Indigenous Plunder

Rejoice Ngwenya on XO this Wednesday

Converts of African agrarian reform and those on both sides of the political divide in Zimbabwewill find my critique unsavoury to the ideological palate. Unpopularity is unpleasant, but when it ratchets up truth, justice and common sense, it becomes an invaluable asset.African National Congress hardliners and Movement for Democratic Change ‘moderates’ are vague on the punishment to be meted on plunderers of private property in Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.In 2000, he unleashed an orgy of unprecedented violence on white Zimbabwean citizens to prop up his dissipating political fortunes. To date, all but 400 commercial farmers remain on their properties, albeit bruised, frightened and permanently insecure.

The ANC has been conspicuous by its silence on this plunder, purportedly keeping an eye open in anticipation of what hardliners term a bomb waiting to explode in their agrarian backyard. Buoyed by the illusion of Zimbabwe’s ‘land reform’, Julius Malema has exploited this policy blackout, triggering his own version of ‘land discourse’ that has left hundreds of white South African farmers dead. More level-headed politicians – particularly in Helen Zille’s Democratic Alliance [DA], have lacerated Jacob Zuma for failing to reign in on Malema’s provocative racist bigotry, reminding South Africans that Zimbabwe’s crumbling fortunes are traceable only to widespread property violations.On his part, Mugabe has acknowledged that farm invasions have failed to ‘empower’ black Zimbabweans. He has turned his political gold diggers on multinational corporations in what minister Saviour Kasukuwere terms ‘indigenisation of trade and industry’.

And all of this is taking place against a backdrop of a so-called ‘new era of political reforms’ in Zimbabwe, now given traction by Zuma’s insistence that Mugabe must endeavour to fulfil all terms of the Global Political Agreement signed 15 September 2008. Political analysts – progressive ones at that – are united in that the trajectory of political transformation is fast moving towards permanently displacing Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF from the seat of national governance. Once the new ‘people driven’ constitution is in place, a raft of SADC-approved electoral, media and security sector reforms will ensure that free and fair elections in 2012-13 relegate ZANU-PF to a distant minority. In this case, both Morgan Tsvangirayi and Welshman Ncube’s MDC will be free to reign! It is in this context that I insist for Zimbabwe to be fully accepted in the fold of the league of free nations, MDC, once in full control of political power, must restore the respect for property rights in the country. By this, I mean that all land that was illegally and unfairly expropriated from the 4000 white commercial farmers; all companies and mines ‘legally’ snatched from citizens under the nefarious and mischievous ‘land reform’ and ‘indigenisation’ Acts respectively must be unconditionally returned to these innocent citizens. Irrevocability and irreversibility of illiberal legislation is as fallacious as it is idiotic.

I say this without so much as a tinge of shame being convinced that though Ncube and Tsvangirayi are not ‘liberal’ in the classic context of the word, they are true ‘democrats’.The civilised world has stood by them, SADC campaigned in their corner and Zimbabweans will again vote that they bring sanity to our once beautiful and sophisticated country. Besides, there is empirical evidence elsewhere in the world that the Maoris, Aborigines, Aztec Indians, Apache Indians, Amazon tribes and the Khoisan of Southern Africaare now recognised as legitimate nationals of their respective countries.According to Wikipedia, “… the Amazon River Basin had a population estimated at having up to a five million people and perhaps more than five thousand Amazon tribes. However afterwards, the Amazonia experienced 500 years of violence, exploitation, and disease that wiped out most of the original Amazon tribes…” The good news is that both South and North American governments are bank rolling efforts by citizens to restore the dignity of these indigenous peoples. Vast swathes of land in North Americaand Australiahave been set aside for ‘aboriginals’. This is a true mark of democratic transformation. White commercial farmers of Zimbabwe and South Africamay have a ‘distant’ history of violent land expropriation, but this generation is one that has participated in our development. Multinational corporations and ‘foreign owned’ companies are integral in creating jobs for us ‘indigenous’ Southern Africans. We have worked with them to design some of the most sophisticated infrastructure on the continent, and for Zimbabwe, even being a ‘bread basket’ for Africa.

My appeal to the new ‘democratic’ MDCs government of 2012 and beyond is that the respect of property rights be an extension of modern day civilisation. The white citizens of Zimbabwe are part of our history, our present and our future. We can pay homage to humanity by returning their farms and companies.

XO2is a new e-discussion forum for sharing liberal opinion & life-changing ideas on free markets, effective democracy, property rights, good governance, human, economic and political rights. Rejoice Ngwenya is President of COMALISO, a think tank based in Harare.