Sunday, February 12, 2006

Eddie Cross: 'Racist Rantings of a Senile Old Man'

Just this past week one of the old guard of Zanu PF, Didymus Mutasa, made a statement about the remaining white farmers who somehow have survived the agricultural holocaust launched by Zanu PF in 2000. He said far from considering allowing white farmers to come back and occupy their farms under leasehold arrangements, the State was bent on taking all land from white farmers.

We have about 600 of the former large scale commercial farmers still farming - many are dairy farmers where they still provide 90 per cent of the output of the industry, for some reason dairy farming is not an attractive option for the thugs in Zanu PF. Someone once said that to be a success in dairy farming you have to love your cows - that may be a problem for Zanu-PF, hate cows, that is another matter - that comes naturally! There are 200 or so large scale tobacco farmers trying to stay in the industry and this year they will grow 35 000 tonnes out of the 50 000 tonnes of tobacco expected to be grown and marketed.

The old guard of Zanu PF - the equivalent in Zimbabwean terms of the "survivors of the long march" in Mau Tse Tung's China - are now a shrinking elderly minority in the Party - still in control because of the Presidents position and influence and power, but now on their way out. Mutasa is one of those and is a particularly nasty bit of work. Right now he runs both the CIO and the Lands portfolio and of late has become a euro phobic racist of the worst kind.

This is a strange turn of events because there is no one in Zanu PF who owes more to the former liberal white minority who fought Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front all those years ago, than Mutasa. He was very much the protégée of Guy Clutton Brock who was a thorn in the side of the old Rhodesian government and who worked all his life for the rights of the black majority. Now Mutasa is probably a worse racist that the men and women who ran the Rhodesian government 50 years ago when he was just a young man growing up outside the capital city of Salisbury.

He is also not a very nice man in his personal life - he has prospered under Zanu PF patronage like all the others, lives a life of comparative luxury and knows no shortages. I traveled with the man on a flight to Europe in the late 80's and was disgusted at his behavior even then. His behavior on the plane was no advert for the government he represented.

African governments and human rights movements must acknowledge this aspect of the recent activities of the Zanu PF regime in Harare. I am one who has spent his whole life fighting racism in this country. I suffered for it under the Smith government and lost many good friends as a result amongst my community. My family also made sacrifices for our stand. Now I see no reason why we should stand by and be silent when those who have benefited from the struggles of the 20th Century espouse the very evils we fought against in the 60's across the world. Black racism against whites in Africa is no more acceptable than white racism in Europe or the USA against the minorities in those communities.

Mutasa also made a racist remark about the whites in the MDC - there are a
few of us, no more than a couple of hundred in a membership that runs to two
million. But Zanu PF continues to claim that we "run the MDC". Nothing could
be further from the truth; we sometimes wished we had a little more
influence. But we are in the MDC because we are committed to the principles
on which the Party was founded and we find a home in the MDC as white
Africans, which was never offered to us by Zanu PF. In his statement Mutasa
called us "Mabhunu", a derogatory term that has come down from the days of
the Boer farmers. If I was to use a similar term to describe him I am sure I
would find myself on the receiving end as a "racist".

The truth of the matter is that white Africans like myself have a right to be accepted as just ordinary citizens in African States. Regimes like the one that is in power here have no right to deny us that - it is our birthright or our right as adopted citizens. If that were not so then why should we demand the reciprocal rights of black migrants and their families in their own adopted countries?

It is also true that without security over assets no economic progress is possible. The question of title rights is not something to be protected by special agreements between countries on a bilateral basis but rather by the State as an obligation to its productive citizens. By denying white farmers those rights, the Zanu PF regime has undermined the rights of all farmers -including the 800 000 small scale peasant farmers in Communal areas and the 25 000 black commercial farmers on freehold land. That is why output has collapsed not only in the sectors previously dominated by large-scale white farmers but across the board.

The same principles apply to mining rights, to industrial assets and to private homes. If you deny these rights on a racial basis to anyone, you deny them to all. Any attacks on private property are an attack on all private property and will therefore constrain investment and savings and encourage capital flight. Most of the latter is no longer generated by fleeing white and Asian minorities but by black Zimbabweans who see no future for themselves or their families in a Zimbabwe governed by a self destructive Zanu PF minority government.

I think we can brush aside the remarks by Mutasa as the rantings of an out of date racist who will soon just be a bad memory. In the past month things have become so much worse here - shortages of food, fuel and electricity are crippling our ability to continue to operate. The regime simply has no idea as to what to do to halt and reverse the decline because anything they do will create the conditions they fear most.

Inflation in January went over 1000 per cent against January 2005 and shows no signs of slackening. At this pace soon, no one will be able to cope and changes will start to come. When that does, a trickle will soon become a flood and will wash away all the debris we have accumulated over the past 25 years. It was like that in South Africa, it will be no different here.

Hopefully we can then start to rebuil d our lives and our country.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 12th February 2006

  • << Home