While the Zimbabwean nation is in the throes of economic hardship, the Zimbabwean High Commission bemoans negative reporting from the Namibian and international media. New Era attempted to find out
By Catherine Sasman
Ambassador Zindoga, we hear a lot of negative things about almost every aspect of life in Zimbabwe. Can you tell our readers some of the positive aspects of Zimbabwe, and what the situation is like currently?
One of the most outstanding positive things that was done in Zimbabwe is that we have reclaimed our land after 100 years of struggling. We are utilising the land, contrary to what our detractors are saying, not forgetting that we have undergone seven successive years of drought. But right now we are busy mechanising the agricultural sector. The government has imported 500, if not more, tractors that have been given to the prospective farmers – both in the commercial and smallholder sector.
Furthermore, everybody in the region knows that Zimbabwe has done very well in terms of education. Zimbabwe has the highest overall literacy rate in southern Africa (90 percent), and also has the highest literacy rate among the school-going age group in Africa (98 percent). These statistics have just been released by UNESCO, which shows that Zimbabweans are beating their counterparts in the region. The regional average is 69 percent, with a regional adult literacy rate of 59.2 percent. This development has even prompted the University of Maryland in the US to honour Zimbabwe for its excellence in education. The Zimbabwean human resource development is unparalleled in Africa and is testimony of how much our government has put into this sector.
Namibia hosts many educated Zimbabweans who are helping to build this country. We are also training many teachers in Zimbabwe. There are currently about 300 teachers that have graduated.
And yet the land redistribution in Zimbabwe is seen to have collapsed into chaos. What would you say to that?
Of course, I will deny it. Our detractors – our erstwhile British colonialists, the Rhodesians and their kith and kin – who for 100 years ruled Zimbabwe would want to give that picture. It has not degenerated into chaos, but was done according to the constitution of the land.
We amended our constitution in 2000. In terms of the amendment, in terms of the land that we reclaimed, it states that the Zimbabwean government will compensate the so-called white commercial farmers who owned 65 percent of the productive land for all the improvements that have been done on the land. For the land itself, the British government is supposed to compensate these farmers according to the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement.
We have a two-tier system: a Model 1 and Model 2 system. The first model was to decongest the rural areas, which would involve the land acquired by the government to be divided into smallholdings.
The second model was for commercial farming. Anyone who wanted to become a commercial farmer regardless of colour or creed would apply to the government and show what they wanted to do; bearing in mind that most of the land was in the hands of the ‘white commercial farmers’. Many of these farmers were absentee landlords who were mainly from British origin in the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Many of these people would have 12 or 13 farms of about 300 hectares, with chunks of these lands not being utilised. They would leave these for speculative purposes. Agriculture would be practiced on just a small corner of the land.
That was 20 years after independence. It was still like that because of the Lancaster House Agreement, which was the only constitution in the region that stipulated that after 10 years of independence the land issue was not supposed to be discussed.
From 1990 to 2000 there were a lot of technicalities that needed to be worked out. The land issue was thus not properly addressed for the first 20 years [of independence].
That is why the people of Zimbabwe had to reclaim their land because the struggle had been about land – that was the central issue.
Would you say the land issue has been resolved successfully?
Yes, it was successfully done. Of course, there were hitches here and there, but don’t forget that it was a major national exercise. Zimbabwe was also not the only country to nationalise land. The rest of Africa and other Third World countries have done it.
Zimbabwe is first and foremost an African country, which is a peaceful paradise and politically stable since 1980 when it attained its political independence.
The struggle for economic independence is harder but it is attainable. The battle now is for the control and ownership of Zimbabwe’s natural resources.
Since 2000 the country embarked on its Third Chimurenga. We are saying ‘No’ to neo-colonialism, to be ruled by London though proxies.
Britain and its allies, before the Land Reclamation in 2000, were pronouncing that President Robert Mugabe ‘was the most pragmatic president’ and that Zimbabwe was the most democratic country south of the Sahara, in Africa. Zimbabwe was the silent fifth province of the United Kingdom.
Having reneged on the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement on the issue of compensation for the land that the British had stolen from us, in 1999 the Tony Blair administration internationalised a bi-lateral dispute and went on a demonisation campaign of not only the country, but the President, the ruling Zanu-PF and the people.
The Anglo-Saxons who, together with their allies imposed illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe have caused the so-called situation.
One has only to look at the US’s so-called 2001 Zimbabwe Democracy Act. It is an all-encompassing evil piece of legislation.
The Western countries have pronounced to the world that they are working hard to effect an illegal regime change in Zimbabwe. The country is facing economic challenges because it is under siege from the Anglo-Saxons.
Your government recently ordered a freeze on the prices of goods and services, which in effect is tantamount to reducing the economy to a command level. What was the rationale for the freeze?
The government’s intervention was very necessary. This is a struggle to detangle the stranglehold of 100 years on the Zimbabwean economy. The same so-called landowners are absentee landowners residing in Britain, America, Canada and New Zealand. The white commercial farmers were the same industrialists and manufacturers and produce by the proponents of ‘the regime change agenda’. Some of them have been paid to relocate to other countries by the British and their allies.
The illegal sanctions imposed on the country have the effect of destroying the country, like somebody being poisoned slowly.
Furthermore, Zimbabwe is not a fuel-producing country, and what has happened internationally in the fuel industry had affected Zimbabwe.
Your readers know that the Anglo-Saxons invaded and militarily occupied Iraq under false pretences. In Zimbabwe they are doing exactly the same.
