Zim deferred land reform for South Africa: Mbeki

THABO MBEKITichaona Zindoga Political Editor—
ZIMBABWE deferred the land reform programme in 1990 to avoid scuttling negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa, former South African President Thabo Mbeki revealed yesterday.The 10-year moratorium on land reform imposed at the Lancaster House Constitutional had lapsed, but on the advice of the Commonwealth, Government delayed repossessing land for fear of hardening the stance of the apartheid regime.

In an article titled, “South Africa’s Policy Towards Zimbabwe — A Synopsis” (see page 11) Cde Mbeki, who reflects on the relations between Zanu-PF and the ANC, also reveals attempts by the West led by UK to effect illegal regime change, including via military means, in Zimbabwe.

“In 1990 as we began our negotiations to end the system of apartheid, the then Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, engaged President Mugabe to persuade him that the Government of Zimbabwe should not proceed with any programme to implement a radical land reform, given that the Lancaster House Constitutional 10-year prohibition of this had expired,” said Cde Mbeki.

“Chief Anyaoku and the Commonwealth Secretariat feared that any radical land redistribution in Zimbabwe at that stage would frighten white South Africa and thus significantly complicate our own process of negotiations.

“President Mugabe and the Zimbabwe Government agreed to Chief Anyaoku’s suggestion and therefore delayed for almost a decade the needed agrarian reform, which had been a central objective of the political and armed struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe,” said Cde Mbeki, who is using a series of weekly articles to reflect and set the record straight on his time as South African leader.

The establishment of firm fraternal relations between Zanu-PF and the ANC allowed the two parties to interact with each other “openly and frankly”, which would lead South Africa to facilitate political dialogue in Zimbabwe, said Cde Mbeki.

His efforts led to the signing of the Global Political Agreement comprising of Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara respectively in 2008, which led to the inclusive Government the following year.

But Cde Mbeki was under pressure to abet regime change in Zimbabwe.

He reflects: “There were others in the world, led particularly by the UK, who opposed our approach of encouraging the Zimbabweans to decide their future. These preferred regime change — the forcible removal of President Mugabe and his replacement by people approved by the UK and its allies.

“This is what explained the sustained campaign to condemn us for conducting the so-called ‘quiet diplomacy’. What was wrong with ‘quiet diplomacy’ . . . was that it defended the right of the people of Zimbabwe to determine their future, as opposed to the desire by some in the West to carry out regime change in Zimbabwe and impose their will on the country!”

He said the UK and the US had imposed sanctions and conditions “to shorten the period of any Mugabe Presidency”.

“Our then Minister of Intelligence, Lindiwe Sisulu, had to make a number of trips to London and Washington to engage the UK and US governments on their plans for Zimbabwe, with strict instructions from our government to resist all plans to impose anything on the people of Zimbabwe, including by military means,” he said. “Accordingly it was not from hearsay or third parties that we acquired the knowledge about Western plans to overthrow President Mugabe, but directly from what they communicated to a representative of our government.”

Cde Mbeki said South Africa had been guided by the philosophy that Zimbabwe was a sovereign country.

“Throughout these years we defended the right of the people of Zimbabwe to determine their destiny, including deciding on who should govern the country. This included resisting all efforts to impose other people’s solutions on Zimbabwe, which, if this had succeeded, would have served as a precursor for a similar intervention in our country!” he said.

Pin It
  • Sifiso Xolile Ndlovu Zgwanyanw

    There is nothing new that was unknown about all of this. Zimbabwe has moved way past this, how about shining a spotlight on the black tobacco farmers who have done what we were all told was impossible; out-producing the former white farmers in a very short span of time, now that is news!

    • SimonPetere

      Sadly you are forgetting to grow maize wheat and soybean resulting begging the expelled farmers in Zambia doing the feeding of the nation for you . It’s not about more money

      • G Tichatonga

        Yah go to Zambia then.

