Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Study Documents Zimbabwe's Land Redistribution Sucesses

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published Dec 5, 2010 10:08 PM

A new study on Zimbabwe’s last decade of land redistribution revealed that millions of Africans have made significant gains in agricultural production and income generation in this former British settler colony. Zimbabwe won its independence in 1980.

Contrary to repeated claims by displaced white landowners, and British and U.S. imperialists and their allies, an objective review and analysis of the removal of 4,000 settlers and the relocation of Africans on these commercial farms illustrate the tremendous strides made since 2000.

Ian Scoones, a professorial fellow at the British Institute for Development Studies, conducted the study entitled “Zimbabwe’s Land Reform: Myths and Realities.” Scoones examined the land reform process in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe, located in the central south and east of the southern African nation.

Scoones based his research on the actual conditions in Zimbabwe. He tracked the entire process of what the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front calls the Third Chimurenga (liberation struggle). This struggle was precipitated by the British and the U.S.’s failure to provide resources to buy out white-settler farmers, who controlled most of the arable land inside the country even after two decades of national independence.

In 2000 legislation was passed by ZANU-PF under the leadership of liberation movement leader President Robert Mugabe, stripping nearly 20 million acres of land from European-origin commercial farmers who held both Zimbabwean and British citizenship. Tens of thousands of revolutionary war veterans led people onto the farms. They effectively seized control in the region’s most advanced land redistribution process during the post-independence era.

Leading up to and after the land seizures in Zimbabwe, the Western imperialist states embarked upon a massive effort aimed at regime-change in the country. With the overt assistance of the white settler-farmers and their supporters in Britain and the United States, the so-called Movement for Democratic Change was founded.

The imperialist states imposed sanctions and launched a sophisticated, well-funded destabilization program against Zimbabwe. Nearly all Western news reports aimed to undermine Zimbabwe’s land redistribution. They blamed the ZANU-PF leadership for the economic hardships imposed by sanctions and withdrawal of credit.

Nonetheless, Prof. Scoones’ study proves that imperialists and their allies inside Zimbabwe totally fabricated their critical allegations. Not only did millions of Zimbabweans gain access to land stolen from them since the late 19th century, but they increased food production and equalized income distribution.

What Scoones’ study of 400 families “found was not what we expected. It contradicted the overwhelmingly negative images of land reform presented in the media, and indeed in much academic and policy commentary. Problems, failures and abuses were identified for sure, but the overarching story was much more positive: the realities on the ground did not match the myths so often perpetuated in wider debate.” (The Zimbabwean, Oct. 21)

One key element of the land redistribution process was the breaking up of many but not all of the large-scale commercial farms controlled by the white-settlers. Scoones notes, “Overall there has been a significant shift to many more, smaller-scale farms focusing on mixed farming, often with low levels of capitalization.”

The new resettlements in Masvingo province have “resulted in a very different farming sector, but one that is not without considerable entrepreneurial dynamism and productive potential,” Scoones continues.

This report also finds that the collapse of the white export-oriented commercial farming sector brought declines in production within the agricultural industries that dominated during the colonial and post-independence period. For example, between 2001, the year after the land seizures, and 2009, wheat, tobacco, coffee, tea and beef production suffered.

However, as Scoones points out, “Other crops and markets have weathered the storm and some have boomed,” including small grains, dry beans and cotton.

Scoones continues, “The agricultural sector has certainly been transformed, and there are major problems in certain areas, but it certainly has not collapsed.”

Imperialists continue sanctions

Despite these gains and the formation of a coalition government in 2008 between the ZANU-PF party and two MDC opposition factions, the British, U.S. and EU states have continued economic sanctions against the country as well as their propaganda aimed at regime-change. Even under the Obama administration, the U.S. has extended the sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year, as well as making policy statements aimed at destabilizing the government.

In a Nov. 19 interview in the state-owned Zimbabwe Herald, African-American religious leader Archbishop George Augustus Stallings announced that he would launch a campaign inside the U.S. to mobilize the clergy to pressure the Obama administration to lift sanctions against the ZANU-PF officials within the government. Stallings said that he had written a letter to President Mugabe pledging to increase his involvement “in dealing with the real issues at hand, not the rhetoric that serves as a distraction therefore hindering progress.”

Stallings pointed out in the interview, “If they could enslave and colonize us in the name of Jesus Christ, then trying to force a regime-change in Zimbabwe under the guise of freeing people from an evil dictator is a small drop in the bucket. If Nelson Mandela only just recently had his name removed from the U.S. government’s list of terrorists, then President Mugabe, the engineer of Africa’s boldest land and mining reclamation programs, can forget it.”

ZANU-PF recently announced that the party is preparing for national elections in 2011 after a new constitution is ratified. Consequently, the coalition government with the MDC factions will be dissolved, preparing the way for the reemergence of full political control by ZANU-PF. That party fought for national liberation during the 1960s and 1970s and has maintained power since independence in 1980.
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