Mugabe and the Continuing White Supremacist Narrative 268

Robert Mugabe makes an easy hate figure for the right wing media, and the cruelty, corruption and absurdities of the latter part of his overlong rule justify much of the hate. But the slightest analysis of the media expression of this hatred reveals it to feed a variety of British imperialist tropes which persist to an alarming degree into the 21st century – that Africans cannot govern themselves and were better off under white rule and even that black people cannot farm.

The justified criticisms of human rights abuses perpetrated by Mugabe very seldom recount the atrocities perpetrated by white rule in Zimbabwe. Mugabe himself was incarcerated without trial for over ten years, in dreadful conditions, merely for speaking out against the colonial government, a fact that must have had a major psychological impact. It is also worth emphasising that Mugabe was imprisoned without trial by the British authorities of Souther Rhodesia, before the declaration of UDI – a fact I struggle to find in any of the MSM obituaries.

The accepted narrative on Mugabe in power is that for over ten years he governed well, following western economic norms and rubbing along with the white population as though they were all fine English gentlemen together, notably patronising cricket and crucially making no effort to redress white economic privilege. Yet it was this “good” Mugabe who turned on the minority Ndebele tribe, massacring over 10,000 and ousting his Ndebele deputy, Joshua Nkomo (who had arguably contributed rather more to the liberation struggle). But as this did not especially annoy the IMF or compromise the interests of British American Tobacco, western criticism was very muted. To be fair, Mugabe’s government did make notable advances in education and in healthcare in this period.

Mugabe had to stop playing the English gentleman when popular discontent at the failure of Independence to improve the economic position of the ordinary Zimbabwean led to the unthinkable possibility of electoral defeat. The dual strategy of harsh repression of critics and a populist and highly corrupt programme of land seizures was a panicked response that ushered in two decades of spiraling decline for the country.

But consider this.

In Zimbabwe, as in highland Kenya, the sub-tropical climate was suitable for white colonists and their agriculture. All of the best arable land had been ruthlessly seized by white colonists from the African population. At the time of Independence, over half of the seizures and enclosures were still within the living memory of elders.

In Zimbabwe as in Kenya, a prime cause of the tribal conflict, in Zimbabwe principally between Shona and Ndbele, was that white land seizures had broken traditional boundaries and had forced migration of peoples onto each other’s land, the parcels of which unoccupied by white farmers were ever shrinking. For the west to sneer at African tribalism when brutal western settlers were at the root of much of the conflict, is ludicrous hypocrisy.

Land reform was, and is, essential in Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s tragedy was that his desire to ingratiate with Western elites led him to accept for far too long their insistence that the white colonists keep their massive land holdings. The popular demand for the land was a perfectly natural desire for justice. That there was no dynamic land reform programme for the start, and pent-up resentment was allowed to explode into an unplanned wave of violence, destruction and massive corruption, was Mugabe’s greatest failure. Mugabe saw in the resulting situation only opportunities for personal enrichment and to consolidate his power.

Land reform in both Zimbabwe and South Africa is an urgent priority. I do not accept the argument that because it was a white settler’s grandfather or great grandfather who seized the land, legally under racist colonial land grab legislation, that the descendants now have a right to it. I also do not accept the notion that Africans cannot farm. I discuss this subject quite extensively in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo (which almost nobody has read but I strongly believe is my best book). It is ironic that climate awareness now brings more of an acceptance that traditional African smallholder farming techniques, with their emphasis on intercropping, embody thousands of years of wisdom and are much more sustainable in Africa than the western monocrop techniques of clearing and leveling vast tracts and replenishing the soil through massive use of industrial fertiliser.

Robert Mugabe was a man who did terrible things. But he had suffered greatly in struggling against white rule and the great evil that was the imperial legacy in Africa. His life and memory must not be allowed to feed a racist meme of African cruelty and incompetence.


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268 thoughts on “Mugabe and the Continuing White Supremacist Narrative

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  • RandomComment

    Democracy: direct or representative 😉 I was a fan of Burke until how I saw this was being applied in the here and now

        • Hatuey

          That post is hardly an argument for Burke. Basically I’d say it’s a very pompous argument against referenda and it seems to quite openly suggest that ordinary people aren’t equipped to make political decisions.

