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The farm on their land - The historical fact

7 years ago | 9732 Views

“Looking at what has transpired with the land reform process, it is not farfetched to conclude that even with independence the white man felt that the policy of reconciliation legitimized property relations which obtained prior to 1980,” I observed. “The policy of reconciliation in 1980 was meant to appease the white man. Unfortunately as noble as the policy was, it unintentionally emptied the liberation war of all content beyond political power, and was a negation of the spirit of the revolution. It once again weakened the black majority who had been empowered through war and revolutionary consciousness.”

“With your indulgence ladies and gentlemen, allow me to state the matter that placed our Sovereignty in the dock,” said Owen determined to give a historical perspective to the subject under discussion. I had observed earlier, when I supervised Owen and the others during their internship that he always wanted to do things in a methodical and recognizable pattern to eliminate any possible confusion anyone may have.

“It shall be recalled that the Lancaster Agreement had guaranteed that Britain would compensate the white settler farmers for the stolen land sold to them by the successive colonial white governments. However, with the British negating to fulfill the Lancaster Agreement, the people of Zimbabwe had every right to take matters into their hands and set about repossessing the land stolen from them” contented Owen.

“Logically, in this country as anywhere else in the world the law is very clear on the possession of a stolen property. An individual found in possession of any stolen property, whether that property was acquired legally or illegitimately, is dispossessed of such property without recourse to compensation and the property is returned to its lawful owner. The Black Zimbabweans were doing just that,” charged the uncompromising Owen.

“After all the bitter war of liberation that was waged to bring about democracy to this country, resulting in the first elections in 1980, was about regaining the control of our land resources. It is well known that negotiations for Independence almost got bogged down over the land question. Already more than two decades after the signing of the Lancaster agreement, Britain had not provided adequate financial resources to compensate the farmers, claiming that it didn’t have the money,” observed Owen.

Owen went on to relate that between 1980 and 1995, about 71 000 families were resettled on about 3, 3 million hectares excised from the commercial sector. This was far below the 162 000 families the independent government of Zimbabwe had hoped to resettle on 8 million hectares of land. He noted that when the second phase of the land reform resumed less than two thousand five hundred households were resettled.

Owen recalled that the second phase of the land reform had envisaged the acquisition of about five million hectares of land from the commercial sector, with a million hectares set to be delivered for resettlement every year. The expectations were that the second phase would be kick-started with nearly a thousand farms that had been designated for acquisition. He lamented that this was sadly not to be as the mostly white commercial farmers contested the matter in the courts forcing the Government to abandon the acquisition process.

He recalled that the process of land acquisition and resettlement was both slow and frustrating for the government and the beneficiaries of the process. During the first decade of independence, the ‘willing-seller-willing-buyer’ clause in the Lancaster House Constitution slowed down the resettlement process. Also, the financial resources that the British and the American Governments had pledged to make available at Lancaster House either stopped or were too little to enable such an ambitious undertaking.

“To complicate matters,” noted Owen, “beyond 1997 the government had to content with the refusal of the New Labour Government in London to honour commitments made by previous British Governments on the land question. At the same time commercial farmers resisted the land acquisition through legal challenges as well as the land clause that was introduced in the rejected draft constitution of 2000.”

“Given these difficulties and to counteract foreign entities continuing to monopolize Zimbabwe’s economy, the government had to institute an aggressive ‘people first’ agrarian revolution that put the land reform programme on the fast track. It is that Agrarian Revolution ladies and gentlemen that ended with our Sovereignty in the dock today and it is our very Sovereignty that we stand to protect and we intent to achieve just that. One only needs to look at the historical perspective of the matter to understand why the people of Svosve took the matters into their hands. It is my sincere belief and expectation that the historical picture of this issue will vindicate our Sovereignty and the desire of the people of this Great Nation to self-determination,” declared Owen.

There was a long moment of silence as those sitting around the fire digested what Owen had just explained. As I looked from one individual to another I noticed everyone seemed to be in apparent agreement with what Owen had just said.

“That was educative my son,” said Baba Choto after a long while. “People need to get this kind of education on the history of this country.”