        • Antitroll

          Racist troll

      • G Tichatonga

        The white man was always into horticulture and safari….the bulk of the maize crop came from communal farmers….provide alternative statistics tione.

  • Biggie Taapatsi

    Mbeki is one of a kind, a true African statesman indeed.

  • Nyamasvisva

    Thank you for covering part of what Mbeki said. It shows just how the Zim government was patient and at the same time neighbourly. This is the selflessness HE always talks about. I hope tomorrow or soon you will cover something else he said about the 2008 Presidential run-off. In the same article he makes mention of the fact that he travelled to Byo to meet HE to persuade him to postpone the elections as violence had made conditions for a credible election impossible. He says HE “refused” as this would have violated the constitution. This time RSA was acting “neighbourly” only that they were not conversant with the provisions of the constitution. His synopsis makes riveting reading. Well done for bringing this document to the public, which document would otherwise be readable by a few. Putting it all out in the Herald, with your undisputed leadership and wide coverage in readership , most citizens will be the wiser. Thanks you.

  • Kuta Kinte

    Mbeki has always been a Pan Africanist and will die being one – I have had sight of some of his literature. Zimbabwe and Zambia received some bomb explosions at 88 Manica (now Robert Mugabe) and in Zambia around 1982/83 and this was meant to deal with the ANC representatives in Zimbabwe. The ANC staff being targeted can bear testimony that Zimbabwe played a significant part for the liberation of South Africa although the issue of xenophobia came as a surprising disturbance. At one time, if South Africa had been under another president who was not a Pan Africanist, Zimbabwe would have been forced to defend itself vigorously and militarily because the West was baying for HE RG’s blood and regime change. God also has his ways. We salute you comrade T Mbeki because we know that you are still fighting for the good of the African child.

  • Dzimbahwe

    Deferring or not deferring. That doesn’t mean Zimbabwe was supposed to engage in a disorderly land reform when the chance finally came. Look at the problems that we now have as a country. The issue was not about distributing land, but about giving it to people who were going to utilize it to the fullest. The trends that we are now seeing all point to the fact that the people who were leading the land wars all wanted to reap where they didn’t sow. After plundering what the white commercial farmers had produced, the vampires turned their attention to urban areas. Almost every space that we have was invaded and a lot of illegal settlements are mushrooming. the question is, if our struggle was about farming land, then why is it that the current problems that we are facing are related to the urban spaces? Honestly speaking, if we genuinely wanted farming lands, then our focus should have been in the country side. We should have been challenging those who are not utilizing their lands to do so and those who own multiple farms to cede some. So to me Mbeki is lying about the real Zimbabwean problems. The real Zim problems were political and Mugabe only unleashed the land issue to run away from the challenges of opening the democratic space

  • SM

    MDC came after the revolutionary land reform had started and this started with Svosve people in Marondera and war veterans and the government followed.

  • hozhwa

    Mbeki re writing history and lying. Land reform had more to do with lost support

  • G Tichatonga

    The Herald did not ignore that part. Read the whole paper. Let us criticise fairly.

  • yowe

    South Africa is benefiting a lot from our economic disaster. Please release statistics of the value of exports to Zimbabwe. It will be an interesting read to learn how much you are making. Thats why you really support the old man and his party

  • Collin Mackenzie

    MDC brought mess to Zimbabwe before MDC Zimbabwe was a great country.
    MDC was groomed by the British propaganda tools seeking to appoint a leader that is blind and has no clue with regards to the value of Zimbabwe as a country

    Today we has the same in Zanu PF who have promised the west to undo the land reform programme.

    The same way Bheki is now telling the truth is the same way Morgan and some Zanu PF leaders will do.
    We all know that Ami Muguri has been funded by the British moving their funds from MDC to Ami Muguri an some Snr Zanu PF leadership,hence all the discode we see today.

    Truth be told if President Mugabe leaves office today we are going to be slaves over night in Zimbabwe.