HomeOpinion & AnalysisCan Zimbabwe regain trust through compensation for white farmers?

Can Zimbabwe regain trust through compensation for white farmers?

BY KENNETH MUFUKA

It is not always true that I write what I like. Sometimes I am told to direct my attention to certain issues which, until then, I thought were none of my business.

The continuing plight of the white farmers and the government playing yo-yo with them is one such issue. During the week of the 13th of July, our Zimbabwe government, which had promised the white farmers a pay-out of US$1 million from a dodgy fund called Kuvimba Mining House, turned around and now says that the payment has been postponed till 2022.

It is as if the white farmers have not waited long enough while the government plays a game of yo-yo with them.

Gaining trust

On August 31, 2020, with much aplomb the government announced what it called a Global Agreement (oh, how the Philistines love words). Hidden behind the Global Agreement was a belief that if it paid compensation to white farmers, the European Union and the US would lift sanctions. Further, the Zimbabwe government would gain the trust of the white farmers and the western world.

Perhaps sanctions against Zimbabwe might be lifted. I am not the one to deny the efficacy of US sanctions. The US dollar is worth Jamaican (JMD) 154. When I worked there in 1975, the JMD was worth US$2. The Jamaicans tampered with the big four US mining companies and they have never recovered from the punishment.

However, it seems to me that the path Zimbabwe is following will not lead to restoration of trust, either with white farmers or with the European Union and the US. The rules of gaining trust, after it has been lost, are simple.

One must confess the wrongs done; no dillydallying. Simply say, “I am sorry.” Further the Zimbabwe government knows (or should know) that were it to comply with western demands, including free and open elections, it would reform itself out of power and many of the Philistines in power today could see themselves looking through jailhouse windows.

Therefore, it is a waste of time to pretend otherwise. Under the present circumstances, western trust, which is predicated on transformative changes in power structures, is out of the question.

But that is not my concern.

My concern is that even under the worst of circumstances, the government continues to complicate otherwise simple matters.

It was not a mistake to redistribute the land and share it with black farmers.

It was a horrible mistake to dispossess native whites of their livelihoods. This is not my personal opinion. Tanzania minister Muhammad Babu wrote to Prime Minister Robert Mugabe in great detail about the evils that such a course would entail.

“To expropriate (white-owned farmland) will amount to economic disaster, at least in the short run.” (March 18, 1980.)

In religious circles, we have learnt that one cannot gain trust from those one has offended or make a fresh start until one confesses the mistakes (called sins) of the past.

The government will gain some trust, at least among the white farmers, if it started by simply acknowledging its past sins and starting to make amends.

It is now 20 years since the expropriation. Many farmers went “bonkers” (lost their minds) when war veterans threw them out of homes they were born in.

Why is this so difficult to understand?

Complications

I was asked to write because, after agreeing to pay some compensation, the government further complicates the issue.

If the Global Agreement is followed, and the sum of $3.5 billion is distributed among registered
3 500 farmers equally, each will receive US$1 million. After 20 years of accrued interest that is very little.

Having promised them the money, one would have assumed that there was some money somewhere to distribute.

An abracadabra scheme originating from Kuvimba Mining House is supposed to have an investment portfolio “gifted to government for use in favour of white farmers”.

There is no such thing as “a free gift”, and the phrase is oxymoronic.

Anyway, the gift of a US$250 million portfolio is supposed to have created a dividend fund of
US$1 million. That is less that 1% return on the investment. At that rate, it will take 3 500 years to pay off the farmers.

If the money is set aside for white farmers, surely the easiest plan is to hand over the money to the white farmers’ union for distribution.

My government has never seen a problem it did not try to complicate.

It has set up a secretariat.

The secretariat is made up of cronies. The cronies will have all the perks permissible in their rank, high uplift Range Rovers so they will be able to navigate the Zimbabwe roads, allowances for hardships, and pretty secretaries probably hired for other preferences (read between the lines). The US$1 million set aside has already disappeared before the distribution starts.

A new complication

“We are determined to make sure that by August next year we will have raised 50% of the target,” said Finance minister Mthuli Ncube. (Bloomberg August 6, 2020)

I am writing on July 21, 2021 and no such money is forthcoming even if the brother says abracadabra.

The brother explained that the newly-formed Victoria Falls Stock Exchange market will be asked to float 30-year Zimbabwe bonds. At the same time a European company has been employed to “source donations and funds” from European investors and well-wishers.

My brother, sluggards are never short of words.

“Ncube said that regardless of the success or lack of it in raising funding on the global market, the government would, in its national budget, continue to set aside funding to compensate vulnerable and elderly white farmers.” (Bloomberg, op.cit)

Ncube lacks a basic understanding of natural law. After committing horrendous acts against white farmers, it is impossible to ask for trust from them or bystanders (European Union and the US) unless one reverses course. That is the meaning of confession.

Lastly, as an old Zipra representative, we lost 32 farms and business establishments as well as
20 000 dead in Gukurahundi. We want our businesses back. We also want a confession and compensation for lost lives and destroyed families. Please do not speak of trust before a confession.

How the government hopes to gain the trust of the “global community” beats me. It has not gained my trust. I am a Zipra cadre. Drop your bucket where you are, you sluggard, before you say big words to white farmers.

  • Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwean patriot. He writes from the US. His books are on sale at Innov8 Bookshops throughout Zimbabwe.    

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