          Burke is famed for his seemingly contradictory views on revolutions. I’ve studied his arguments on that stuff and I actually thought they were quite clever but wrong. I guess it’s about 200 years since he wrote that stuff and history since then has underlined how wrong he was.

          • RandomComment

            Without agreeing or disagreeing with the philosophy involved how would you juxtapose Craig’s statement I am decidedly with Edmund Burke on this issue., with your own claim?

          • RandomComment

            Here’s the thing Hatuey, I’d rather be bright enough to know I’m usually stupid, rather than stupid enough to think I’m usually bright

          • Hatuey

            Craig was specifically talking about the idea of referenda in that comment. It’s been years since I studied Burke but I think when Burke talked about direct democracy he had what we call full suffrage in mind and his argument against that was in favour of parliamentary democracy.

            Burke’s famous Reflections was about and against the revolution in France… he was against the stated ideals of the revolution and his attack on direct democracy was most likely a reference to the “equality” part and should be seen in that context.

            As I said, history has not been kind to Burke. His selective view of what constituted a good revolution and what constituted a bad one is entirely useless today and arguing against full suffrage and democracy as defined today, makes you look and sound (rightly in my opinion) like a crackpot.

          • Hatuey

            “I’d rather be bright enough to know I’m usually stupid, rather than stupid enough to think I’m usually bright”

            Ahhh Dunning-Kruger… Good luck with that. I think we are all equally dumb, if it’s any comfort to you.

  • Steve Ambartzakis

    Mr Murray, I regret that I cannot allow this screed to go unanswered. You claim (incorrectly) that for the first 10 years of his rule, Mugabe was a good leader. If butchering one’s opposition can be classed as being a good ruler then I would suggest that your vision is somewhat skewed (screwed?). Are you ignorant of the fact that he was the mastermind of the massacre of more than 20,000 Matabele between 1983 and 1987, or do you simply choose to ignore this in your blind anger for anything white in Africa? If this is the depth of your knowledge about the most infamous of African rulers of the last forty years then I must say that I am not surprised that the British Foreign Office fired you.

    • craig Post author

      Stephen Ambartzakis,

      I am going to say this as politely as I can, because it is quite possibly not your fault that you are so stupid and appear to have a reading comprehension age of 5.
      I did not say that he was a good ruler for the first ten years. I said that was “the accepted narrative” and then go on to argue AGAINST that view, including specifically:

      “Yet it was this “good” Mugabe who turned on the minority Ndebele tribe, massacring over 10,000 and ousting his Ndebele deputy, Joshua Nkomo (who had arguably contributed rather more to the liberation struggle). But as this did not especially annoy the IMF or compromise the interests of British American Tobacco, western criticism was very muted.”

      You now accuse me of “ignoring this” massacre. How the fuck did you get to be so stupid?

      • Tony

        Yes, it is worth bearing in mind that many leaders go through this sort of phase.
        It was only in 2003, with his opposition to the invasion of Iraq, that western politicians and media turned against Vladimir Putin.

        Yesterday, the Observer ran an editorial attacking him for what it claims was interfering in western elections.
        It quotes from a recent report from ‘the independent Center for American Progress’:
        “every indicator suggests that Russia will continue to be actively engaged in disrupting US democratic processes throughout the 2020 election cycle”.

        I hate to urinate on the Observer/Guardian’s parade, but I would point out that the Center for American Progress was founded by John Podesta who chaired Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential election campaign. And it was Clinton, who started of all this ‘Russia stole the election’ business for which there is little evidence.

      • Hatuey

        Good to see Craig being expressive like that. These are the sort of morons I need to deal with every day on here. A thankless task, I might add.

        The Mugabe stuff brings out the racist crackpots.

        • Wikikettle

          Hatuey. “Good to see Craig being expressive like that. These are the sort of morons I need to deal with every day on here. A thankless task, I might add.” —-NOT the case at all Hatuey. I and many, many of Craig’s readers, value your comments. I for one, lack your knowledge and elequence. We are grateful to you sir.

      • George Fellowsh

        How hilariously immature, fitting for someone of the level of rationality who could write the above article.

      • John2o2o

        Hmm, I quote Craig Murray:

        “The entire point of this blog is to ask you to consider different ways of thinking about things. I do not in the least insist or expect you to agree with me. But courteous consideration of the arguments is always welcome, even where opinions sharply differ from mine.”

