Zimbabwe’s Agrarian reform had great implications on the scope, nature and character of international politics. The reform had shown that finance is not always a pre-condition of fulfilling national policies, solutions to problems are plural and there is no a one size fit all in addressing resources distribution as proposed by the World Bank.
Resource ownership by indigenous people in Africa is a direct challenge to United States’ foreign policy (its economic survival) and the human rights issue has subjective interpretation in international politics depending on the circumstance at hand. The essay seeks to critically examine the statements which were boldly noticed during the agrarian reform in Zimbabwe taking into account the responses by other international political players as it unfolded.
The case of Zimbabwe’s agrarian reform shows that even without enough international financial support a country can successful implement a policy of great national interest and address the racial disparities inherited from colonial government.
It must be noted that the Second Chimurenga was premised on land reclamation for the majority blacks, the Lancaster House Conference reached an impasse on the basis of the land issue so to be precise the land from time immemorial was an issue and remained an issue even after independence and therefore no matter the delays it needed to be addressed.
Comparatively from 1980-1997 the government managed to resettle 62000 families against a target of 162000 families using funds from US,UK and the donor community on the tiresome market based agrarian reform; on the other hand from 2000 to 2002 the government managed to resettle more than 162000 families without any financial sprucing from the treasury as noted by Chitsike(2003).
So based on the number of beneficiaries of the land reform’s two phases it’s quite an acceptable argument that a policy can see its day even without international financial assistance. Communities can therefore curve their fate and fulfil their long held desire without hordes of the dollars as experienced during the execution of the agrarian reform in Zimbabwe.
Prescriptions by the World Bank for a market based land reform needs a facelift after realising the success of a more socialist and radical approach in addressing the land accessibility issue in Zimbabwe. As noted by Perreira (2007) the World Bank advocates for market-based agrarian reform despite the fact that it’s slow in bringing about radical change which is progressive development thinking and realisation of equitable rural development.
The World Bank, NGO’s and other pro-liberal institutions have become apologetics and are advocating for a monopolistic way in addressing agrarian issues. These westernised institutions are adamant to accept the organic nature of the world and the plurality of means to reach a common end despite the fact that countries like Korea, China, Albania, Iran, Cuba and many more were able to realise quick wins in agrarian equality and equity using the communist approach to land question.
The agrarian reform result of Zimbabwe from 2000 following vindicates the view that it is not the market-based approach alone which can bear the intended end. Zimbabwe agrarian reform therefore has brought and should bring about a spirit of tolerance in addressing issues with colonial connotation; it is true that the reform was racially segregating in nature but international players must accept it as an affirmative measure to address the despicable racial imbalances of the past.
Moreover, the land reform which in Mugabe’s eyes was a step in achieving real independence proved to be one of the direct challenges to United States’ foreign policy and Zimbabwe needed to be punished for crossing the line. Chingono.H (2010) pointed out that ZIDERA Act of 2001was put into being soon after noticing a tendency by the Harare administration going radical on land reform.
Based on the timing of sanctions with adjectives it is clearly noticeable that Zimbabwe was being economically terrorised for failing to stick to the willing-seller and willing-buyer approach of land reform. North Korea and Iran were countries under sanctions and adding Zimbabwe in this list was a big statement; North Korea and Iran had projects on nuclear weapons and Zimbabwe’s quest for self determination and resource ownership proved to be a threat especially if all third world countries could have followed the suit.
Chenga(2009.p6) noted that Zimbabweans were punished so that they can dump Mugabe, the land reform and possibly to make the agrarian reform uninspiring to other countries after its failure to bear favourable results.
Furthermore the agrarian reform of Zimbabwe was an awakening call to third world countries towards the view that true independence can be real if the indigenous people have control on their Godly given resources.Accordingly the ZANU-PF led government adopted the ‘land is economy and the economy is land’ slogan to stress the centrality of economic independence towards the realisation of real independence as put forward by Chitsike (2003, p9).
The land reclamation was central to the liberation struggles of Zimbabwe and the government was supposed to keep the promise of giving the land back to its rightful owners or risk being dumped; the land was reclaimed, the end was achieved and Zimbabwe got applause from subscribers of pan-Africanism.
The agrarian reform in Zimbabwe was not consistent with best international political player and therefore it have to intervene for the sake of civilisation. According toUS congress Records as the international police the U.S has to intervene in any country when the principles of democracy, rule of law and human rights are at stake.
Circumstances in international politics during and after the agrarian reform shows that the self professed global police believe that they are the only source of lectures in socio-economic policies, their way of life is the ultimate copy to be replicated everywhere and like the dictator Hitler America is always right.
Chenga (2009, p6) noted that United States’ hegemony and over reliance of the world financial industry on the petroleum dollar has left US as a demigod whom any nation should emulate and listen to. Recently, when US extended sanctions on Harare, the European Union followed suit clearly showing the supremacy of US principles in shaping even the EU’s international relations with Zimbabwe.
