Sadly in Zimbabwe, attributes such as democracy, good governance and the rule of law are things that are merely talked about but not practised.
Otherwise, why should Zanu PF’s Women’s League leader Oppah Muchinguri clash with Zanu PF’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa over the take-over of one of the most productive farms in Manicaland, as reported recently by both the press and the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU).
The ongoing takeover of productive farms including those that are protected by the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (Bippa) by the so-called Zanu militants is a matter of national concern which should not depend on individual Zanu PF senior politicians for resolution, but should be an exclusive matter for the government of national unity.
I am not talking here about that toothless bulldog that goes by the name of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic). Why this Jomic exists at all boggles the mind! I am talking about and calling on the government of national unity (GNU) to show leadership and stop the insanity of this endless programme of farm evictions.
Is the inclusive government that toothless and impotent as Jomic? The GNU is failing the nation on this particular issue of national importance.
We are merely stating the obvious when we say that the unending farm evictions and disruptions have consequences for foreign policy decisions and financial decisions by investors from many parts of the world. It distresses me to be a citizen of a country whose leaders condone beatings and harassment of both farmers and farm workers. It saddens me to be a citizen of a country whose leaders ignore and disregard court orders, where there is no rule of law and where Zanu PF supporters are free to confiscate anything someone else has worked for. And then we mourn when tourists and investors are reluctant and unwilling to get involved in Zimbabwe, forgetting that we are our own worst enemies. Oh dear, what’s going on here?
Our lack of success in the whole economic recovery process comes primarily from our own destructive ways and our acceptance of illiterate people who do not have the slightest knowledge, expertise, skill and innovation to take over productive farms.
No wonder these perpetually new farmers invariably force commercial farmers off there farms just as the crops are ready to reap; crops that these cellphone farmers would not have put into the ground in the first place. What a shame!
The supreme lesson of this day and age is that a people who are free go right ahead through self-effort and don’t loot other people’s wealth and strip their assets; more or less the sort of things that the Affirmative Action Group does.
And no society can move forward without attributes such as acknowledging and respecting the property of others and of course good governance and the rule of law.
We are losing our way as a country precisely because we have not put accountability and the rule of law at the centre of everything that we do.
This is the single greatest source of our failure in this country. Why is it that even poorer countries than Zimbabwe in this region are succeeding and we are failing? Look at our education sector at the moment. It is in a total shambles.
Our health delivery system — which has indeed picked up — is a far cry from what it used to be 10 or so years ago. Also look at the dilapidated infrastructure everywhere which used to be very sound 10 or so years ago.
Things are stalling practically everywhere and in every sector in this country or not moving as fast as we would want them to while in countries around us things are happening. Why? And we talk about 2010! God help us indeed.
It was stated by government at the outset of the land reform programme in 2000 that it would be done in such a way that the nation’s food production and other issues would not be affected.
But given what Zimbabweans have experienced over the years, this has not been the case. The chaos that has reigned since 1999 but is still continuing on farms has to be seen to be believed.
Even now, if one is to drive around the country, the way I have done in my home province of Mashonaland Central and my home district Guruve, it is disturbing to see and witness how Zimbabwe’s agriculture has massively declined and become a shadow of its former self. How it is going to recover given this unending programme of land invasions is anybody’s guess.
Quite a large chunk of former prime land now lies uncultivated and derelict. Grass everywhere is what I have seen in my drives around the country. I still strongly believe that it is never too late to do what is right for the country given the resilience of its people, black and white, as well as the robustness of its infrastructure.
Why are we not learning from the success of our neighbouring countries just as much as we can learn from our own failures? A friend of mine who visited Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park during the just ended festive season told me how amazed he was to see hordes and hordes of tourists visiting Victoria Falls but staying in Zambia, and how for some reason animals from the Hwange National Park were migrating into neighbouring Botswana.
What does this say about us? Whether this has to do with our burning of vegetation in the national park or the destruction of infrastructure or both is difficult to say. But one thing is clear.
These things are happening and there is no point in us pretending otherwise. Something really needs to be done if we really have the interest of Zimbabwe at heart and perhaps it is not too late to salvage something.
In conclusion and at the risk of sounding repetitive, I would like to reemphasise the overriding importance of the inclusive government showing real leadership to end this seemingly endless programme of farm evictions and harassment.
It is not doing the country any good at all. People are surprised that on this key issue there is deafening silence and lack of action on the part of the GNU. We can only ignore what is happening on the commercial farms at our continued peril.
Ultimately, the buck stops with President Robert Mugabe. A public statement from the president to simply say no more farm invasions in conformity with the rule of rule will be sufficient and will really do the trick.
If the land is the economy as we were repeatedly told at the beginning of the fast track land reform, is it not more to the point that the effective and judicious use of the land is the economy.
Bornwell Chakaodza is a veteran journalist and media consultant.
By Bornwell Chakaodza