        Perhaps you would care to explain to this 5 year old what is so courteous about the phrase:

        “How the fuck did you get to be so stupid?”

        it only encourages them Craig when you come down to this level. It may be fine to speak like this in what you might consider to be the interests of free speech, but this sort of crude language is not acceptable to everyone.

        This from childline:

        “Cyberbullying is not against the law, but harassment or threatening behaviour is. Being made to feel upset or scared can include someone sending nasty or offensive messages to you or about you.”

        I am of course an adult, but I could potentially be a precocious child. I would ask you to moderate your own language. I don’t think it’s clever. The messages I have received from two individuals in recent weeks I would consider to be nasty or offensive and were certainly upsetting.

        I am a private individual. I am not a professional writer and I am not a politician. So I maybe don’t always put my point across well. I can understand you being upset by Mr Ambartzakis’ provocative comment regarding your employment, but you are in charge here. You should lead by example and moderate your language.

      • MrK

        ““Yet it was this “good” Mugabe who turned on the minority Ndebele tribe, massacring over 10,000 and ousting his Ndebele deputy, Joshua Nkomo (who had arguably contributed rather more to the liberation struggle).”

        The use of genocide for propaganda purposes has been part of the MDC’s platform from the start.

        It is not very clear how many people died, and who actually was responsible for it (although the rhodesians will automatically scream The North Korean Trained 5th Brigade!).

        This is an interesting article by Charles Rukuni:

        Also, the situation in Zimbabwe was worsened because Zimbabwe and South Africa did not become independent at the same time, and the apartheid government had 14 years to ‘stir things up’.

        From the Catholic Commission’s March 1997 report:

        On the murder of white farmers in the 1980s:

        “Its seems likely that most of the multiple murders and ambushes were committed by a few bands of dissidents, while the rest of the dissidents confined their activity to petty crimes. For example, on 5 October 1983, The Chronicle reports the arrest of a gang of 5 dissidents, part of a larger gang which is linked to the murders of twenty eight commercial farmers and their families: these murders occurred in Gwanda, Bubi, and Nyamandlovu, and included the murder of Senator Paul Savage. This latter murder was attributed by D. Martin and P. Johnson to Super ZAPU on ballistic evidence, which in turn implies that these 28 murders may all have involved Super ZAPU.”

        Colonel Jan Dirk Breytenbach (brother of Breyten Breytenbach), co-founder of the SA Special Forces, Super ZAPU pseudogangs and Operation Drama:



        “Operation Drama” was the South African code name for the undercover support of Zimbabwean dissidents. It was carried out under the direction of Col Moeller and Col Jan Breytenbach.
        Operation Drama’s primary role was the formation and funding of “Super ZAPU”. This was a small band of dissidents, recruited from refugee camps in Botswana and trained in four camps in the Transvaal. Super ZAPU operated in southern Matabeleland in 1983 and 1984, exacerbating the security situation already in existence. Precise numbers of Super ZAPU and the degree of material support offered by South Africa to Zimbabwean dissidents remain largely conjecture, although it is clear the Zimbabwean operation was far less extensive than those in Angola and Mozambique, which operated concurrently.

        Those interviewed about the South African involvement in Zimbabwe all commented that it is noteworthy that far less is known about South Africa’s military destabilisation policy in Zimbabwe than about its Mozambique or Angolan operations. The lack of available knowledge suggests that fewer personnel were entrusted with information about “Operation Drama”, which in turn suggests that the Zimbabwean operation was not only smaller, but regarded as more highly sensitive.


        South Africa’s policy of simultaneously destablising Zimbabwe by military means, while blaming ZAPU for the actions of South African agents whenever possible, helped escalate the irrevocable breakdown between ZAPU and ZANU-PF in the early 1980s. This in turn led to the decision of Zimbabwe’s Government to retain the State of Emergency throughout the 1980s, and more significantly, to impose massive troop numbers and restrictive curfews on Matabeleland.”

        The Catholic Commission report on how many people died:


        The figure for the dead and missing is not less than 3000. This statement is now beyond reasonable doubt. Adding up the conservative suggestions made above, the figure is reasonably certainly 3750 dead. More than that it is still not possible to say, except to allow that the real figure for the dead could be possibly double 3000, or even higher. Only further research will resolve the issue.”

