbabwe and any law, practice, custom or conduct inconsistent with it is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency.”

Section 3(1) provides that “Zimbabwe is founded on respect for the following values and principles: (a) supremacy of the Constitution; (b) the rule of law; (c) fundamental human rights and freedoms; … (e) recognition of the inherent dignity and worth of each human being; (f) recognition of the equality of all human beings; (g) gender equality; [and] (h) good governance…”

Section 3(2) commits the state and all institutions and agencies of government at every level to principles of good governance, which include “a multi-party democratic political system; and an electoral system based on (i) universal adult suffrage and equality of votes; (ii) free, fair and regular elections; and (ii) adequate representation of the electorate”.

Section 3(2)(c)-(d) of the Constitution binds the state and all institutions and agencies of government at every level to an “orderly transfer of power following elections” and to “respect for the rights of all political parties”.

The Draft Constitution boasts a Declaration of Rights which is modeled (if not completely based) on the South African internationally acclaimed Bill of Rights. Section 67 of the Declaration of Rights provides that “Every citizen of Zimbabwe has the right: (a) to free, fair and regular elections for any elective public office established in terms of this Constitution or any other law; and (b) to make political choices freely.”

Therefore, while Zimbabwe has vehemently objected to international hypocrisy and to double standards applied by western powers, it has created — of its own accord — a mantle for democracy and human rights.

The Constitution is a watershed and a yardstick that must be used by the international community to judge Zimbabwe’s political progress.

The Constitution must be used to test the fairness of the upcoming elections. Anything less will do grave injustice to Zimbabwe’s progress.

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    • Brent

      Brad, you foget to mention ± 20000 murdered in the early 80’s by Magabe’s 5th Brigade, not a good start to independance. Also the ‘land reform’ of the 90’s was coupled with dreadful oppression of Blacks who had nothing to do with the colonial oppression. Brent

    • Momma Cyndi

      Just two small corrections to your excellent synopsis of their history:
      – The black areas were called ‘locations’ – they thought it sounded so much nicer ( location, location, location, the real-estate mantra – go figure) and many of those included farming areas (not prime farming areas but they did fantastically despite that)
      – Zapu (Nkomo) was the driving force behind the land issue in the Lancaster talks. Mugabe and Nkomo were not exactly best buddies, hence the slaughter, torture and subjugation of the Ndebele nation.
      – Those ‘veterans’ who participated in janbanja were all in their early to mid 20s and all members of the ruling party’s youth league. Unless they were fighting from the womb, most of them didn’t even come close to qualifying as ‘veterans’.

      I hope that Zimbabwe does see peace soon. Gods knows, their people have had enough hell.

    • bernpm

      Not knowing a lot o Zim history, I do recall that in the early Mugabe days some cleansing of Shona’s took place. Did you forget??
      I also seem to remember that Zim was economically doing fairly well. People called it “bread basket” and Zim tobacco was famous. Also not mentioned in your history.
      In the process, Zim has replaced the Zim dollar by the US dollar as daily currency.

      If selective memory makes you happy and feel good…….and allows you your black and white view of the world, be happy.

      Elections?? Free and fair?? Ask the Zimbabweans outside their own country. For me? Time will tell.

    • Richard

      Am I to take it, then, that you think it correct that Mugabe gave land to cronies, and that it was wrong of Britain to oppose this move? And as a corollary to that, that you believe it to be correct that whites were expelled from their farms? Are these the same people who took possession of the farms, or do they merely share their skin-colour? In other words, if one white person purchased the farm from another white person, should such a white person be expelled from their farm? If a black person bought such a farm from a white person, you seem to imply that they should be entitled to remain? In other words, the only thing that decides whether somebody should be deprived of their land is skin-colour, not how the land was acquired? If that is your position, you are of course being racist, which you have decried in previous posts. If you believe in race as a deciding factor of one’s standing before the law, as this seems to imply, you should not pretend to oppose it.

      I am also interested in your calling Western response hypocritical. In what way is it hypocritical? Why is the Lancaster House Agreement “so-called”? Surely that is its name? Are you the so-called Brad Cibane?

    • Zimbo

      The Constitution is no longer a draft but is in fact law.

