This morning, the internet had a story that told us that just 3% of farmers had been compensated for the loss of their land.
Before we can actually comprehend what that 3% represents, we have to remember that Mugabe and ZANU PF will only pay compensation for improvements to the land - nothing more.
But a fair percentage of the land taken by Mugabe was purchased since independence by the commercial farmers after his government had declared 'no interest' in developing the land.
Then it must also be borne in mind that the compensation paid will be based upon figures arrived at by a ZANU PF appointed assessor who, reportedly, undervalue the land by as much as 90% and then, consequently, the improvements thereon.
Any compensation for the land itself is to be paid for by the British government. Well, that is what Mugabe wants - but he wants that money to be channelled through his government - so he can plunder it just like he has done with any other money that has been detoured via his government.
But let's not concentrate on supposition. Just 3% in nine years - even based upon the ZANU PF undervalued assessment - is a few shillings only.
I remember reading an article quite a few years ago where it was reported that evicted farmers were pressured into accepting the reduced payments because they had been rendered paupers by the evictions and needed the money to stay alive!
Mugabe will, no doubt, wear the 3% as a badge of some merit, telling the world that his administration has paid that much without the assistance of the former colonial power. In reality though, the monies so paid - and I find it quite annoying that the article has failed to quantify the 3% - a far less than the true value of any improvements to the land.
And that some of the farms that were forcibly taken over, were valueless even after independence, and it is only the work of the commercial farmers that have endeavoured to make that land worth something.
To declare no interest in the land until such time as the commercial farmer has developed it into a project that is worth something, not only to the farmer, but to the country as a whole, is tantamount to theft - especially if the 'compensation' is a mere fraction of the investment on the land, let alone the initial financial outlay to purchase the land!
I, personally, understand the need for the land appropriation, but would certainly have preferred that it be done properly without any violence, abductions or deaths. Mugabe is steadfast in his claim that Britain should pay any compensation, but is also ignoring the basic rule of law in Zimbabwe by allowing the land grab to take on such a tragic environment.
We should also remember that it is not just the commercial farmer that is rendered without a farm, a livelihood and a home when these enforced evictions take place. The farm workers are also rendered jobless and homeless when the farmer is thrown off, as the new 'owner' has no requirement for workers who sided with the 'bloody whites' (Mugabe's words, not mine) - not to mention how the country is affected by the loss of the farm's production which is for either domestic use or the export market.
Land appropriation is one thing, a 'land grab' is another thing entirely
- and Mugabe may profess to be conducting the former when he is really perpetrating the latter.
Robb WJ Ellis
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