Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
There are a number of issues that have recently caught my eye regarding the land question in Zimbabwe. The first is the announcement by Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Douglas Mombeshora who, as reported by this paper yesterday, said that there are no more farms to be allocated to people wishing to claim a piece of farmland.
We are told that after redistributing 14 million hectares, what is left are some 900 000ha which are now to be kept as a strategic reserve.
This announcement is not a huge surprise: all good things come to an end.
What is now left is for the audit to confirm the global picture of land reform in Zimbabwe.
The audit will be an important tool for policy reckoning as for the telling of a great historical endeavour in Zimbabwe and in Africa.
So, we all look forward to it.
This brings up a second interesting aspect; with many people realising that the good thing that land reform is coming to an end, there are frenzied attempts to make last-ditch efforts to have a slice of the cake before the party is over.
Hence, the thousands upon thousands of people that have made it onto waiting lists at a very importune time where demand is far outstripping supply.
The interesting development in this is the realisation by Zimbabweans of the economic value of land (and a matter of social good, too) to which they were blinded because of naivety, political immaturity and perhaps simple procrastination.
But land is a finite resource, we may actually have to learn this so rudely.
This fact offers a case for what we propose as the end of the “redistributive phase” of the land reform programme.
The redistributive phase has been an overwhelming success as figures indicate that up to 300 000 black families have benefited from a resource that was almost exclusive to about 5 000 white farmers.
The issue of land has always been about race since white people came and dispossessed, nay, robbed black people of their land, claiming vast tracts for their plundering pleasure.
When Zimbabwe reclaimed the land effectively from Independence and decisively from 2000, the issue was always coloured by race.
This explains why Western countries, primarily Britain and its Commonwealth and their cousin in North America, were so miffed that they immediately set to punish Zimbabwe and seeking an end to the rule of President Mugabe.
If we acknowledge that the land issue is a race, historical, social and economic – even an emotional one – it has to be remarked that there is nothing to be sorry about land reform, and everything to celebrate especially this end of the redistributive phase that should now be succeeded by the “production phase”.
Is it not ironic then that given the foregoing, a Zimbabwean doctor based in Britain is now being persecuted for acquiring a farm back home?
The name of the doctor is Sylvester Nyatsuro.
From reports, he, like any other citizen, applied for land and was duly awarded a farm, which happened to be formerly held by one Philip Rankin and his wife.
Recently, Rankin, who has been refusing to vacate the property, was duly evicted as there are court orders to that effect.
But not without a lot of noise and dust kicking, of course, with a lot of sympathy in the British media and victimisation of Dr Nyatsuro.
The most disheartening part is that Zimbabweans in the UK have been on the forefront of attacking Dr Nyatsuro, and seeking to destroy his business and probably cause a revocation of his UK citizenship.
Demonstrations have been held and an online petition to Prime Minister David Cameron has been initiated.
An outfit called Zim Vigil, which has been the anti-Zimbabwe, pro-opposition MDC, has been leading the charge.
The group’s co-ordinator, Rose Benton, was quoted in the media saying:
“We are puzzled why a British doctor should want a farm in Zimbabwe since he and his wife are apparently in full-time employment here and have no known farming experience in a country facing starvation. We are asking the British government to revoke Dr Nyatsuro’s citizenship and we have a petition that we will be sending to the Premier David Cameron with this request.”
The framing of the story is interesting.
Dr Nyatsuro ceases to be a Zimbabwean, the land of his birth and heritage.
This poor Rankin becomes a full Zimbabwean, when his skin colour naturally tells of a geographical and historical outsider.
We are not trying to be racist.
The fact of the matter is that blacks of this country have more than equal title to land and other resources of this country, which resources were stolen from them by the devils of Rankin’s colour.
The redistributive phase has been about restorative justice and Dr Nyatsuro is entitled to it, by way of getting land, just as this writer, that black guy and the next.
There cannot be any question about it.
And people need to be cured of what is called the Stockholm Syndrome.
This phenomenon, also known as capture-bonding, “is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors”.
This is about what the idiots tormenting Dr Nyatsuro and otherwise abetting racist tormenting of Zimbabwe by the West may be suffering from, apart from the obvious treachery and selling out associated with reactionary politics.
Suddenly we are told to feel sympathy for a white elderly couple and condemn black “British” and his “greediness” when nobody in the West pitied poor blacks as they were killed, maimed, raped and forcibly dispossessed of their land.
Suffice to say the land reform programme is perfectly legal in ways that have been affirmed by our jurisdiction which is sovereign and is unlikely to be changed by anyone.
In the same jurisdiction, our courts have a right to enforce orders such as evictions of people who resist moving from Government-acquired land to benefit whoever is earmarked, for in the present case, black people are being restored to their land.