    • William Doctor

      Pro-ZanuPF propaganda …

    • BAZ

      Unless there’s radical change in power , there willbe no hope for where the country has been foor the last 30/40 years. Should the right government rule ( which I doubt will likely happen ) it would likely take another 30 years to get the counrty up & running so all in Zimbawe can have basic needs and most important of all EMPLOYMENT for all who can contribute to their now non exist ailing economy.
      A major lesson can be learnt from them should our counrty go in the same stream of direction. No excuse, please, some of us are working our butts off to just survive down South.

    • http://gmail tirelo phuti

      hope they will go well with no bloodsheding

    • Jack Sparrow

      It’s both funny and sad that a supposedly reasonable and sensible columnist can gloss over the horror Mugabe has inflicted on the Zim people because he was about to lose power. The reasons for the brutal treatment of the Zim people by their own authorities are largely immaterial. It is simply wrong. At least by my standards if not Brad’s.

    • Brian B

      Constitutions, Bills of Rights, Manifestos , Charters etc mean little if they are not exercised.
      To somehow excuse all l the recent and current abuses by referring to the abuses of the past will not change the situation.

    • MrK

      ” The outcome, in my most humble opinion, is that Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC will be the next government of our northern neighbours … ”

      Why anyone would think that a party that has Matabaleland provinces at their heartland, when 80% of the population of Zimbabwe is Shona has a chance of coming to power without deception or manipulation is beyond me.

      This is not tribalism, just global political principle. Most people will not vote someone of a minority region/tribe/religion into power, because they are sure to hoard national resources for the development of their own part of the country. (Apartheid being only one case in point.)

      The MDC is a coalition between Rhodesian Front elements who want to see their huge colonial estates returned to them, the Mthakwazi people who want Southwestern Zimbabwe to break away from the state and become independent, and above all, De Beers, which wants to appropriate 20% of the world’s known diamond reserves to themselves instead of the Zimbabwean people. This is why the MDC put in their manifesto that the diamond mines uniquely will be nationalized, while everything else gets privatised. This is to accomodate a national monopoly for De Beers, just like Debswana and Nambdeb in Botswana and Namibia, respectively.

      To achieve this, they instigated economic sanctions in order to make the lives of the Zimbabwean people miserable, and then point the finger at President Mugabe, ‘Mismanagement By Mugabe’ (TM).

    • http://[email protected] williamjohnhowe

      Zim, do not pass that way, leaving Zambia I go to South Africa via Namibia, go bob give your people(Sheep) what they want, hell on earth, they deserve you.

    • bernpm

      “Any hope for Zimbabwe?”

      With the hindsight of knowing the results of the elections : the answer is NO, not in the near future!!

    • Mbonisi

      Zimbabwe’s problems are centred on the fact that 80% of the population is essentially tribalistic and happens to be Shona, Gukurahundi Mugabe’s tribe.

      This is not their fault, because they were manipulated by Mugabe in the 1970s and early 1980s in his efforts at defeating Joshua Nkomo. Mugabe deliberately emphasised the hsitory of the 1800 tribal warfares in order to secure Shona votes for him and his party and this has now become engrained in the psyche of the Shonas that they can no longer see Zim politics in any other way. Shonas people are not inherently tribalistic, and this is borne out by the wide support the gave to Joshua Nkomo in the 1950s and 1960s, until Robert Gukurahundi Mugabe (RG Mugabe) came onto the political scene and spoiled the party with his tribal politics.

      To this day, Mugabe has held onto power because of the confusion that exists in opposition that is usually driven by this anti-Ndebele/Mthwakazi politics. There is an unwritten law in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe that anyone from Matebeleland or any Zimbabwean in Matebeleland with South African ancestral roots should not aspire for political office as a leader – he or she can only do so under Shona political leadership. Should he/she even dare try, they will be labelled and rubbished as Ndebele tribalists and regionalists. This effectively renders their political ambitions still born in the eyes of the Shona majority.

      Unlike SA long forgot the Zulu tribal raids of King Shaka Zim is still…

    • Black Swan

      I am amazed by how people react to the issues of Land reform in ZImbabwe. I for one am Zimbabwean and leave outside the country (South Africa to be specific). Mine is not a story of fleeing away from home but a choice i took upon myself to study ( Doing my second Degree; of which the first was in Zimbabwe).

