Position:Letter to the Editor

Is Mugabe right?

I was interested to read the article in your magazine saying that Mugabe was right. I understand that the author wrote this after a personal visit to Zimbabwe and that he has some knowledge of the situation first hand. Even so, I found his conclusions astonishing.

Just consider the following plain simple facts:

  1. At independence we had 23,000 commercial farmers, of which 6,000 were white. They farmed 16 million hectares of land, employed 350,000 workers and generated 50% of all exports, 65% of all food and 60% of all industrial activity was predicated on farm activity.

  2. After 18 years of independence, we had 23,000 commercial farmers -- 4,000 were white, they farmed 12 million hectares and still dominated the economy -- their percentage contribution to GDP had fallen due to growth in other sectors but their percentage contribution to agricultural activity remained the same.

    The great difference was that in the 18 years, 89% of the white-owned commercial farms had changed hands -- some 2,000 had sold to government or to new black farmers and the great majority of those that remained on the land (83%) had purchased their farms from their 1980 owners -- with government approval at free market prices.

  3. In 1990, foreign donors, including Britain, stopped funding for the land reform process (after funding the purchase of 3.5 million hectares of land), because of the 2,000 farms purchased using donor funds, 800 properties were handed over to Zanu-PF cronies on long term (up to 99 year) leases. The donors said that until the programme was put back onto a proper footing, they would not provide further funding.

  4. In 1998, the UNDP intervened and a conference of all stakeholders was held at which a land reform programme was agreed by all parties. For the next two years, the stare made no move to implement this agreed programme.

  5. Instead, in 2000, after the loss of the referendum vote and the near loss of the parliamentary elections, Mugabe launched the so-called "fast track land reform programme. At first this was stated to have limited objectives -- 5 million hectares of land and all farmers to be allowed one farm.

  6. By the end of 2002, the state had dispossessed 3,400 white farmers of their land and other assets, irrespective of their legal rights under the constitution or other laws, and irrespective of their position as single farm owners who had bought their farms with the agreement of the Mugabe government after 1980.

  7. In flagrant violation of the agreement with the UNDP in 1998 and at Abuja in 2001, the state has allocated the majority of these properties to its own cronies and others (Libya has taken over 17 farms in the north). Many in the Zanu-PF leadership are claiming more than one farm -- as many as seven in one case.

  8. We estimate that US$6 billion in private assets has been stolen from their rightful owners in this exercise, and in addition, it has triggered a collapse of the economy. To this end you should note that GDP has fallen by 25% in three years, exports by two-thirds and employment by a third. Industrial production has fallen by 40%. All sectors of the economy are expected to decline still further in 2003.9. In the food sector, we remain with 300 white-owned and...

To continue reading