Mujuru must give up Ruzambo Farm
FORMER Vice-President Joice Mujuru spoke last week at the Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs in London, Britain. Out of her depth as ever she, on Thursday, delivered a pedestrian speech at the think tank, also known as Chatham House, reiterating her criticisms of the indigenisation drive and pledging to review the land redistribution programme. She has spoken against these two fundamental national programmes before, thus her repeated attacks on them, in London at a Britishhosted event, was widely expected.
However, our surprise was her theatrics the previous day when she met a man who used to occupy Ruzambo Farm before the Mujurus were allocated the Beatrice property during the land reform and redistribution programme.
Clearly seeking to play the “good girl,” and setting herself apart from her former party, Zanu-PF and its Government, Dr Mujuru promised to personally pay compensation to Mr Guy Watson Smith for the farm. We have been watching her since March 1 when she launched her party and it is our considered view that she is trying too hard to please the West. Unfortunately for her, she appears to have dug herself into a hole on Wednesday, a hole from which she will be unable to lift herself out.
Dr Mujuru must know that any politics in Zimbabwe that treats the land reform and redistribution programme as cheaply as she did in London is politics of failure. The commitment she made must rank as her biggest blunder since she joined opposition politics six months ago. To us, the image of her sitting there with Mr Smith and his son and shaking hands with them later on is as politically suicidal as that of MDC-T leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, smiling gleefully as white farmers signed cheques to fund his party in the early 2000s.
She might have problems with the execution of the land reform programme but for someone who personally went to war, fighting to liberate this land, to be now apologetic about benefiting from that revolutionary exercise is gross hypocrisy. We have no doubt that many Zimbabweans will not take her seriously for that. At the same time we really wonder if even her interlocutors Mr Smith and his son actually left that meeting feeling that they had not been taken for a ride by a shameless hypocrite.
If Dr Mujuru is really committed to compensating Mr Smith, she should have done so by now. Equally important, if she really thinks that she benefited unjustly from the land reform process, why does she not give up the farm immediately, so that those who are not apologetic about indigenous ownership of land take it over?
With respect, Dr Mujuru lacks the profundity of understanding needed at that level and she played to the gallery on Wednesday. In her mind, she thinks that pledging to personally compensate Mr Smith endears her to white former farmers and their Western kith and kin. She also thinks by speaking the way she did, she is communicating an entirely new message to the former farmers. Yes, it is new in the sense that she promised to compensate the former occupant from her own pocket, but not in the broader sense.
Zanu-PF as a party and its Government have always stressed their commitment to compensating white former farmers. The constitution also commits to that, but makes it clear that Zimbabwe will only compensate whites for improvements they made on the land, not for the land itself. The responsibility to pay compensation for the land rests with the British government which oversaw the dispossession of indigenous people of their land from 1890 to 1980.
While she committed to personally compensate a white former farmer now resident in faraway France, Dr Mujuru has not done the same with regards to Mr Tawanda Nyambirai, an indigenous Zimbabwean citizen whose properties she and her late husband seized in contravention of the constitution that says indigenous-owned farms cannot be acquired for resettlement.
Dr Mujuru and her husband, General Solomon Mujuru, used their offices to grab three farms Kopje Alleen, The Beach and Rusfontein from Mr Nyambirai in 2002. Although he was granted a provisional order by the High Court on February 10, 2002, to reclaim his land he failed to serve the then powerful Mujurus with the order as his lawyers were intimidated and chased away together with police details from Featherstone Police Station where he had sought assistance.
Because Mr Nyambirai is black, Dr Mujuru is implying, his property can be taken with no regrets. Mr Smith’s, a white person, cannot be taken and if it is, the new owner must feel bad about it.
Mr Nyambirai said he found it strange that Dr Mujuru would prefer to compensate white farmers instead of indigenous people that were unlawfully dispossessed of land by her late husband.
“I am not against the principle of compensation because it is provided for in the Constitution. What I find strange is that they took farms belonging to black people like me but find it prudent to compensate a white farmer whom they took land from. To me that is insincere on her part,” he said.
“She is being insincere. For someone who participated in taking farms from whites and now suddenly wants to pretend to be clean and offer compensation when she deprived black people by unlawfully taking their farms and giving them to her relatives. That’s hypocritical. I am not a politician and would not want to discuss the politics around it. But as someone who suffered at the hands of the late General who took my farms and gave them to his relatives, I find it awkward. The question that arises is why now when she no longer wields the power that she had when she took land from those people including myself.”