They are executing a cyber and economic war under false pretences. Apart from using their weapons of mass deception (the BBC, CNN, and so on) they have even set up shortwave radio stations that churn out propaganda and fanning hatred along the lines of Rwanda Radio International that led to the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda in 1995. They are trashing our struggle for liberation and national heroes. Those stations which are in The Netherlands, in Britain itself, and the Voice of America, are broadcasting on a daily basis and urging the Zimbabweans to rise up against their democratically elected government and president.
We hear that the shops in Zimbabwe are virtually empty as manufacturers and retailers are failing to produce because of the slavish prices they have been compelled to charge. Your comments please.
As I have stated in this interview before, the same so-called landowners were the same industrialists and manufacturers. The blacks remained in the retail business. In fact, the facts on the ground are quite different. Most shops are operating as usual. I believe we have certain businesspersons with an agenda to bring down the government. These are the people who have resisted cooperating with government for reasons best known to them. government will be setting up people’s shops (retail) outlets to ensure there is enough for everyone.
Can you comment on reports that Zimbabweans are fleeing the socio-economic hardships en masse to find refuge in neighbouring countries?
A study concluded recently in South Africa by the University of Witwatersrand, a forced migration studies programme, has revealed that journalists have grossly exaggerated the number of people migrating from Zimbabwe to South Africa. Fabricated news reports have been used by sections of the so-called international media to pressurise the South African government into joining the British-led illegal regime change agenda.
It should be acknowledged that the sojourns are common all over the world and Africa in particular since the days of Wenela in apartheid-ruled South Africa when neighbouring countries, including Zimbabwe, were a pool of cheap labour.
SADC [Southern African Development Community] is currently working on a protocol of free movement of people. Zimbabwe’s detractors sought to claim that there is conflict in Zimbabwe.
Do you feel Zimbabwe gets unwarranted negative media coverage internationally and in Namibia?
Zimbabwe gets unfair media coverage particularly from Britain and its allies. I stated before, weapons of mass deception, Britain and its allies have used which are cyber wars (ICTs). The internet is awash with fabricated stories – BBC, CNN, Sky, including certain sections of the South African media – compete with each other on outright lies about the country. On Sunday September 9, a stupid story was run about how everybody has fled to South Africa, have died from HIV/AIDS, and the remainder massacred by President Mugabe. The children used in the story were not Zimbabwean children. The BBC juxtaposed the pictures from some other country. The same week thousands of Zimbabweans – young and old, ministers and ordinary citizens – converged in Beitbridge for a national gala in commemoration of the death of one of its fallen heroes, the late Vice President Simon Muzenda. Thirty-six musical groups entertained them.
I think the press in Namibia is polarised: some are for and some are against.
SADC recently met in Lusaka. What does the Zimbabwean government expect from the initiatives led by South African President Thabo Mbeki and the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Tomza Salamoa?
First and foremost Zimbabwe appreciates and welcomes the SADC initiatives, solidarity and support rendered by SADC, Africa and all progressive nations of the world. The 31st March Dar es Salaam’s SADC Extraordinary Summit mandated President Mbeki to mediate between Zanu-PF and the British-created opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The Summit also mandated SADC’s Executive Secretary, Dr Tomza Salamoa, to study the impact of the illegally imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe’s economy.
President Mbeki and Dr Salamao in Zambia reported on the progress so far achieved. He reported that the talks between Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions – they have split into the faction supporting Morgan Tsvangirai and another led by Professor Arthur Mutambara. It is an on-going exercise. It is not yet complete, but as far as President Mbeki was concerned, the talks went very well.
The August Lusaka SADC Summit mandated the SADC ministers of finance to use the reports and the Government of Zimbabwe to draw up an economic plan to support Zimbabwe.
How can the political situation in Zimbabwe be resolved?
The question is misleading because it assumes that there is a political problem in Zimbabwe. This is not the case. There is no political situation in Zimbabwe. The Zanu-PF derives its mandate to govern from the people of Zimbabwe.
Last year, the chairperson of SADC, President Mogae of Botswana, at the SADC Summit said the cleanest elections in the region had been held in Zimbabwe. So, there is no political situation in Zimbabwe.
By next year Zimbabwe will have harmonized elections – the presidential and general elections in one go. Right now there is a Bill that is going through Parliament to amend the constitution – the Constitutional Amendment Number 8 – for the elections.
In March [next year] the truth of Zimbabweans will speak. And the region knows that. Africa knows that.
Different parties are starting to talk to their supporters in preparation for the elections. The ruling party will have an extraordinary congress in December to endorse its presidential candidate – President Mugabe, which the party from the grassroots level has said they want to have.
What are the current problems in Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe is being punished for its quest for economic liberation. There are illegal sanctions imposed on the country. For the past seven years Zimbabwe has not received any balance of support payment from the IMF [International Monetary Fund]. It has therefore been surviving on its domestic budget.
I should also say that that kind of liberation does not come on a silver platter.
While the West maintains that the sanctions are targeted, let me explain to you how they have affected the country. In 2001 the United States promulgated the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act.
That enactment empowered the president of the US to instruct US representatives heading international multilateral lending institutions (IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank) to deny the Zimbabwe government access to funding until ‘the rule of law has been restored to Zimbabwe, including respect of ownership and title to property and to end to ‘lawlessness’. The Act therefore advocates to interfere in the supply chain of food. Pharmaceuticals, petrol, electricity and access to basic necessities.