Independence: Taking back our Zimbabwe


Independence: Taking back our Zimbabwe

As Zimbabwe celebrates its 31st birthday, it’s now almost fifteen years since Claire Short wrote that infamous letter that saw Britain refuse to fulfill a commitment to pay for the land redistribution from white farmers to black indigenous Zimbabweans. In the letter to Zimbabwe's Agriculture and Land Minister, Kumbirai Kangai, in late 1997, she wrote, 'I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and, as you know, we were colonized, not colonizers,' she wrote.

In essence what the British were saying was that the past is the past, that the past was done with and Britain was no longer an imperial power and that Zimbabwe’s Liberation war was history. And as Zimbabweans we should get on with sorting out ourselves with no expectation of assistance from the British.

Land redistribution was the pillar of the Lancaster house agreement that brought an end to Ian Smith’s unilateral declaration of Rhodesian independence and the birth of a free nation, Zimbabwe in 1980. Our reason for celebration today. In essence, contrary to Clare Short’s letter, Britain did have a special responsibility, not only as a former colonizer but also mainly because it had failed to act against Ian Smith’s Illegal regime – making necessary a liberation war that cost thousands of lives many of whom have been exhumed from the deep mine shafts of Chobondo in Mount Darwin. All these people died because the British government refused to act against its own ‘’kith and kin’ in Rhodesia.

Given how things have turned out, I am sure if the British Government had a premonition of a future Zimbabwe in which Zimbabweans took their destiny in their hands and proceeded to redistribute land, Clare Short would have facilitated that the Zimbabwe government receive the money to buy back the land which was in the hands of white commercial farmers. The refusal by Britain to fund the land redistribution exercise gave Zimbabweans an impetus to fulfill their own aspirations.

It is at this point in Zimbabwe’s history that we saw the birth of the MDC.

The MDC is a product of the aspirations of the white farmers that were directly affected by the land reform exercise. This political party was put together in order to reverse the gains Zimbabweans have made thus far by the former white farmers. Those farmers that had fled to Britain lobbied the British government through the Westminster foundation to fund the MDC party. In Zimbabwe, although white farmers accounted for only a small proportion of the party, they were highly visible as they were the ones with money and cars. They could be seen delivering propaganda material and running MDC offices. White farmers appeared on Zimbabwe television with Tsvangirai handing over fat cheques to party coffers.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Lloyd Msipa, Regency Financial Corporation | Attorney Advertising

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