The Zimbabwean president’s decision to pay white farmers who were displaced during the country’s land reform programme is tantamount to betrayal and poses serious questions to South Africa’s land question writes Fati Moalusi

December 21st 1979 when news of the Lancaster House Agreement were leaking out of radios of the less fortunate, the fortunate bore witness to history in re-writing as events unfolded live on their television screens.

History was re-written, and Zimbabwe’s path of retirement from unjust white domination was cleared. The settlement was not without drama. Reports paint a picture of negotiations marked by back and forth wrestling between Robert Mugabe and the United Kingdom, wrangling over the thorny issue of land restitution.

Mugabe’s outsized persistence on seeing redistribution of land through compulsory seizure without compensation sustained the back and forth entanglements to United Kingdom’s yield and acceptance of culpability to compensate white farmers for the inevitable land seizures.

It is not the rescinding of the Lancaster House Agreement by Tony Blair’s administration that yikes me, it is willingness of Mnangagwa’s administration to take the United Kingdom’s responsibility that I find exasperating.

Rescission of the Lancaster House Agreement by the United Kingdom made compensation of white farmers a dead horse and Mnangagwa has every reason to dismount it. Prescription laws of Zimbabwe are clear in absolving government from liability on injuries it caused over three years ago.

The Prescription Act dictates three years to be the general period for prescription for delicts, and where there are exceptions the law sets out periods not longer than six years. Legitimacy of Zimbabwe’s prescription laws finds support not only in the fact that most Commonwealth countries prescribe to similar periods of prescription, it also finds support in classical economics theory which champions the principle of Bygones be Bygones.

The United Kingdom relinquished its obligation to compensate white farmers and was unequivocal in its this, frankly stating that its moving forward as modern a state has no special responsibility to meet the cost of compensating white farmers for land lost to Zimbabwe.

They are a new government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. And as the new United Kingdom government they are not the colonisers. Perhaps Mnangangwa’s administration should be drinking from the cup of its colonial master and pronounce that they are a new administration free of obligations arising from Mugabe’s shenanigans.

July 29 2020, new times are furnishing us with a fallacy; Mnangagwa agrees to pay an undue R60 billion debt.  The turn of events sparked some excitement but only to the gullible. We cynics held on to our misgivings about Mnangagwa and believe us, time will vindicate us when truth about his  true intention is unmasked.

He’s shown to be an individual who possesses sadistic potentialities; greed, cruelty, selfishness and irrepressible are tattooed to his soul. It was under his command that thousands of Zimbabweans were butchered in Matabeleland back in the 1980s.

Unceremoniously, he urinated on the nation’s constitution to satisfy his desire to ascend to the presidency, applying methods suggestive of a tyrant. The world and the African Union might have turned a blind eye and sugar coated Mnangagwa’s military takeover as a soft coup.

I call a spade for what it is and ordain Mnagangwa to be a criminal recently reincarnated as Judas Iscariot to the Pan Africanist agenda. He gave in to imperialists who are inconsistent in demanding justice and are yet to hold the United Kingdom accountable for its breach of the Lancaster House Agreement. 

The thing about the world is that it is fair, we only get what we bargained for and the world has bargained for a constitutional delinquent who is on a path of dwarfing his predecessor’s human rights violations.

Sadly, complexities in Zimbabwe’s land reform are not serving as a lesson to South Africa, juxtaposing approaches on land reforms of the two neighbouring states does not spare the ANC from a need to adequately deal with the land dilemma which has a potential to implode.

Instead of paying sporadic lip service to the issue whenever circumstances, forces it to unbury its head in sand, the ANC should be courageous and admit to its shortcomings starting with its unjustifiable acceptance of the unjust concept of willing buyer willing seller.

Dispossession of blacks was never on the willing buyer willing seller basis, and failure to accede to this fact is denial of injustices of Apartheid. Consequently, failure to meet Apartheid’s injustices with justice only perpetuates the same white privilege of the unseen hand which compelled Mnangangwa to commit to paying an undue debt.

Fati Moalusi is an independent writer and Pan Africanist

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