The Tobacco Auction Floors in Harare on May 7 2009
Quite odd, this.
Coming hard on the heels of the MDC-PF government declaring that farms protected by Bilateral Investments Protection Agreements (BIPAs) are not immune to being seized by the government of Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, Morgan Tsvangirai has dealt yet another blow to the hopes of Zimbabwe's white farmers.
The Prime Minister of Zimbabwe was in Bindura yesterday for what the state newspapers are calling a "Stakeholders Conference".
(An awful lot of these are being held with nothing to show for them, by the way."
Anyway, the Prime Minister is quoted as saying, "There is no going back on land reform," by the Herald.
His actually words were, "No one is going to reverse Land Reform. Isu tiri kuti rimai tidye tese tese."
No mention of the Land Audit, one of the most burning issues of Zimbabwean elections since at least 2002. It was rightly demanded by the opposition because many good-for-nothings had hoarded farms in the hope that they would get title deeds and then sell those farms right back to their former owners or go into 50-50 partnerships where they shared the profits but not the capital costs.
It was well planned...
In the interim, they do no farming at all, using farmhouses as brothels and weekend retreats.
Now, however, this is territory the Prime Minister fears to tread.
In fact, in the last couple of weeks, ZANU PF parliamentarians and ministers have written in the state media saying they are going to push for a land audit. One of them was very clear that the continued refusal of ZANU PF to entertain an audit would be its undoing, since it would be seen as wanting to hide something.
To win the next election, he said, ZANU PF must now be at the forefront of calling for the Land Audit that the Prime Minister now fears to press home. In case he treads on the toes of the military brass, who have taken this crusade to be theirs, a protection of what they fought for...
So ZANU PF does not want to appear to hiding anything....
But in reality they most certainly are. Most, if not all, multiple-farm owners are ZANU PF lackeys and cronies. Some are ministers, others soldiers and policemen.
Western countries, if we abandon beating about the Bush, primarily refer to property rights when they talk of the rule of law. Specifically, they lecture Zimbabwe on this in order to get it to pay compensation for the private assets (farms) that it took from their owners.
This is really not a racist or supremacist stance, when you look at it within the context of the 21st century.
FDI - Foreign Direct Investment, has been the proven engine for the growth of any economy. But foreign investors will never come into Zimbabwe if the government decides on a whim that it is going to "liberate" certain farms or companies and redistribute them without paying"a cent"in compensation for them, as Mugabe once famously declared.
FDI will dry up, as it has in Zimbabwe. No matter how much gold or uranium or platinum you have, no one except the riff-raff, shady characters of the international business underworld will want to have anything to do with your country.
By endorsing this Marxist approach to private property, the Prime Minister is actually doing more harm to the future of this country than he realises.
He should stop skirting the issue and start engaging the world about the issue of the Land dispute. Most white farmers are not against the process, but they simply want compensation for their toil to date.
Mugabe says they must go and get it from Britain, who stole the land in the first place and parceled it out to people who later claimed ownership to the stolen property and sold it on to unsuspecting people.
I sincerely believe that the true test of the statesmanship of the Prime Minister will be whether he can bridge this divide, whether he can get Mugabe and the British to meet halfway, wherever that halfway is.
Right now, though, he is ignoring the festering sore on the neck of Zimbabwe, instead prescribing painkillers for the headache caused our nation by the toxins in this sore.
Mugabe is already in the land of the hopeless.
I hope the Prime Minister is not planning to join him there.