‘Don’t use Zim as scarecrow’


Harare ‑Former Governor of the Reserve Bank of South Africa and ruling ANC technocrat, Tito Mboweni, has come under fire for using Zimbabwe as a “scarecrow” in the South African government’s failure to redistribute land to the black majority.

South Africa has unequal land tenure between the majority black people and the white minority with the latter holding onto 80 percent of the resource, as the status quo remains nearly 20 years after the fall of apartheid.

Last week, Mboweni in reference to Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Front Party, which is calling for radical policies including expropriation of land without compensation and the nationalisation of mines, described such propositions as political adventurism.

“In this day and age, advocating the kinds of things that the EFF advocates, is to me far removed from left-wing politics and is more towards political adventurism,” he wrote in a publication.

“I mean, if you look into what President (Robert) Mugabe has done nearby in Zimbabwe, you cannot come to any other conclusion than to view the roots of these actions as a narrow nationalism which has served an elite grouping while successfully destroying the Zimbabwean economy and bringing untold misery to the ordinary people of Zimbabwe.

“…Sadly, the seduction of land grabs conceals the fact that the ‘Jujus’ of such ploys are never the ones to go hungry in the name of short-term pain. ‘Who pays?’ is a standing question, even if the means of payment is not money per se.

“So if Zimbabwe 2.0 is what the EFF wants to do here in South Africa, the answer should be, ‘hell no!’”

However, EFF’s commissar Floyd Shivambu, has dismissed Mboweni’s analysis pointing to a growing body of evidence of the success of Zimbabwe’s land reform.

Says he: “Demonising Zimbabwe and using it as a scarecrow exposes the intellectual and scholarly weakness and dishonesty of the erstwhile Governor of the Reserve Bank.

“All reliable data and information currently available in the world, even from the World Bank confirm that Zimbabwe is not in crises, which are figments of Mboweni’s imagination.

“As early as 2011, Zimbabwe’s food production and economy are stable, and thousands of indigenous Zimbabweans benefitting from small-scale agriculture, because the huge commercial farms have been broken down to benefit as many Zimbabweans as possible.

“Mboweni’s demonisation of Zimbabwe is also an out of fashion practice of white settlers and their masters abroad, whom the people of Zimbabwe correctly took land from in the late 1990s and early 2000.”

Shivambu situates Zimbabwe’s economic challenges as worsened by sanctions imposed on the country by “imperialist Masters”, of the United States of America and the European Union, who did not approve of the land reform.

“For pure ideological opportunism, Mboweni ignores the progress in Zimbabwe because he believes that people are frightened by what happened or is happening in Zimbabwe.

“The approach towards Zimbabwe is entirely problematic and dishonest, and surely South Africa’s Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi will agree because he recently remarked in his address to the SADTU National General Council that “we may be able to learn something from the agrarian model adopted by our Zimbabwe neighbours – essentially breaking down large-scale farms and promoting more intensive small scale farming’,” says Shivambu.

Lately, various sources have underscored the success of the land reform and its instructiveness to the region.

Last Monday, Bloomberg announced that “Mugabe makes Zimbabwe’s tobacco farmers land reform winner”, chronicling how tobacco farming was buoying the economy and changing lives of farmers. In the book, “Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land” by Joseph Hanlon; J M Manjengwa; Teresa Smart is one of the authorities to acknowledge Zimbabwe’s successful agrarian reform.

Teresa Smart, one of the authors, told Al Jazeera in June that, “Since the end of hyperinflation, since the dollar economy started in 2009, production has gone up every year until its approaching that of the production before land reform”.

Sam Moyo, a professor and the executive director of the African Institute for Agrarian Studies in Harare, also told the station that President Robert Mugabe had been right to redistribute land.

“I, since the (19)80s, have been arguing for a more progressive and extensive reform,” said Moyo.

In August, former South African President Thabo Mbeki told a symposium land reform had been successful in Zimbabwe.

He said: “… I have looked at, at least four books that have been written about the land reform in Zimbabwe, all of which say in fact the process of land reform in Zimbabwe has given land to at least 300-400 000 new land owners, the peasants of Zimbabwe at last own the land.

“The programme succeeded and has this direct benefit on these huge numbers of Zimbabweans.”

November 2013
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