In­de­pen­dence without land use­less

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/national News - Jo­ram Ny­athi Spec­trum

And is it con­ceiv­able that the Indi­geni­sa­tion Act can be re­pealed without deal­ing a mor­tal blow to the en­tire land re­form project, which by ev­ery def­i­ni­tion is at the heart of the indi­geni­sa­tion of the econ­omy?

There is no doubt ev­ery econ­omy re­quires for­eign in­vestors. But when you re­verse the indi­geni­sa­tion process to al­low for­eign in­vestors to do as they please, who then owns such an econ­omy? You open your­self to day­light black­mail. You must live ev­ery day in fear be­cause the mo­ment you talk about a law to pro­tect your na­tional in­ter­ests, you are threat­ened with in­vestor flight, and you nei­ther own nor con­trol the econ­omy or nat­u­ral re­sources. Ev­ery­thing is surrendered to the whims of for­eign in­vestors!

That’s Zim­babwe. Across the globe con­trol of re­sources is a burn­ing issue. We can start nearer to home in South Africa where blacks seem to be men­tally de­colonis­ing faster than Zim­bab­weans who have been nom­i­nally independent since 1980 but are not ready to own the econ­omy.

A rel­a­tively new Pan-African­ist po­lit­i­cal party call­ing it­self Black First Land First (BLF) is de­scribed in the me­dia as “ob­scure”. But not so the cause it is cham­pi­oning in a country where the rul­ing African Na­tional Congress (ANC) is seen as too cau­tious to ad­dress peo­ple’s hunger for land.

Founded in 2015, and led by former ANC mem­ber Andile Mngxi­tama, the BLF has raised the stakes over land own­er­ship in South Africa even as Ox­fam In­ter­na­tional warns that ac­cess to land and its nat­u­ral en­dow­ments has be­come a global prob­lem caused by mass dis­place­ments and killings of the poor — those most in need of agri­cul­tural and pas­toral lands — by greedy Western cor­po­ra­tions and pri­vate spec­u­la­tors.

In a found­ing doc­u­ment pub­lished by the City Press in Au­gust last year, Mngxi­tama ar­gues that since ma­jor­ity rule in 1994, South Africa has spent a stag­ger­ing R50 bil­lion to buy just 8 per­cent of farm­land from whites. About one mil­lion blacks have been dis­placed from their land in the same pe­riod. He is bit­ter that so much money be­long­ing to South Africa’s poor is be­ing spent buy­ing back what was “stolen” from them.

He laments that blacks in South Africa have been be­trayed by the ANC gov­ern­ment, and come last in nearly ev­ery­thing from land own­er­ship to ed­u­ca­tion and job op­por­tu­ni­ties, the lat­ter be­cause they were de­nied qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion un­der apartheid rule.

He is in­spired in his ide­o­log­i­cal lean­ing by Mar­tinique-born French rev­o­lu­tion­ary in­tel­lec­tual, Frantz Fanon, who de­clared in the 1950s; “For a colonised peo­ple, the most es­sen­tial value, be­cause it’s the most con­crete, is first and fore­most the land: the land which will bring them bread and, above all, dig­nity.”

Mngxi­tama is dis­ap­pointed with Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers leader Julius Malema whom he says has now com­pro­mised af­ter he re­cently told stu­dents at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity only “un­pro­duc­tive land” should be ap­pro­pri­ated. In the past he threat­ened to seize banks, mines and farms without com­pen­sa­tion should his party come into power.

The BLF doesn’t be­lieve votes will give peo­ple back their land ei­ther, pre­fer­ring rather the Robert Mu­gabe way, in rhetoric set to rat­tle white cap­i­tal that’s al­ready un­nerved by a volatile rand cur­rency in Man­dela’s Rain­bow na­tion.

Show­ing his frus­tra­tion with the slow pace of land re­dis­tri­bu­tion un­der the ANC, Mngxi­tama re­port­edly told his sup­port­ers re­cently; “Land doesn’t come through vot­ing. Those who say vote for us and we will give you your land are ly­ing to you. If you want land, you take it. You take the land. For­ward with Mu­gabe.”

Zim­babwe launched the land re­form pro­gramme in 2000 against re­sis­tance from white farm­ers. So far nearly 300 000 peo­ple have ben­e­fited. How­ever, the suc­cess of the pro­gramme has been com­pro­mised by a plethora of prob­lems, from sanc­tions im­posed on the country as pun­ish­ment for the land re­form, to lack of tech­ni­cal skills, cor­rup­tion, in­ad­e­quate fund­ing and more fre­quent drought con­di­tions in the whole Sadc re­gion due to cli­mate change. (In­ci­den­tally, although de­trac­tors de­scribe the pro­gramme as a dis­as­trous fail­ure, Zim­babwe doesn’t seem to fea­ture in the 2016 an­nual Global Hunger In­dex re­leased this week of 118 coun­tries ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ex­treme hunger, a ma­jor­ity of whom are in Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa. In­stead we are rep­re­sented by Zam­bia, Chad and CAR where nearly half the pop­u­la­tion is said to be un­der­nour­ished. The re­search was con­ducted by Wash­ing­ton-based In­ter­na­tional Food Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute, not by Zanu-PF.)

