Monday, October 13

Zimbabwe union warns of land grabs in South Africa

CFU President Doug Taylor Freeme said a law allowing South Africa's agriculture minister to seize land for dispossessed blacks was similar to a Zimbabwean law legitimizing the seizure of white-owned farms by President Robert Mugabe's government.

This has been a common theme in the debate over Zimbabwe. There are no doubt that people in SA would like to seize all property owned by 'white' people regardless of the source. It is just about the only coherent policy that the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) has been able to maintain.

The PAC has however less then 1% of the vote (down from just less then 5% in the 1994 election). The PAC will in fact probably cease to exist after the next election, joining the HNP, their white counterpart, in blissful obscurity.

Mr Freeme would also have you believe that what is happening in Zimbabwe is about white against black and about land. It isn't. It is about power. Specifically Robert Mugabes power. Mr Freeme is playing the same race game Mr Mugabe has played from the beginning. His audience is Britain and white South Africans, and his target Mbeki.

Mr Mugabe targeted white people after 20 years in power, because that power was slipping. There was a land issue (White people had it, Black people didn't). There has been a land issue for 20 years prior to this, but Mr Mugabe chose to not do something about it. Now there is no land issue and no land.

The South African government is doing something about it. It slow, its painful, its expensive, but what Mr Mugabe should have done 20 years ago is happening in South Africa now.

The PAC has tried to stage farm invasion in SA. The police came and arrested everyone involved and that was the last farm invasion we've seen. In Zimbabwe, people were paid by the government to invade farms. Now they are paid to hunt down the opposition.

Can Mbeki stop Mugabe? I think so. Better diplomacy and a few days of closing the border would do wonders I think. Do I understand the political position Mr Mbeki is in? No I don't. Can I speculate? Hell, yes.

Firstly, SA is not going to send troops north. Not now, not ever! That would destroy the SADC. The SADC might authorize it, but every tin pot leader north of us will wet his pants. Politically the SADC is worth more to us then Zimbabwe. The same goes for closing the border, assassinating Mugabe, supporting a coup or helping the MDC.

Secondly, Zimbabwe isn't worth a lot to SA. The fact that it has collapsed has in fact made our political and economic domination complete. What in it for us? Not much. If the world rose up as one and condemned us for our moral ambivalence we might think about it. The French are still doing ok though, so I wouldn't hold my breath.

Third point. The ANC does not trust the MDC. Better the evil you know then the one you don't. At least they can trust Mugabe to do his shopping in Sandton. Mugabe gives Zimbabwe a modicum of stability to a country that has ceased to be. If he goes, who knows how many factions will be fighting it out.

Fouth point. SA has a list of priorities. On that list Zimbabwe fits in alphabetically. Transformation, crime, AIDS, poverty upliftment. These are priorities. All these are solved by one thing and one thing only. Money. Zimbabwe has none.

Result. Business as usual. Hope Mugabe goes away. Hope their can be a relatively peacefull transition. Hope no one notices us ignoring a tragedy we can stop. Make sure we get all the choice reconstruction projects.

Update: Ive added a link to the Zimbabwe opposition MDC. Want to help Zimbabwe? Help them help themselves. With the current exchange rate one US$ carries an extraordinary amount of influence, and the MDC has offices in both America and Great Britain.

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