Zimbabwe- Combined onslaught on white farmers and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC.
In October 2001, while Philip Chiyangwa, former ZANU PF MP for Chinhoyi, and Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo were addressing a meeting of farmers in Banket, Chiyangwa said: “… Anyone who supports the MDC will be eliminated.”
“The campaign of intimidation spread to factories, businesses and offices; even embassies and aid agencies whom Mugabe accused of supporting the opposition were caught up in the mayhem,”Meredith said.
Mugabe used the resulting white exodus to his advantage at a rally in March 2002, stating: “All of you gathered here can see that whites want us to be their slaves and they are now closing shops and factories to throw you blacks into the streets so that you can turn against the government.”
He blamed his government’s failures on white farmers and the white population in general. Since the violent farm invasions of 2000, which targeted white farmers their families and their farm workers, the State propaganda machine – combined with ZANU PF indoctrination campaigns have impacted significantly on the white population.
The fallout for the entire country has been devastating. From Independence in 1980, approximately 90 percent of the white population has left Zimbabwe ‐ many in a completely destitute state.
Of over 6,000 rural title deeds belonging to white people, fewer than 300 remain in the hands of white people. Of these almost all are in immediate jeopardy, and their occupants facing two years in jail for still being on the land.
No compensation has been available for more than 99 percent of these take‐overs. The consequences of Mugabe’s racial assault on white commercial farmers and property rights have impacted not only on the commercial farming sector but also on the entire agri‐based economy.
Unemployment has soared and food insecurity has become entrenched.
For the past 12 years, the international donor community has had to provide significant volumes of food ‐ up to half of the population in 2002 and 2007.
Health and education facilities have deteriorated, infrastructure has crumbled or collapsed and more than 25 percent of the black population is estimated to have left the country. According to leading economic researcher John Robertson, only 850 000 people are formally employed out of a 12 million population.
THE LANGUAGE OF VIOLENCE, INTOLERANCE AND DESPOTISM IN ZIMBABWE
In a report published by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (ZHR Forum) on 15 May 2007 and titled “Their Words Condemn Them: The Language of Violence, Intolerance and Despotism in Zimbabwe”, the ZHR Forum noted the following:
“Over the years, and particularly in the past seven years, leaders of the ruling party in Zimbabwe (ZANU PF) have made many statements, often at times when the ruling party has been under attack or has faced serious challenge.
It has used its control over the broadcast media to disseminate a constant stream of hate speech. “An analysis of these statements discloses the following characteristics of the ruling party:
It is deeply antagonistic to all opposition and dissent.
It is prepared to incite violence and vengeful action against its political opponents and critics.
It uses virulent language to condemn its opponents and critics, not infrequently stooping to racial and ethnic abuse, and the vituperation is aimed at intimidating and silencing these persons.
It persistently attempts to suppress the independent media.
“These statements constitute various types of hate speech. They were made at times when gross human rights violations were being perpetrated. Many of the statements incited these violations or sought to justify or condone them,” the ZHR Forum said.
Violations of the Prevention of Discrimination Act
The ZHR Forum noted in its report that “It is an offence under Section 6 of the Prevention of Discrimination Act to make any statements reasonably likely to encourage discrimination against any class of persons on grounds of race or ethnic origin.”
Despite this, President has continued to use the race card to generate racial tension. In 1992, Mugabe said that white farmers are “hard‐hearted, you would think they were Jews.”
Speaking at a party held in April 2002 to celebrate his election “victory”, Mugabe said:
“This was a difficult contest (i.e. the March 2002 Presidential elections) as [Ignatius] Chombo has said. It was the Whites who made the contest difficult. The Blairs. I am sure you saw how united the Boers were in what they saw as a do‐and‐die situation for them. We are the government and they can do nothing…”
Operation Murambatsvina ‐ 2005
The Zimbabwe government has continuously demonstrated that it believes it can operate with total impunity. On 19 May 2005, for example, and with no warning, the government embarked on a cynical and devastating operation to ‘clean‐up’ its cities.
The widely held belief is that it was designed to destroy the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party’s urban power base.
“It was a ‘crash’ operation known as ‘Operation Murambatsvina’ which (started in Harare and) became a nationwide demolition and eviction campaign carried out by the police and the army,” said UN Envoy Anna Tibaijuka in her report of July 18, 2005.26
“Popularly referred to as ‘Operation Tsunami’ because of its speed and ferocity, it resulted in the destruction of homes, business premises and vending sites.”
Tibaijuka estimated that some 700,000 people in cities across the country had lost either their homes, their source of livelihood or both. Indirectly, a further 2.4 million people were affected in varying degrees.
Hundreds of thousands of (mainly poor) women, men and children, including former farm workers, were made homeless, without access to food, water and sanitation, or health care.
Zimbabwean Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri justified the operation by saying: “We must clean the country of the crawling mass of maggots bent on destroying the economy.”
The strategy to eliminate the white commercial farmers has many parallels.
In September 2005, four months after Operation Murambatsvina began, Didymus Mutasa, then Minister for State Security and Land Reform, said:
“Operation Murambatsvina should also be applied to farms that are still in the hands of the whites. White farmers are dirty and should be cleaned out. The government will not hesitate to take their farms to resettle the black people who failed to get land during the distribution exercise. They (whites) are similar to the filth that was in the streets before Operation Murambatsvina.”
In a veiled barb against what he claims as the pro‐Western stance of the MDC, Mugabe commented at the funeral of a party stalwart on 4 May 2012 that some Zimbabweans “still think a white man is better than a black man.”
Not a black and white story – Blessing Miles Tendi
In an article published in The Guardian Newspaper (UK) on August 28, 2008 author and journalist Blessing Miles Tendi wrote: “Despite President Mugabe’s overt racism, (his) anti‐white politics has not aroused black Zimbabweans against white people.
“The only white man you can trust is a dead white man. “Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy.”
“Those are Robert Mugabe’s words,” quoted Tendi. “They are forever etched in modern African history as indicative of the anti‐white politics that took hold in Zimbabwe from 2000 onwards, when the Mugabe government proclaimed that Zimbabwe was for black Zimbabweans and Africa for black Africans.”
“Race was politicised to an unprecedented level and aggressive threats to the white community were carried out, namely the violent seizure of white‐owned commercial farms. White Zimbabweans were blamed for all of Zimbabwe’s problems. They were labelled racists and accused of working hand in hand with white Britain in funding and directing opposition politics in Zimbabwe.
“Whites were embraced as brothers and sisters at independence in 1980 because it was politically expedient. In 2000 they were disowned as the political necessities of defeating the burgeoning opposition MDC took centre stage. Mugabe rants and raves against white people and Britain yet he professes his undying affection and respect for the British royal family.
Indeed there is a lot about Mugabe that is British, from his accent to his dress code to his love for cricket. English remains Zimbabwe’s national language, 28 years after colonialism.
“The contradictions are starker with regard to the majority black population, which the Mugabe government has attempted to indoctrinate with its racist politics. Anti‐white politics has not aroused black Zimbabweans against white people.
“Even during the explosive land seizures phase, to a greater extent attacks on white Zimbabweans remained linked to state‐sponsored farm invasions and official pronouncements. Spontaneous nationwide populist looting, beatings and lynching of white people never occurred. Four white MDC members were elected to parliament at the height of the farm seizures.
“The Mugabe government’s “hatred” of whites has not filtered down to the average black Zimbabwean. Most black Zimbabweans are aware that the root cause of Zimbabwe’s problems is, ultimately, the Mugabe government. Blaming white Zimbabweans and white Britain will never wash this charge away. Black Zimbabweans see through it…”
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