HomeEditorial CommentMugabe, Tyson and the theft of land

Mugabe, Tyson and the theft of land

A scene at the Zanu PF national headquarters last week at the occasion of the party’s politiburo meeting:
Robert Mugabe: “Kasukuwere, you took land earmarked for the youth and sold it?”


Saviour Kasukuwere (shocked, terrified and trembling while moving towards Mugabe in a bid to keep accusation out of earshot): “Aiwa shefu, I didn’t. It’s not true.”

Mugabe (moving away from the advancing Tyson and still speaking loudly for the benefit of all: “Yes it’s true, you did it. You sold the land, I have been informed and that’s what I believe!”

The land in question is thousands of hectares in prime areas and worth many millions of dollars. Ordinarily, accusations of this massive corruption coming from the mouth of the president should lead to immediate action by the police. But in Zimbabwe it does not happen.

Like the $15 billion diamond saga, similarly exposed by the State president, we don’t expect anything to happen.
What citizens fail to understand is the reason behind the inaction. Is it that police just can’t act because the president did not go to the charge office to make a formal complaint? Is it that the president just makes such serious accusations in public without correct information and proof? Or is the president fed with unsubstantiated information (rumours) and he just believes anything that gets to his ears?

The assumption by citizens is that the president gets his information from people whose job it is to advise the Head of State properly — accurately. There is a whole huge department, including the Central Intelligence Organisation, whose job is to provide both security and high class information and it is this information that the president relies on when he makes public statements or accusations.

It is difficult to believe the president just relies on information he reads in newspaper stories and takes it on face value without verifying with those around him — unless something is wrong with the Head of State and Government.

But then again, land has for many years been abused by Zanu PF for personal political and financial leverage.

The issue of correcting historical imbalances brought about by colonialism is a matter as noble as it sounds.
Zimbabwe was quite right in pushing this agenda, until the idea was hijacked by greedy individuals who transformed a good national project into theft, plunder and indignity.

Mugabe, the pioneer and vicious proponent of indigenisation, has seen and acknowledged this prostitution of his idea, but other than condemning and threatening to take action, he is yet to be seen to do anything about the people that have soiled his name — stolen his legacy.

It began with the farms where Zanu PF chefs fell over each other to grab as many of the biggest and richest farms as they could lay their hands on. We ended up having a handful of Zimbabweans owning several huge farms each, where they seized massive expensive equipment — without paying a cent — even though the issue was about taking land and not stealing personal property.

Towards the end of the last decade, when the farm seizures had been “successfully” completed and huge tracts of once productive farming land had been reduced to wasteland, turning Zimbabwe from “breadbasket” to “basket case”, the same individuals from the same political party who benefitted from the land grab and massive looting of agricultural inputs started looking around asking: “What do we do now that the farms have run out?”

This was quite a big question for Zanu PF and quite understandably too, given that the party needed to urgently find something else to buy loyalty and support with — even from known thieves and plunderers within its ranks, because they have the masses under their grip — in the manner demonstrated through the blood of 2008.

Even as Mugabe publicly condemns it, legitimising theft has become Zanu PF’s key survival strategy and the orgy of greed has reached utterly disgraceful proportions.

Mugabe’s indigenisation programme, draped as it is in language about historical imbalances, may have seduced a lot of good people around the world into accepting the “morality” of the agenda, but given incidents such as the on-going urban land theft, the whole process appears to have been turned into a glut-fest among Zanu PF’s elite loyalists.

In the past few weeks, thousands of hectares of land in prime areas of the city of Harare have been grabbed by Zanu PF, ostensibly as a government project to accommodate Zimbabwean youths. The truth of the matter, however, is that it is Zanu PF that has taken away council land by force seeking to ingratiate party youths and buy their political support as elections draw close.

As the party’s political commissar, Kasukuwere was tasked with this job and he used his Local Government hat to execute the land heist. But while he was at it, the Zanu PF spirit of plunder seized him and he found himself stealing the stolen land and dolling it out to his own political fans, including friends and relatives, while selling some apparently for his own benefit.

The involvement of Kasukuwere in the distribution or selling of urban land is as curious as the destination of the money raised from the sale of the land.

Our leaders have chosen to embrace a carnivorous system of governance that will continue to impoverish citizens of this country. And, in spite of the on-going street protests by angry masses, our rulers continue to treat our country as a resource to be used up and then discarded once it falls apart. Their display of unrestrained selfishness and wanton greed is sickening.

After the ruthless plunder of our diamonds and other forms of national wealth, the scavengers are now gnawing at the remaining bare bones. They are fighting, like crabs in a bucket, for the remaining piece of the national cake — urban land.

And, just as he exposed and did nothing about the $15 billion diamond heist, Mugabe will rant and rave about one scandal after another but he will do nothing about it and the pillage will not stop.

It has become axiomatic in the Zanu PF government that hornets’ nests should be left unstirred, cans of worms should remain unopened, and cats should be left firmly in bags and not set among the pigeons . . . and that while party and government run away with their loot, law enforcement should resolutely turn their backs to the music.

Is it any wonder then that this Zanu PF government now runs a budget 97% of whose revenue goes to civil servants’ salaries — a scandal of global proportions!

Feedback: tchipangura@standard.co.zw

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