“I cannot agree more,” weighed in Sekuru Nyahuye. “The history that has eventually seen our Sovereignty in the dock today begins with the infamous arrival of the first white man into this country. Unfortunately, when many people hear about the land question in this country, their minds race all the way to the time when the first white man of the British origin set his foot in this country in 1891 and the systematic and brutal dispossession of the natives of their land that followed thereafter. Many people do not realize that the theft of the land continued until as late as the 1970’s when people were forcibly moved from their land in Mvuma to places like Silobela. That was only about ten years before this country became independent.

“The majority of the people who were forcibly moved from Mvuma and even here in Svosve are still alive to this day, but they could not return to their stolen land because they could not afford to compensate the white man who had taken over the ownership of their land. The irony of it all is that, when these natives were moved from their land, they were never compensated for the loss of that land, yet merely ten years later, they were required to compensate the thief if they had to regain control of their land. In all fairness and justice, that is unacceptable,” declared Sekuru Nyahuye. “We used to farm this very land before it was handed over to a white man after the Second World War,” he recalled.

Sekuru Nyahuye narrated that one morning a number of white men on horseback accompanied by a group of police men on foot arrived at their village. Within minutes all the villagers had been assembled at the chief’s home. They were informed that the land they were living on was no longer theirs and it now belonged to the British Crown. As such they were going to be moved to the newly created reserves. They were also informed that because the new reserves were they were going to be moved to, were not suitable for large numbers of livestock, each man would be allowed to take with him only five heads of cattle with the rest being forfeited to the British Crown.

“It was a devastating development of unparalleled proportions. I recall in our family we had a total of one hundred and fifty nine cattle. We lost almost all of them to the white man, together with our land,” recalled Sekuru Nyahuye. “The theft and the resultant unequal distribution of land in this country was the major factor that inspired the rural population to support the liberation war against white rule and no wonder it has been a source of continual popular agitation ever since.”

“Sekuru, you are a distinguished scholar of history of this country,” commented Owen who himself was teaching history at school. “You have given an excellent chronological account of some of the historical events that saw the natives of this country dispossessed of their land. I am a historian Sekuru. A historian is a student of history. Students of history study the past, that is to say events that took place during the times gone by. Myself I am interested in researching and studying the history of this country,” explained Owen.

Owen was enjoying the discussion and he wanted to tap more information from Sekuru Nyahuye. “From what you have narrated Sekuru, you gave me the impression that you have studied the history of the white settlement and the related land question in this country.”

“Yes Muzukuru I have extensively researched and studied on both subjects of the white settlement and the question of land ownership, access, distribution and redistribution obtaining in this country. Maybe it helps to let you know that I taught history for many years long before you were born,” responded Sekuru Nyahuye. “I never made it to the University because the system at the time did not make it possible for a black person to go to school beyond a certain level. My knowledge of history is from reading books and newspapers,” then he added proudly, “I am one of the few individuals in this country who ever read the Lancaster House Constitution for this country, before any amendment was made to it.”

“That is impressive Sekuru. Maybe tomorrow I should get time to talk to you, who knows, I may benefit from your findings on the white settlement and the early history of the land question in this country?” suggested Owen.

“Yes if we get the time, we can, but for the benefit of everyone around the fire tonight, let me just briefly give a background on the white settler population in this country and some of the associated events that followed,” suggested Sekuru Nyahuye. “For those who have read the history of this country, you would recall that in 1888, Cecil John Rhodes obtained a concession for mineral rights after signing the so called Rudd Concession with the Ndebele king, Lobengula.

“Shortly afterwards, the area that became Southern and Northern Rhodesia was proclaimed a British sphere of influence. Rhodes set up the British South Africa Company (BSAC) which was chartered in 1889. What Lobengula had understood only as an agreement for the company to mine gold was deliberately misinterpreted by Rhodes as virtually turning over sovereignty to the company.

In 1890, Rhodes sent in an invading force of white settlers and armed men to take the territory. Calling themselves the Pioneer Column, they set up their capital at Salisbury (now Harare, the capital). Thus, the settlement of Salisbury was established in 1890. In 1895, the territory was formally named Rhodesia after Cecil John Rhodes under the British South Africa Company’s administration.