Moreover, the agrarian reform in Zimbabwe clearly pointed out the bias shared by international NGOs on issues to deal with human rights. The Human Rights Watch became vocal on rights abuses when the whites were being evicted from the farms but none of them were heard making noise on the over-crowdedness of communal areas.
The experiences show the skewedness and lack of purpose on the part of NGO in addressing issues of rights without favour. The saying that the payer determines the play becomes vindicated and it is quite noticeable that money matters in international politics in fact money is the law. Impliedly in international politics the jungle law rules; it’s survival of the fittest and inhalation of the weakest.
The issues of human rights have got a subjective definition in international real politics. Fowale (2010) quoted former US ambassador to Zimbabwe MR Howard who pointed out that Zimbabwe was not respecting property rights (land) and do not respect human (minority) rights. Legal questions like can anyone profess his/her rights to own stolen property are ignored as peripheral and of no importance.
When Mugabe was pro-liberal between 1980 and 1995 he was a darling of both the EU and US the issue of human rights abuses came at the forefront after the commencement of the fast track land reform, this abrupt shift signals centrality of national interests in international politics. Fowale (2010, p9) quoted the then US ambassador saying, ‘’… everyone felt that they have invested something to the success of Zimbabwe so when it (land reform) all started unravelling everyone felt personally disappointed”; so taking into account this sentiment it is true that the human rights abuse issue is but a smokescreen the truth is on national interests.
Zimbabwe agrarian reform brought about the stand-off between the once darlings in international trade and investments. The RBZ report on land reform of 2006 indicates that from 2001 financial assistance from the World Bank,IMF and AfDB were suspended and the US through ZIDERA committed itself to vote against any lines of credit towards Zimbabwe.
Based on this it is quite clear that the north has not dumped its neo-colonialism tendency of giving Africa the room to vote but without control on their economies, this horse- rider relationship is still ringing some sense in the capitalists’ corridors of power. The implication is that the third world countries should enjoy political rights but should never attempt to challenge the status quo through national assets redistribution.
Furthermore, though undeclared the United States and EU’s actions in response to the land reform show their long held tendencies of treating Africans as lesser beings with lesser capabilities on self determination. It shows their real character as eugenics and their greater allegiance to Nazism especially when dealing with Africans.
As noted by Wutawunashe (2011, p43-56) the Aryan race still believe on their exceptionalism as Hitler did in Germany to the extent that they remained silent when the 1% of the population owned 75%of the arable land of the then Rhodesia and when the 98% took their share of the arable land during the agrarian reform they labelled them as abusers of the rule of law. To this respect it is quite clear that the international politics is still shaped on a discriminatory manner were race determines the rationality of any national policy taken.
Moreover, the agrarian reform undertaken by Zimbabwe showed the great will by the north to perpetuate the status quo where Zimbabweans will celebrate the independence without being independent. Any efforts to cut the navel of neo-colonialism through self sustenance and control of resources by Africans is like poking the nose of the north who survive by controlling the south’s resources through subtle means as noted by Nkurumah(1965, pp14-18).
In conclusion the agrarian reform by Zimbabwe made many grasp the scope, nature and complexity of international politics. The terrain favours the powerful states who rely on their capabilities to use economic power to influence policy choices and outcomes. The reform also showed that money is not the determinant of policy success; political will and the ego to dare the cold can move mountains in international politics.
The might is right adage is dominant in the political arena internationally and the U.S and E.U still subscribe to the Nazi principles of a race which is superior in thinking and ideas thereby assaulting principles of rationalism and equality which they purport to champion more so this serves as an example to Africans countries on the best practices to implement land reform policies.
Chenga,G. (2009), Sanctions neither smart nor Targeted. The Herald.16 March. Page 6.
Chingono, H.(2010), Zimbabwean Sanctions: An Analysis of it ‘LINGO” guide the perceptions of the sanctioners and sanctionees in African Journal of Political Studies and International Relations. Vol 4(2) Feb 2010.
Chitsike,F. (2003), A Critical Analysis of the Land Reform Program in Zimbabwe.2nd FIG Conference. Marrakech, Morocco, Dec 2-5.
Fowale, T.(2010) Zimbabwe and the Western Sanctions: Motives and Implications. American Chronicle, 9 Jan, pp 9-11
Nkurumah,K.(1965). Neo-colonialism: The Last stage of Capitalism. New York. International Publishers.
Pereira,J.M.M.(2007:pp21-49), The World Bank’s ‘Market- Assisted’ Land Reform as a Political Issue:Evidence from Brazil 1997-2006. In European Review of Latin America and Carrebean Studies. Vol 82.
Wutawunashe,A. (2011)Dear Africa: The Call For African Dream.USA. Xilbris.
Shingirai Nyahwa is a blogger currently a student at the Midlands State University in Gweru Zimbabwe were he is a major in Politics and Public Management and has a keen research interest in African Public Policy .