Reparations on land key to reconciliation in Zimbabwe
Wed, 27 Jan 2010
THE jostling by political parties over points to be considered and included in the new constitution is based on political ambitions and power struggles by political elites. The history of Zimbabwe which should serve as a guide in the formulation of a new constitution has been sidelined as fly-by-night issues are prioritized as a means to divert the attention of the ordinary Zimbabwean from one of the most important issues that needs to be addressed in present day Zimbabwe: Land.
Over the past five years, historians have noted with great concern revisionist efforts by right wing opinion makers to rewrite the history of Zimbabwe.
There has been a blatant movement that seeks to discredit the War of Liberation and characterize war veterans, collaborators and supporters as terrorists, misfits and troublemakers with no education or purpose in life. Newspapers, magazines, social forums, the internet and television programmes have been bombarded by former Rhodies and their apologists who glorify their criminal exploits against freedom fighters.
The wrongly labeled independent press has jumped on the bandwagon in order to pocket profits that come from supporting this movement and has gone on to even provide dubious witnesses who rubbish the War of Liberation, the role played by Zanla, Zipra and their respective political parties in order to achieve black
Apologists of Rhodesia have found shelter in this independent press where they are called “analysts” and spread their gospel of deceit as facts.As Zimbabweans gear to make presentations on what their constitution should say, it is important to take note of the fact that what they fail to get addressed this year will never be addressed, but will add to what already is in the rubbish heap of Zimbabwe’s political failures.
Land is key to the future of Zimbabwe.
The history of land in Zimbabwe has been trivialized to an extent where the debate is one sided. The desensitization of land as a means of production of the black Zimbabwean has been remarkably successful. It is sad that the present generation of “born frees” has fallen hook, line and sinker for the lie that they are incapable of farming and need the white farmer to farm food for them.
While across the globe indigenous people are fighting to get their land back in order to empower themselves, in Zimbabwe many blacks are fighting to have the land reoccupied by white farmers because they have been told that “farming is for whites, blacks can never be self-sufficient and have to work for some one never themselves”.
One begins to think there is a conspiracy to disassociate the black Zimbabwean from his heritage. Land as a means of livelihood takes a backbench and the media has reframed priorities leading people to believe that freedom of speech, gay rights, limited presidential power, will somehow translate into healthy well rounded Zimbabweans. With all its freedoms, America remains on top of the list of countries whose indigenous people continue to live in abject poverty. New Zealand and Australia follow closely. Funny enough these states, which are former settler colonies of Britain, take a cue from their mother and continue to oppress and fight against any form of reparations to those they colonized and dispossessed. Reparation is a dirty word if it is used in the same sentence with the words, black, Indian, Aborigine, Maori.
The greatest case for reparations put across has been for that of slavery and yet those culpable have managed to sow seeds of discord, manipulate the argument for reparations and to the outrage of the African American Reparations Movement, blame slavery on Africans. Companies, institutions and families that benefited from slavery continue to prosper and are among the most respected in the world and yet they refuse to apologize and restitute the descendants of slaves.
Aetna wrote life insurance policies on the lives of enslaved Africans with slave owners and traders as beneficiaries. The British Monarchy, which was the authority at the time, made huge profits through commissions and taxes. Brown University whose founding family gets its name from was a major slave trader. JP Morgan Chase and Wachovia both have connections to the slave trade. These are but a few of the companies, institutions and families who benefited from slavery.
Many of these institutions, states and families that amassed great wealthrefuse to accept responsibility for their crimes and injustices. Instead they are on the forefront of funding think-tanks to come up with papers that cleanse them of any wrongdoing. One such think-tank went so far as to say paying reparations for colonialism and slavery would increase racism in America.
The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. has been reduced to a mere holiday to give lip service to a black icon that was murdered for his fight for black freedom. White institutions turn a blind eye to everything that King said except the part that serves their interests, which is that of a color-blind non-segregated America. They forget that Dr. King demanded social changes and economic opportunities for African Americans and addressed the issue of reparations that the white community has failed to uphold.
In Zimbabwe the debate on property rights, which the white farmers have monopolized, fails to take into context the history of land in Zimbabwe. In 2001 the Sub Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights adopted unanimously a resolution on recognition of responsibility and reparation for the massive and flagrant violations of human rights that constituted crimes against humanity that took place during the slavery and colonial period.
The Sub Commission requested that all countries concerned take initiatives that would assist their former colonies notably through the provision of truthful information, which would enable the guarantee of the implementation of this resolution. At this point Britain and her Queen should have steeped down for their holier than thou snob pedestal and sought to make peace with Zimbabwe.
The Rudd Concession is an example of the extent of British duplicity; they intentionally and willfully cheated King Lobengula. The Rudd Concession was a means to an end, the Charter.
The British Monarchy should acknowledge that it allowed for Rhodes, Rudd and their associates to first steal and then legalize their theft of Zimbabwe.
Blacks in Zimbabwe were dispossessed of land and waters and livelihoods and the Government of the United Kingdom should pay compensation to Zimbabwe for those lands and resources and also pay the remnants of its settler colony that today refuse, like their American counterparts, to accept the consequence of their fathers' actions and their immoral legacy denying the fact that what they claim as property is in fact stolen property.
On top of this, Britain should pay twenty (20%) of the value of all the goods produced and extracted from the resources of Zimbabwe since 1890. This compensation is not enough, but will be a road to reconciliation of who we are as Zimbabweans.
The psychological effects of war, conquest and racism on Zimbabweans are too great to measure but remain a fact. The assassination of our character of “Ubuntu” by the introduction of a value system that rewards greed, corruption, and individualism is a crime that dehumanized us and today this value system continues to feed on many in society.
As Zimbabweans move towards a new constitution, they should recognize their strengths and weaknesses and embrace them so that at the end of the constitution- making process they have a home-made constitution which future generations can identify with.
Zimbabwe’s constitution should not be like that of America whose constitution was written by a few learned white men who spoke of “all men are created equal under God” and yet these men not only owned other humans as slaves, they denied women the right to own property and justice was only for white men who owned land and had money.
Reparations on land key to reconciliation in Zimbabwe