Mngxi­tama went on: “We are go­ing to fol­low the Pres­i­dent of Zim­babwe. We take the land by force. We are not go­ing to buy this land be­cause it was stolen from us. The ANC is scared of white peo­ple.”

Th­ese views should find pur­chase among stu­dents cur­rently burn­ing books and de­mand­ing gen­uinely African, free ed­u­ca­tion in South Africa, be­cause their dis­pos­sessed and un­e­d­u­cated par­ents can’t af­ford what has be­come a pre­serve of the elite and whites. (A sting­ing irony is that those who want Pres­i­dent Zuma ousted might get their wish, which could cre­ate a lead­er­ship vac­uum and room for a real rev­o­lu­tion in SA, un­less those in charge are pre­pared to do a shame worse than Marikana.)

De­mand for land is not ec­cen­tri­cism pe­cu­liar to South Africa and Zim­babwe. Namib­ians are get­ting more vo­cif­er­ous in ag­i­tat­ing for a more rad­i­cal land pol­icy and an end to eco­nomic marginal­i­sa­tion, just as thou­sands of peas­ants are be­ing dis­placed in Mozam­bique by “in­vestors” ex­plor­ing for oil.

But it is find­ings by Ox­fam In­ter­na­tional which are alarm­ing. In a re­port ti­tled Cus­to­di­ans of the Land: De­fend­ers of our Fu­ture, to be re­leased next month, Ox­fam, a hu­man­i­tar­ian aid agency, ex­poses des­per­ate strug­gles for land in Latin Amer­ica, Asia and Africa by the poor against a scram­ble by Western cor­po­ra­tions and su­per-rich in­di­vid­u­als for land to meet ris­ing de­mand for food and bio­fu­els or min­eral re­sources back home.

The re­port ac­cuses treach­er­ous gov­ern­ments of con­niv­ing with for­eign land preda­tors to sign deals for the takeover of com­mu­nal land without con­sult­ing the poor who need it the most, such as farm­ers and pas­toral­ists.

“Gov­ern­ments and pow­er­ful busi­ness in­ter­ests are marginal­is­ing up to 2,5 bil­lion women and men from their lands,” says Ox­fam, a con­fed­er­a­tion of 18 or­gan­i­sa­tions op­er­at­ing in 90 coun­tries to erad­i­cate poverty.

“It is (marginal­i­sa­tion) the sin­gle big­gest at­tack in the world to­day on peo­ple’s iden­tity, rights, liveli­hoods, and se­cu­rity, as well as our en­vi­ron­ment,” it warns, adding; “A di­verse campaign of ter­ror and dis­place­ment is tak­ing place in many coun­tries, driven by greed and im­punity. Peo­ple are be­ing beaten, forcibly evicted, in­tim­i­dated, dis­en­fran­chised, crim­i­nalised, tricked, dis­crim­i­nated against and de­nied their rights.”

To some ex­tent, Zim­babwe is a step ahead of most of the coun­tries tar­geted for the new scram­ble for Africa. While much of the com­mu­nal land could be said to be un­doc­u­mented, the land re­form means it can­not easily be sold com­mer­cially to big busi­ness and spec­u­la­tors be­cause it re­mains state land. More im­por­tant, most of the peo­ple re­set­tled since 2000 have been is­sued with 99-year leases on state land, mean­ing short of be­ing “tricked” in deals be­tween “weak and piti­less gov­ern­ments” and cor­po­ra­tions, they are pro­tected by the law.

The rise of Black First Land First in South Africa re­minds us that many colo­nial peo­ples re­alise it is not yet Uhuru in Africa without restora­tion of land to the black ma­jor­ity. Without it there can be no “dig­nity”, nor any­thing “con­crete” to sig­nify true in­de­pen­dence.

The blither­ing id­iots who claim I am now a “stri­dent sup­porter” of Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe miss the point. There can be a chasm of a dif­fer­ence be­tween an in­di­vid­ual’s per­sonal short­com­ings and cru­sad­ing for a uni­ver­sal cause. Land own­er­ship and the need for black eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment go far be­yond Mu­gabe’s mor­tal be­ing. Only in­cur­able im­be­ciles have tal­ents enough to con­flate the two.

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe

Andile Mngxi­tama

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.