“Basically, more than half of white Zimbabweans, primarily of English origin, arrived in Zimbabwe after World War II. Afrikaners from South Africa and other European minorities, including Portuguese from Mozambique, also are present in the country. Until the mid-1970s, there were about a thousand white immigrants per year. But as the war of liberation intensified thereafter, there was a steady emigration that even continued during the first decade of independence resulting in a loss of more than one hundred and fifty thousand whites and about a hundred thousand remaining in the country by 1992. Renewed white emigration in the late 1990s and early 2000s reduced the white population to less than fifty thousand,” outlined Sekuru Nyahuye.

“These are the whites who, over a century occupied most of the fertile land in Zimbabwe. As you may be aware, traditionally land has been a communally owned property in this country. That land ownership system still exists to this day in the communal areas of this country. However, with the coming of the white man into this country, a system of private land ownership was introduced by the white governments that ruled this country,” explained Sekuru Nyahuye

“Sorry to cut you short, but you have just mentioned something of particular interest and probably very pertinent to the issue we are discussing here Sekuru,” interjected Owen. “You said the white government introduced the system of private land ownership in this country. Can you please dwell in detail on how the early white settler governments introduced and sustained the system of private land ownership in this country?”

“In the beginning force was used to dispossess the natives of their land. By force I mean the use of arms of war. Once the natives were subjugated, a number of laws were promulgated and systematically used allied with brute force to dispossess and move people from their land. Here I will give in detail the recorded information that every student of history on the land question in this country will come across. The available information includes events and some of the laws that were put in place and used to force people from their land,” informed Sekuru Nyahuye.

“When the Pioneer Column entered the county to establish the various forts in 1890, each member of the column was granted 3 330 acres of farmland. In total there were about one thousand pioneer members including their police escort who were also entitled to this land allocation making about nine million five hundred twenty five thousand acres of land assigned and alienated to the Pioneer Column “grantees” long before they even pegged any part of the country.

“Cecil John Rhodes approved in 1892 a scheme which entitled about a hundred Afrikaner families in the Orange Free State who wanted to settle in the land north of the Limpopo a farm of six thousand three hundred and fifty acres each. Later that same year, in tandem with the scheme, Dunbar Moodie recruited thirty seven men, thirty one women and sixteen children from the Orange Free State for resettlement across the Limpopo. Thirteen of these Afrikaner families settled in the Enkeldoorn (Chivhu) area and the rest settled in Melsetter (Chimanimani),” narrated Sekuru Nyahuye. “In Melsetter the new arrivals occupied farmland of approximately one hundred and twenty seven thousand acres under the 1892 Rhodes’ agreement. Dunbar Moodie himself, a fortune hunter, had more than sixty thousand-acre farms in Melsetter by 1893.

“Those who would want to distort history will tell you that when the colonialists entered the country, much of the land was unoccupied and underutilized,” warned Sekuru Nyahuye. “The reality is, when the white settlers established Fort Victoria, many of the Pioneer Column members began immediately to peg and allocating themselves the land belonging to Chief Gutu in the north, Chief Zimuto in the east, Chief Chirumanzu in the north-west, and Chief Chivi in the south. The chiefs’ boundaries were clearly defined and recognized by every chief in the area, as well as by Lobengula in the far west and the Portuguese in the east in modern day Mozambique.

“In Matabeleland, Lobengula’s territory had its center in Bulawayo extending to the west and north from the upper Nata and Gwaai rivers up to the Bembezi and Bubi valleys. To the east, livestock grazed beyond the Shangani River that formed an ill-defined boundary. The Matobo Hills were within the southern boundary, though again livestock grazed beyond the Matobo Hills. This was the Ndebele heartland, excluding the tribes of the Kalanga in the north, the Mhari in the east, and the Venda in the south.

