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Home | ZimCrisis#74 -- Editorial from "The Farmer"

Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2000 14:12:58 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#74 -- Editorial from "The Farmer"
Cc: "African press":;, "Foreign press":;

Hi everyone,

This editorial is dated June 26th, but I just received it today.


The Farmer, 26 June 2000 -- The time for justice

No period in Zimbabwe's turbulent history can have been quite as bizarre, quite as misguided, quite as horrific as the last four months. Nor can any period have been quite as stupid. That is the truth and every Zimbabwean knows it's the truth. There's absolutely nothing to be gained by mincing words - so stupid it is and stupid it will be until the country returns to normality.

But the memories won't go away - or they'd better not. Over 30 people murdered, many of them on Zimbabwe's farms. Who knows how many women and, worse still, young girls, raped. And many of them were on Zimbabwe's farms, too. Over 500 houses torched, razed to the ground and their owners left with nothing to show for their entire lives. And yes, many of those were on farms as well. Then there are over 6,000 people assaulted and tortured and the whole world knows that the beatings began on the farms and are still happening there.

For what?

Not for justice, not for political pluralism, not for a future as the stable and prosperous multi-cultured nation that 12 million Zimbabweans all want.

No, all this was done under the auspices of the oldest and most heinous political tactic of all: divide and rule. Tell ethnic minorities they do not belong, divide the farming community on itself, and then divide it from the rest of the business community. Preach xenophobia: all foreigners are bent on destroying Zimbabwe; all foreigners are wrong, the entire world is wrong - but Zimbabwe is right. Well, no, Zimbabwe's ruling elite is right. All that's on a human level. Disgusting and wrong and very, very visible. And it has made Zimbabwe's president a hate figure, not just at home but around the world.

Zimbabweans are embarrassed by their leader - even before they start talking about the economic ruination of what promised to be, if not stinking rich, at least a profitable little place in the middle of Africa.

There is no fuel in Zimbabwe, so people queue for the commodity for hours on end. Food is running low in the supermarkets because there isn't the foreign currency to buy the packaging. Zimbabwe is in a horrible mess.

But never mind, it's not Zimbabwe's fault and it's certainly not Mr Mugabe's fault. The fuel crisis has been blamed successively on farmers, garages, oil companies and now British pirates.

The foreign currency crisis has been blamed on farmers, banks and businesses. The unrest has been blamed on the opposition, no doubt intent on killing its own members. And then crises have been invented - land being just one of them.

At no time has Zanu-PF, still less Robert Mugabe, accepted blame for rampant corruption, gross profligacy with foreign exchange, an astoundingly inept and venal fuel procurement organisation. And at no time has Zanu-PF or Mr Mugabe accepted responsibility for the terror they have let loose on the country.

Instead they have continued to blame, often with stupefying absurdity, anyone and anything they can find to blame. In real life it's called finding scapegoats for your own ineptness. In real life it is also a recipe for disaster. Mr Mugabe's plan to acquire all of Zimbabwe's farms threatens to derail Zimbabwe forever.

Not content with that, he now says he'll take the mines as well. Oh wonderful. That's just the sort of responsible, ethical and oh so pragmatic electioneering all Zimbabweans wanted to hear. In a short period of time, all white Zimbabweans (especially farmers) have been demoted to foreign status and now all foreign owners of mines have been demoted to, well, nothingness. They will simply cease to exist.

Kenneth Kaunda attempted a similar experiment, culminating with the nationalisation of all Zambian land in 1974. All of Africa knows that it was a dismal failure and that Zambia still hasn't recovered from the aftershock. Never mind, Zanu-PF believes that it has something to offer that Dr Kaunda lacked. No doubt 12 million Zimbabweans would love to know what this "something" is, but so far they remain in the dark. Quite the reverse, they know that Kaunda, despite all his faults, was a gentleman who didn't rampage around his country burning people's houses to the ground.

Pity, then, the poor MDC supporter tortured by State sponsored thugs. He'd have been better off in Zambia. Look at his face, say his party bosses, and he seems fine. But he can't stand comfortably, he can't sit comfortably and he certainly can't lie down comfortably. The reason, allege the MDC, is that every single inch of his body was scorched with burning plastic - even his genitals. Only his face was spared. Or the MDC candidate in Kwekwe whom thugs covered in petrol and, but for their own inefficiency (they also doused the matchbox) and his bravery (he grabbed a Zanu-PF thug and refused to let go), was to be made into a human torch in the interest of political re-education.

This is a sorry state to be in for any country. Zimbabweans aren't accustomed to this sort of thing, except in a disinterested "it couldn't happen to us" sort of way when they watch images of Sierra Leone or the Balkans on their TV sets.

But now it's not just on their doorsteps. The terror has crossed the threshold and it is malevolently evil. Farmers have known it for longer, but the entire country has now been affected. Hopefully reason and justice will prevail this weekend - or when the counting is finished. Hopefully the terror will end.

And hopefully the idiotic rhetoric, the absurd threats, the statements that are nothing short of promises to destroy an already ailing economy will come to an abrupt end.

Because if they don't, the last person to leave won't have to switch off the light - he won't be able to find one that's working.

Brian Latham
Editor - The Farmer
Incorporating Countryside News

P O Box WGT 160
Westgate, Harare

Tel: +263 4 309800
Fax: +263 4 309860
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Cell: +263 91 236546
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