‘No going back on Zim land reform’
Retired Zimbabwean High Court Judge, Justice Simpson Mtambanengwe says it would be grossly naïve for anyone to expect former colonialists not to denigrate Zimbabwe’s land redistribution policy after that policy literally snatched bread out of their mouths.
Mtambanengwe made the remarks when he addressed scores of Zimbabweans living in Namibia who gathered in Windhoek on Saturday, April 19 to belatedly commemorate their country’s 34th anniversary of political independence from Britain.
Stressing that it had to get worse before it got better in Zimbabwe, Mtambanengwe said Independence Day provides an opportunity for all Zimbabweans, regardless of political affiliation, to rejoice at the fact that after a long struggle they became independent and masters of their own destiny.
To applause, the judge said the occasion enabled Zimbabweans also to remember those that sacrificed their lives in order to uproot colonialism. He invoked harrowing memories of the Nyadzonya and Chimoio massacres, in which thousands of mostly unarmed Zimbabweans including women and children were killed in Mozambique by the colonial regime during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.
He said Zimbabweans must forever remember those who paid the supreme sacrifices and countless others that vanished into the mists of their country’s war for liberation.
Mtambanengwe spent 13 years in exile fighting for Zimbabwe’s independence.
“The other day I read an article in which somebody in (the opposition) MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) pronounced the words that (Ian) Smith was better. I said to myself ‘What a pity!’ He was, of course, talking about the economic suffering that the people of Zimbabwe are experiencing,” he said, adding that Zimbabwe’s current economic woes should be viewed “in proper historical perspective”.
He drew parallels between Zimbabwe and Ghana, which was slapped with crippling economic sabotage after President Nkwame Nkrumah dared to demand for independence of the whole of Africa.
“The whites – the imperialists – regarded Nkrumah as a dangerous man, because what he espoused and stood for was against their interests.” Mtambanengwe said when Nkrumah stoutly refused to wind his neck back in, outraged “imperialists” depressed the price of cocoa, at that time Ghana’s main income earner, with disastrous economic consequences.
He said as the machinations of the former colonialists touched on raw economic nerves in Ghana, many people – including intellectuals – who did not understand what was happening, condemned Nkrumah and overthrew him. In the ensuing mayhem, some people destroyed statues erected in his honour.
“It was only afterwards that the people came to realise that they had lost a great asset in Nkrumah.”
Mtambanengwe said Zimbabwe was engaged in a struggle for economic independence dubbed Third Chimurenga. In such a struggle, feathers were bound to be ruffled and for the lily-livered to grumble “just as the Israelites did when Moses was leading them towards the Promised Land”.
While many people, including scholars, have wondered why the Israelites spent 40 years wandering through the desert before reaching Canaan, the judge had a ready explanation.
His view is that God kept the Israelites in the desert for so long so that those of them who were doubting Thomases would die off, lest they polluted the new society.
“Reaching the Promised Land needs a lot of sacrifices. In Russia, industrialisation only came after a lot of sacrifices. We (in Zimbabwe) are going through the same phase so that we become economically independent. They (ex-colonialists) vilify Comrade (Robert) Mugabe because he introduced a land redistribution policy, which impinged on the interests of former colonisers.”
He and said Zimbabwe’s land reform was done deal in and irreversible.
“I don’t think there would be any political party in Zimbabwe, no matter how opposed they are to Zanu-PF, which would want to reverse the land redistribution programme because that is what we fought for.”
To applause, the judge revealed that he joined the liberation struggle straight from the university because he could not countenance a system “that called my father and many other old wise men boys.”
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Namibia Chipo Zindoga who also spoke at the occasion, encouraged her compatriots living in Namibia to be law abiding and exemplary.
Speaking in Shona and IsiNdebele, the Ambassador enjoined her country men and women to respect Namibian laws and to desist from entering into marriages of convenience with Namibians.
Calling for patriotism, Amb. Zindoga exhorted all Zimbabweans to fight for their country’s economic independence.
“Zimbabwe has come a long way and we should be proud of our achievements. We reclaimed our land, so Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle was not in vain … Do not despair,” she said.
Turning to Zimbabwe’s economic prospects, Amb. Zindoga explained that the country had crafted a new development blueprint dubbed Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIM ASSET). Built around four strategic clusters, ZIM ASSET seeks; inter alia, to achieve food security and nutrition; delivery of social services and poverty eradication; infrastructure development and provision of utilities; and value addition and beneficiation.
“Every Zimbabwean has a part to play.” Earlier, Zimbabwean academic, Professor Jairos Kangira, also challenged Zimbabweans to cherish political independence, play active roles in bringing about economic prosperity and to remain united.
“Let us all be united. If one of us is in problems let us help out.” Female guitarists and dancers from the Ndilimani Cultural Group provided entertainment at the function.