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Author Topic: Zimbabwe's land myths exposed  (Read 8087 times)
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« on: May 15, 2012, 11:55:50 PM »

20 Apr 2012 00:00 - Percy Zvomuya

Percy Zvomuya examines a book that comes to some surprising conclusions about the country's so-called farm invasions.

Thirteen years ago the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, most urban Zimbabweans and the international media were shrill in their condemnation when peasants and war veterans, soldiers, public servants and elites invaded white-owned commercial farms. The Western media was hysterical in its criticism of Robert Mugabe’s “land grab” that had transformed Zimbabwe from a “bread basket” into a “basket case”.

It was in these charged and uncertain times that my father, a man who had somehow managed to remain apolitical and indifferent, sat me down and said words along the lines of: “My child, Mugabe might be a dictator. In fact, I do not care whether he stays or goes, but as far as the land issue is concerned, I think he has a point. I was already a young boy when the Rhodesian government moved us from our fertile ancestral land to this rocky wilderness. What Mugabe is doing is right. It is called justice.”

A few other people I knew, born in the 1950s or before, shared my father’s position. They were able to untangle the knots of the complex, confusing situation that unfolded daily. Given that April 18 is Zimbabwe’s day of independence, it is apt to revisit a book that looks at the truths and lies surrounding the land reform process.

Zimbabwe’s Land Reform: Myths and Realities (James Currey and Jacana, 2011) was co-authored by six scholars: Ian Scoones, ­Nelson Marongwe, Blasio Mavedzenge, Jacob Mahenehene, Felix ­Murimbarimba and Chrispen Sukume.

They write: “The story [about land reform] is far more complex than the generalisations of the media headlines.” Because Zimbabwe’s land reform fatally intersected with its nationalist politics, one had to be really astute and attentive to know what was going on. And right up to the present, apart from truisms and clichés such as “Uncle Bob is mad”, most people are not quite sure what really happened.

Full Article: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-04-20-zimbabwes-land-myths-exposed
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