“The settlers fought wars and engineered coup d’état to have chiefs who were not friendly to them deposed from the thrown. For example in 1891, when the British South Africa (BSA) Company’s Pioneer Column realized that Chief Chirumanzu was not very welcoming, Chinyama, son of Bangure, who became friendly to the colonizers deposed Chatikobo, then Chief Chirumanzu, in a coup d’état. Similarly in 1892 Chiefs Zimuto and Gutu were deposed in coups staged with the active support and involvement of the white settlers.

“The coups guaranteed that ‘friendly chiefs’ surrounded Fort Victoria. These ‘friendly chiefs’ were ready to concede a lot of land around Fort Victoria to the settlers and to send five hundred hastily trained natives to participate in the seizure of Matabeleland. As a result, an estimated four hundred thousand acres of land in the Fort Victoria area alone constituted about seventy registered settler farms, by 1895.

“Feeling hugely insulted, Lobengula went to war with the BSAC in 1893 and lost badly. In that 1893 war, the Ndebele people went through an extremely traumatic confiscation of their land by Leander Starr Jameson who seized Matabeleland with forces mobilized from Fort Victoria, Tuli and Fort Salisbury. The invasion of Matabeleland by the Fort Victoria and Fort Salisbury columns targeted the City of Bulawayo, where Lobengula was. Lobengula escaped to the north along the Shangani River.

“With the battle raging in the Ndebele heartland, the people were deliberately forced out of their land, mainly to the north beyond Shangani River, and beyond the Gwaai River towards already earmarked Ndebele native reserves of Gwaai (Tsholotsho) and Shangani, (Lupane). Others, especially the Zansi and Nhla, were forced to the west and beyond Umguza. As if looting their cattle and taking their land was not traumatic enough, worse was to come for the people of Matabeleland following the capture of their territory in 1893. The survivors of the seizure of Matabeleland were driven to Gwaai and Shangani reserves inside the tsetse fly belt and mosquito infested zones.

“The price for everyone taking up arms and participating in the seizure of Matabeleland was a free farm of six thousand three hundred and fifty acres anywhere in Matabeleland with no obligation to occupy land there. Given that the Ndebele had been made to forfeit their land during the 1893 war, the Ndebele heartland was pegged and farms were established by mid-1894 before the Land Commission of 1894 made its recommendations.

“In total there were seven hundred and seventy two men of war mobilized from Salisbury and Victoria Columns with an entitlement of over four million nine hundred thousand acres of land. In addition these men were granted fifteen reef and five alluvial gold claims each, totaling more than eleven thousand five hundred reefs and three thousand eight hundred alluvial goldfields. Over and above all that, these men were granted a ‘loot’ of cattle, at the fall of the Ndebele Kingdom. All these grantees got their land and cattle in Matabeleland. Of course the survivors among the five hundred hastily trained natives from around Fort Victoria who participated in the seizure of Matabeleland that I mentioned earlier did not get the land and cattle as the whites did.

“Huge tracks of land were divided among white settlers. Essexvale (Esigodini) Estates of the Matabele Gold Reefs and Estates Company alone occupied about two hundred and fifty square miles in the Umzingwane River, south-east of Bulawayo. Heany and Selous alone owned about two hundred and twenty thousand acres of land, which by 1895 contained nearly one thousand two hundred cattle confiscated from the Ndebele. By 1895 Arthur Rhodes alone, the brother to Cecil John Rhodes, held Sauerdale with more than one hundred and eighty thousand acres within the Essexvale/ Matobo Hills Complex of Estates in the south-east of Bulawayo. He had more than one thousand two hundred head of cattle looted from the Ndebele people.

“Although in 1894 a Land Commission was established, its recommendations were already pre-empted by Jameson’s land distribution that had taken place long before the Land Commission was formed. Already by December 1893, Cecil John Rhodes the first to be allocated land well before the Land Commission of 1894, held the whole district of Matopo Hills. By then, the whole southern Matabeleland involving Essexvale and Matobo Hills had long been declared ‘occupied’ in December 1893.

“The Ndebele were virtually quarantined to the north, in the Gwaai (Tsholotsho) and Shangani (Lupane) native reserves, both within the tsetse fly and malaria infested zone with a total land area of six thousand five hundred acres. If you have been to that part of the country you would be aware that the region is sandy and not suitable for crop growing but only suitable for game reserve as one of the witnesses to the 1894 Land Commission emphasized.