        And it would be nice if someone could cite that further research. This paper was from March 1997, about events in the 1980s.

    • Courtenay Barnett


      “blind anger for anything white in Africa?”

      Recall, for starters, the Belgians in Congo. A wonderful civilizing mission of course.

      Let’s be fair with Craig Murray. Read him in context; no one is saying that mistakes were not made by Mugabe.

      Consider the US Presidents past and present for starters in the world’s greatest democracy; Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Libya – each had a war as a designated mark of ‘honour and dignity’ – and each has blood on the hands to account for.

      Does it help to say – Mugabe was not a saint – and so too is no one who wields and/or retains significant power.

      • Courtenay Barnett

        Oh Steve,

        I forgot to mention the carpet bombing of Afghanistan and then – before that, what happened with bombs and defoliants in Vietnam and across the way in Cambodia.

        Now, do you begin to get the point?

        Let’s debate the world’s rights and wrongs.

        For my part, I actually see former British diplomatic representative, Craig Murray, as actually a man of principle who stood up for what he thought was right. I have known, and do know, some diplomats. Not sure I can say they would place in jeopardy, their job, for standing for what is right – especially if that meant you could be fucked in the job and in your chosen career.

        Nuff said mate.
        Over and out for today.

        • joel

          You also forgot the repeat nuking of Japanese civilians; natural progress for a liberal democracy built on the enslavement and genocide of differently coloured peoples.

  • Vinnie Pooh

    Ah, that explains absolute lack of mention of Ndebele genocide on BBC articles when he died.

    However, I have to point out that his “land reform”, when it happened, was absolutely catastrophic. And it was clear to everyone in advance that it would be catastrophic. So excuse me, there is no excuse for that (pun intended).

    I have been to Zim and have quite a few Zim friends, all white, I have to admit. They absolutely hate him for his economic policies, he simply took the country under. But my black African friends from SA have no love or respect for Bob whatsoever, for the same reason.

        • Courtenay Barnett


          Odious and abhorrent by design, I would say mate.

          Consider these prescient words of the US architect of the ‘Cold War’, George Kennan:-

          “Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented.”

          So, by design, with will and consistently applied force – be that force in the international community be designated ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ – the US and NATO march on.

          • Brianfujisan

            Well Said Courtenay.. And there is the ongoing genocide of Native American ( first Nations ) women

          • Steve Ambartzakis

            Courtenay, I have long felt that the United States, or the people who control the politics there, are really evil when it comes to their treatment of people in the Middle East. However, not matter what depths Mr Murray decides to stoop to, the butchering of more than 20,000 people cannot be classed as a peccadillo! Nothing that the colonial powers did in Africa is excusable (the Belgians were particularly disgusting in the Congo), that being said however, it would be useless to rail against what the British did to the Boers between 1899 and 1903. We live with 4 million Zimbabwean refugees from the Mugabe era, educated, hard working decent people and when anyone attempts to whitewash (bad word I guess) the tyrant Mugabe it really makes my blood boil. An interesting statistic for you, Mugabe spent his last 150 days in an exclusive hospital in Singapore at a cost of about twelve million rand how much better would that money have been applied to his suffering people?

          • giyane

            Steve Ambartzakis

            Blood boiling is probably.down to somebody removing your psychological prop of Black whatever the opposite of supremacy is.

            I’d see a shrink if I were you.

      • Republicofscotland

        Speaking of Afghanistan, Trump was going to have a very secret meeting with all the Taliban leaders and the president of Afghanistan at Camp David, yes Camp David in America, on American soil.

        It was cancelled, however Trump probably wanted to tells his Taliban buddies to make sure the poppy fields dont get damaged as we’re making an absolute fortune from them.

  • Sharp Ears

    Comment here from his nephew Leo Mugabe.

    ‘Imagine people you trusted – people that were guarding you, looking after you – [turning] against you. He was very bitter and it dented his legacy, he told the BBC from his uncle’s rural home. It was not an easy thing for him to take,” he added.

    Robert Mugabe died a ‘very bitter’ man, nephew says

    The funeral takes place in Harare on Saturday.