      However the issue that i want to raise is that ; people are often misled or should i say the media tends not to show the true state that took place.. Firstly, the” willing buyer Willing seller” system was meant to last for a period of 10year (i.e 1980- 1990), however the government saw that it wasnt feasible to do away with it when 1990 came along. It continued till 1997.

      Then came the Labor Party ( UK) into power toplling the Conservatives. iN 1998 tHE labor Party came to Zimbabwe for a conference at the Rainbow Towers. The conference brought out a shame to the people of Zimbabwe because the LP said that they would no longer be pumping out money for compansating the indegenous people of Zimbabwe for the land they lost. THAT IS WHEN EVERYTHING TURNED SOUR…..

      I will leave u with this simple analogy ::
      If one fails to pay mortgage owed to the Bank, what does the Bank do? THE BANK REPOSSESES the property without giving back the deposit….

      This is a mirrior of what happened in Zimbabwe, The British GVT failed to honour its end of the deal and as such Zimbabwe took back its Land……

    • Mbonisi

      @Black Swan
      We are not stupid, please stop trying to sanitise the land invasions – we all know the motives here and they are not all that innocent. It is of course true that people needed land, but it cannot be ignored that the Gukurahundi ZANU PF party also also abused the land issue for political purposes.

      1. Please explain the massive land invasions immediately after the Gukurahundis lost the 1999 referendum to the MDC?

      2. Please explain, the invasion and take over of land, owned by people who had government issued letters of no interest?

      3. Please explain the use of State vehicles (military) to move the land invaders and so-called war veterans from one farm to another?

      4. Please explain how a 20 or 25 year old can invade land under the banner of war veteran of a war that ended 33 years ago before he was even born? How can such a young child be a war veteran?

      5. Please explain cases of people who have lost land or business interests (e.g. Mutumwa Mawere, Strive Masiyiwa), the moment they differed with Gukurahundi ZANU PF?

      6. Please explain the multiple farm ownership by Gukurahundi ZANU PF people, if this was about resettling landless people? Are all Zimbabweans in need of land now resettled today?

      These Blair/labour party excuses are just that – excuses. Joshua Nkomo warned the Gukurahundis to address the land issue long back when Gukurahundi Mugabe was still the darling of the west and they did nothing. This is all about political survival!!

    • MrK

      ” In any event, the British withdrew financial support in 1997 arguing the Mugabe was giving land to cronies. ”

      Actually, they were arguing that because Britian had a new government, they no longer felt any obligation to pay for the Willing Seller/Willing Buyer land reform program.

      That is how the Fast Track program came about in it’s stead.

      To quote Claire Short, in her letter in November 1997, to Minister of Lands Kumbirai Kangai:

      ” I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know were colonised not colonisers. ”,9069,1015120,00.html

      From Heidi Holland’s “Dinner With Mugabe”, Clare Short’s adviser Soni Rajan:

      ” “It was absolutely clear from the attitude of (Clare Short’s) staff towards his recommendations that Labour’s strategy was to accelerate Mugabe’s unpopularity by failing to provide him with funding for land redistribution…They thought that if they didn’t give him money for land reform his people in the rural areas would start to turn against him. That was their position. They wanted him out, and they were going to do whatever they could to hasten his demise.” [24] “

    • MrK

      So the question is, why did the New Labour government of Tony Blair want to get President Mugabe out of office in 1997, before the fast track land reform program, although after the Zimbabwean government’s ending of the World Bank’s ESAP structural adjustment program in 1996.

      Remember that in 1994, only 3 years earlier, President Mugabe had received an honorary knighthood, honorary Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Bath.

      So what changed between 1994 and 1997?

      Tony Blair, the hangman for the World Bank and IMF.

    • Skerminkel

      By your reasoning then the Zanu-PF solution is better. Let everyone suffer in squalor rather, apart from those connected to Mugabe?

    • Skerminkel

      So the Zimbabwean people are not able to look after themselves? Do they rely on the British to lead and fund them? Losing a few million pounds to be paid by the British and then giving up totally is akin to having a flat tyre on your car and sending it off to the scrap heap.