“About half a million Ndebele people were to live in these native reserves when the Land Commission made its recommendations. Those who did not opt to go to the native reserves were made to stay on white settler farms on ‘locations’ as ‘tenants’ subject to paying ‘rent’ in the form of ‘forced labour’. Every married man was required to pay ‘hut tax’ for every wife’s hut.

“The Gwaai native reserves covered an area of about three thousand square miles compared to Essexvale’s two hundred fifty square miles allocated to only three white settlers while the Shangani native reserve was about three thousand five hundred square miles. Only the eastern part of this land was relatively suitable for human habitation. No wonder Earl Grey, the successor to Jameson, described these native reserves as ‘cemeteries’ not suitable for human settlement. The population densities in those areas were an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

“The 1894 Order in Council from Britain establishing native reserves brought in a new era to the white settlers and the BSA Company. The Order in Council gave power to the new settlers to literally drive the native blacks from their land and settle them anywhere the white settlers desired. It gave the whites the power to establish ‘locations’ on their ‘farms’ and ‘mines’, to tax the native blacks for whatever reason in the form of ‘hut tax’ and to dispossess the natives of their cattle in Matabeleland and Mashonaland which all now ‘belonged’ to the BSA Company.

“From October 1894, the ‘Native Affairs Department’ was established to implement policies derived from the Order in Council in both Matabeleland and Mashonaland. The BSA Company and the white settlers were no longer bound by either the Rudd Concession or the Lippert Concession. The Charter Law, locally termed Chataro was in operation and its effects were being felt throughout as the settlers exercised the right of conquest to Matabeleland and Mashonaland, yet Mashonaland was not as yet defeated.

“Practicing the law of conquest, the white settlers wasted no time in pegging and establishing farms along the entire high veldt in 1894. In the process either ‘locations’ on the farms, ‘native reserves’ near the farms or far away in the low veldt were established. Although the pegging and settling on the farms had been an ongoing process since 1891, the process accelerated after the Land Commission recommendations of 1894.

“By 1896 the Consolidated Company of Sir John Willoughby had accumulated about two thousand claims in the Kwekwe-Gweru area amounting to more than sixty thousand acres of land. Also, the Mashonaland Agency had secured about seventy nine farms within the Ndebele heartland on the Highveld, with land size of over one hundred thousand six hundred acres. The area stretching from Kwekwe to Gweru, crossing into the Sebakwe River area, and the entire Charter District (Chikomba), was occupied by Afrikaner farmers from the Orange Free State and the Transvaal.

“Farms were established from Bulawayo along the entire high veldt spine to Manicaland. A large group of the white settlers established farms along the Umnyati River and the Sebakwe River in Chief Mashava’s territory. Others had farms around Fort Charter in Chief Maromo’s territory. By 1895, chiefs Maromo, Mashava and Nyika’s territories were completely occupied by the Afrikaner farmers in a land area of about four hundred and fifty thousand acres. Chief Mutekedza’s territory, which was as big as chiefs Mashava/Nyika, and Maromo combined, that is, more than four hundred and fifty thousand acres, was completely alienated to Sir John Willoughby’s Mashona Consolidated Company, forming Wiltshire, Lancashire and other estates by 1895.

“In Chief Mashayamombe’s territory in Hartley (Chegutu) which was quite expansive with boundaries in the north with Zvimba, in the east with Chivero, and in the west with Ngezi, the white settlers concentrated more on mining than on agriculture before 1896, but land was pegged twenty five miles on either side of the road. Although the Mazowe district area was rich in agricultural land, the white settlers had only established mines and huge citrus estates in the Mazowe Valley by 1895. In the Marondera district white settler farmers had occupied land by 1895.

“Between Wedza and Mangwende, farmland totaling about two million acres was occupied almost everywhere. Close to Marondera town, by 1896 farms were demarcated and occupied within a 15-mile radius from the city center, with a total land area of about one hundred and seventy acres. In Manicaland, chiefs Makoni and Mutasa saw their huge territories of land pegged and two hundred and twenty four farms established by 1895 covering an area of nearly one and half million acres.

“The occupation of the native land by the white settlers in 1896, can be disaggregated as follows, Matabeleland eight and a half million acres, mainly in the Ndebele heartland high veldt and in Mashonaland, seven million three hundred thousand acres were “occupied” mainly in the Fort Salisbury, Umtali, Fort Victoria, Enkeldoorn, Melsetter and along the entire spine of the Mashonaland high veldt up to Umtali. More ‘occupation’ was to come after 1896, faster than before with physical eviction of the native blacks from their land. The Ndebele people had lost nearly two hundred and ninety thousand cattle, representing two-thirds of their herd. About two hundred thousand of these looted cattle were sold in Johannesburg and Kimberly by mid-1894.

“These are the earliest events of the land occupation in this country following the entry of the Pioneer Column into this country. These unfortunate events took place within the first few years of the arrival of the white settler, a period stretching less than ten years. Although the early white settlers largely came from South Africa, about 70 to 80% of them were of British origin. Because of this land grab explosion, few chiefs were able to retain any land for their people. The 1896 uprising was a direct resistance to this capitalist land grab or stealing.

“Following the brutal land seizures of 1893, three years later, the Shona and the Ndebele were up in arms against the ‘foreign white settlers’ who had violently taken their land. This revolt was the First Chimurenga that you would find in many History books on this country recorded as the Shona and Ndebele uprising. In reality it was a war of liberation lead by the legends that include Lobengula, Nehanda and Kagubi.

“The First Chimurenga was finally put down by ‘foreign white settlers’ in 1897, after much native blood had been shed. Of course a few whites were also killed. After that decisive victory, the white settlers enacted a series of legal instruments to grab more land from the subjugated natives. Interestingly, in the eyes of the British Crown and its allies today it is the blacks that are grabbing the land from the whites. They conveniently disregard the brutalities visited upon the people of this land during the colonial era that resulted in the natives losing their land that they are reclaiming today.

“But that is beside the point. It is important to recall that in 1889, the Lippert Concession Act which preceded the actual occupation of Zimbabwe in 1890 encouraged the BSAC to buy concessions in Zimbabwe from the British Crown that was the colonial overlord. The revenues accrued from the purchases of concessions were then repatriated to the British Treasury in London. The native population, the original owners of the land, got nothing! Basically the British Crown was profiting from the buying and selling of stolen property.

“In 1898, another act, The Native Reserves Order in Council created the infamous Native Reserves in which black people were quarantined in reserves much like the Europeans did in America and Canada with the Native Americans. But Zimbabwe’s Native Reserves were set up haphazardly in economically low potential areas that we know today as the ‘communal areas’. By 1914, white settlers who made a small proportion, about 3% of the population, controlled 75% of the economically productive land, while the black majority was forcefully confined to 23% of the land scattered into a number of Native Reserves.

“Again a quick overview of the historical events that followed the arrival of the whites in the country could help here. Following the abrogation of the BSA Company’s charter in 1923, Southern Rhodesia’s white settlements were given the choice of being incorporated into the Union of South Africa or becoming a separate entity within the British Empire. The settlers rejected incorporation, and Southern Rhodesia was formally annexed by the United Kingdom that year.

“After 1923, European immigrants concentrated on developing Rhodesia’s rich mineral resources and agricultural potential. When the white settlers were granted self-government in 1923 by the British Crown, the Southern Rhodesia House of Assembly created a legal framework for the allocation of land. The crucial legislation was the Land Apportionment Act of 1930. It was the first of a series of land apportionment acts that barred the native blacks from owning land outside the reserves, except in a special freehold purchase area set aside for progressive farmers.

“That Act, I think eventually went against the white settlers even to this day, given that the 1930 Land Apportionment Act formalized the separation of land between blacks and whites. The Act resulted from the recommendations of the Morris Carter Commission of 1925. The 1930 Land Apportionment Act effectively handed the fertile, high rainfall areas of the country to whites. It divided the land leaving the black majority with about twenty nine million acres, the Native Purchase Areas were apportioned eight million acres, the minority European Areas received a lion’s share of about forty nine million acres and the remaining land of about six million acres was unassigned with forests left to three million acres.

“Said in other words, the infamous act, demarcated land into three areas that comprised zones where only whites could own property; zones where only natives could own property; and the notorious tribal trust lands zones that were held in trust for the natives on a collective basis. One of the worst effects of the apportionment was the ejecting of the natives from land they had held for generations. As a consequence, by 1979 the white settlers, although making a minority proportion of the population, owned more than 70% of the arable land.

“I say this act went against the whites because in the final analysis, it created a segregated society, and the white settlers never quite integrated into the society they lived in. They have remained to this day as whites in Zimbabwe, rather than becoming white Zimbabweans well integrated in the larger society they live in. A visitor to this country will be forgiven to think that there are no white Zimbabweans in this country, because you hardly see them as part of the society. They have chosen to live a life of a segregated society.

“Fundamentally, The Land Apportionment Act excluded blacks from that part of the country that contained the best farming land, despite the fact that the black majority constituted over 95% of the population. The ultimate objective of confining the black majority to the poorest land was to subject them into poverty and then force and convert them into a source of cheap labour.

“This is confirmed by the fact that, about the same time, the Industrial Conciliation Act of 1934 banned Africans from entering skilled employment. Thus the black majority were effectively forced to work for mere subsistence wages on white farms, mines and factories in virtual servitude. In this manner, the state, through the control of black labour, subsidized the growth of white agriculture, mining and industry.

“Until 1980, Rhodesia was an internally self-governing colony with its own legislature, civil service, armed forces, and police. Although Rhodesia was never administered directly from London, the British Crown always retained the right to intervene in the affairs of the colony, particularly in matters affecting the native black Africans.

“In September 1953, Southern Rhodesia was joined in a multiracial Central African Federation with the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi) in an effort to pool resources and markets. Although the federation flourished economically, the black population, who feared they would not be able to achieve self-government with the federal structure dominated by White Southern Rhodesians, opposed it. The federation was dissolved at the end of 1963 after much crisis and turmoil, and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland became the independent states of Zambia and Malawi in 1964.

“While Zambia and Malawi became independent, the white settlers in Rhodesia, however, showed little willingness to accede to African demands for independence. In April 1964, Ian Smith replaced Winston Field as Prime Minister, who led his Rhodesian Front Party to an overwhelming victory in the 1965 elections, winning all 50 of the first roll seats.

“On November 11, 1965, after lengthy and unsuccessful negotiations with the British Government, Prime Minister Smith issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom. The British Government considered the UDI unconstitutional and illegal but made clear that it would not use force to oppose it. On November 12, 1965, the United Nations also determined the Rhodesian Government and UDI to be illegal and on December 16, 1966, the UN Security Council, for the first time in history, imposed mandatory economic sanctions on Rhodesia.

“In the late 1960s sporadic antigovernment guerrilla activities began in some parts of the country increasing dramatically after 1972, causing destruction, economic dislocation, casualties, and a slump in white morale. Following the April 1974 coup in Portugal and the resulting shifts of power in Mozambique and Angola, pressure on the Smith regime to negotiate a peaceful settlement increased. During that same year, 1974, the major African nationalists groups of the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), united into the ‘Patriotic Front’ and combined their military forces exerting more pressure on the white government.

“In 1976, the Geneva Conference was held with black nationalist leaders to negotiate a final settlement of the conflict following the Smith government’s agreement in principle to majority rule in Zimbabwe after bowing to external pressures that included sanctions, the guerrilla war and majority rule in the neighbouring former Portuguese territories. The Geneva Conference was a fiasco.

“To fend off increasing pressure for majority rule, on March 3, 1978, the Smith administration signed the “internal settlement” in Salisbury that provided for qualified majority rule and elections with universal suffrage. Smith signed the agreement with Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, and Chief Jeremiah Chirau. All the four signatories to this agreement are now late. The agreement was followed by elections in April 1979, in which Bishop Muzorewa’s UANC party won a majority and he assumed office on June 1. However, the installation of the new black majority government did not end the guerrilla conflict that had claimed more than 20,000 lives since 1972.

“Earlier in May 1979, the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's conservative government had taken power from the Labour Party. The Commonwealth countries impressed upon the new Conservative Government to address the situation in Rhodesia through fresh negotiations among the warring parties and the British in a process that would include the drawing of a new constitution, the holding of free elections and gaining of independence.

“That is when the British and the representatives of the Nationalists African Parties began deliberations on a Rhodesian settlement at Lancaster House in London on September 10, 1979. On December 10, 1979, “Zimbabwe-Rhodesia” reverted de facto to colonial status under the British Crown. On December 21, after three long months of serious negotiations and persuasions, the parties signed an agreement at Lancaster House calling for a cease-fire, new elections, a transitional period under British rule, and a new constitution implementing majority rule while protecting minority rights.

“It was during these negotiations that the British and the American Governments pledged to fund the land reform and the resettlement programme in Zimbabwe as you referred to earlier Muzukuru. It is well known that the negotiations almost failed on account of disagreements on the land question and were only salvaged on the strong promise to fund the land acquisition by the British and the Americans. Subsequently, elections were held from 27-29 February 1980. ZANU (PF) party won an absolute majority and was asked by the British Crown to form independent Zimbabwe’s first government.

“Looking at that history, it can be objectively concluded that the situation the country went through the last few years had its origin in the unequal ownership of land,” added Sekuru Nyahuye as he continued with his talk. “At the time of independence in 1980, like I said earlier, the colonial settlers who constituted a minority of the population, owned most of the land, while us the native blacks, who made the majority of the population, were made to live on marginal and unproductive land.

“The implications of that kind of land ownership were that as native blacks we could not meaningfully participate in the national economy because we had nothing. We did not own businesses, and the majority survived by working as seasonal workers on the farms of the white man while we irked a subsistence life from small land holdings on which we could not commercially farm or practice animal husbandry.

“You will recall that after 1990, though the subject of the land had been on the table since independence, as soon as the government called for a serious discussion on its redistribution the white farmers went wild. The government and the leadership of the time was rubbished, condemned and called racists and despotic dictators who did not care for the welfare of the people. To them, leaving the land in the hands of a few white farmers was democracy at its best and demanding the redistribution of the land was not caring for the welfare of the black majority.

“The more the government called for something to be done so that we the black people could get some piece of land which we could call our own, the louder the condemnation became. It is regrettable that even people one would have expected to know best about the historical injustices of this country would have preferred that the issue was left alone. They would have preferred that the land remained in the hands of the minority white farmers.

“But it would be foolhardy for anyone to think that after fighting a bitter war to reclaim our land, the people of this country would rather let the white farmers continue to occupy that land. In all fairness, that was just unacceptable. The white farmers had turned our land into ranches and estates on which they grew maize, sugarcane, beans, rice and wheat. They raised cattle, pigs, sheep and horses and we had nothing.

“Because they had accumulated wealth from the proceeds of our land, they went on to own companies, banks, industries and factories. They owned every facet that made the economy turn. During their reign of terror, they were the accountants, lawyers, doctors, and garage owners. They were the senior personnel in every government department as well as in every private business, and we the condemned blacks were porters, gatekeepers, cooks, drivers, farm and mine workers. We were condemned to work anywhere else where manual hard labour was the norm.

“From the day we occupied the first farm and went on to invade many more thereafter, the more bitter the white man and his media became and he began to dismantle his industries and manufacturing plants. They called for sanctions to be imposed on the people of Svosve. Of course sanctions everywhere where they have been applied they have never brought about a more beneficial political system. The most they have achieved is condemning people to perpetual poverty and untold suffering. There you are. That is the colonial history of this country,” said Sekuru Nyahuye concluding his long lesson on the troubled past of Zimbabwe. 


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1 pombiyadonha
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Anonymous user 3 years
I wish Mugabe had kicked the whitemans arse as early as the 80's.Black Zimbabweans would be miles ahead. They would be the pride of Africa and self sustaining. Congractulations to the people of Zimbabwe for having the best leader. Do not loose the freedom from colonialism he has made for you.
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