  • michael norton

    South Africa is as bad as Zimbabwe these days, lack of tolerance
    South Africa: Two dead in new bout of mob violence

    It began after a speech in the commercial hub Johannesburg by a veteran politician, who was trying to quell tensions over xenophobia.

    Mangosuthu Buthelezi was heckled by a rowdy section of the crowd on Sunday, who later clashed with security forces.

    Ten people, including two foreigners, were killed in the city last week when mobs attacked foreign-owned businesses.

    The trouble led to diplomatic tensions with other African countries, most notably Nigeria.

    No white people involved.

    • michael norton

      “dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries”

      Can a Black South African be racist against a Black Nigerian,
      I have no idea but it is probably partially about people from other countries coming into your country and taking your jobs or just being seen to be doing better than you.
      Like the Germans not liking Jews doing better than them.
      I doubt real racism comes into it, it is not liking people from elsewhere coming into your area and be seen to be doing better than you and your neighbours.

      • N_

        To answer your first question, yes they can.

        Often xenophobia latches on not to the idea that incomers are doing better than those who have longer roots in an area but to the idea that incomers are willing to accept what for the natives are low wages and poor conditions, putting the natives out of a job, and nowadays in the British context that they are not only willing but able to accept such conditions because unlike the natives they aren’t in debt up to their eyebrows. Also of course what is a low wage for a cleaner, a building worker, or an officer worker in London is a very high wage in Bucharest or Sofia.

        There is an answer to this problem, which is stronger trade unions that accept immigrants on the same basis as everyone else, and that actively recruit among immigrants, including (hey, let’s find a way of doing it) among illegal immigrants. If left wingers are not in favour of solidarity among working class people in struggle, I have to wonder what “left wing” might mean other than the consumption of focaccia and the belief in some old codswallop about climate change.

        If a main producer of xenophobia were resentment against richer incomers, then the post-1997 Hong Kong Chinese immigrants in Britain might for example be the target of intense dislike, which generally speaking they aren’t.

        • Bramble

          “solidarity among working class people in struggle” Well said. The enemies are the employers who manipulate their “flexible” (and vulnerable) workforce and those who tout a flexible workforce as key to a strong economy. We are all at their mercy and must stand together against them, resisting every effort to divide us and conquer. We are living with the consequences. The strong likelihood of a complete collapse of social democracy and the welfare state as the neoliberal carpetbaggers move in.

  • Jack

    Had Mugabe been pro-west the media would not cover his death like this.
    Equally, that the party Putin represent lost seats in the election is celebrated and somehow the Russian election is free and fair…hilarious hypocrisy.

    • N_

      Also at this time of “Brexit crisis” with a general election or plebiscite looming, it helps to have the face of a black man in the newspapers who is considered a very bad human being who didn’t properly “integrate” with honky objectives which are assumed to be all sweetness and light.

    • SA

      It is interesting that the main opposition party that benefitted from this downturn for united Russia were the communists, not the pro western parties. But of course this minor detail escapes the MSM.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I do not think that farming ability has anything to do skin colour, more to do with training and experience. However, taking land from skilled white farmers and giving it to unskilled black people guaranteed that the performance of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector would plummet. There is little evidence that South Africa has learned from that experience. Russia is less stupid and some skilled white South Africans are now going to farm in Russia….

    Another issue in Africa is that business power is not necessarily aligned to political power. South African TNCs are still run by those who comfortable under white rule, so they will not appreciate interference from black politicians. An election does not change all societal realities, it usually takes two or three generations.

    • N_

      Careful with the division you draw between business power and political power. Are there no black managers at Anglo American etc.? I haven’t looked at the top echelon. But those who control that company are comfortable with a black-majority government and they have been for a few decades now. Those who WERE comfortable with white rule would include the large majority of the white middle class in South Africa – or at least, those who are old enough. Some of them like to pretend they were some kind of silent dissidents when they were completely content with the obscenity that was apartheid and did zero to oppose it.

    • giyane


      So let’s have two or three generations of Corbyn Fair Trade.
      You’d probably have to genocide the entire middle and upper classes to get there, but it would be a good thing in the end. You are a breath of fresh air after an entire thread full of we told you so white supremacists virtue signalling over Mugabe’s crimes. Our whole economy has become a process of Big brother Conservatism , shooting down anyone who diverges from their ugly dogmas. This thread has been absolutely vomit-making.

      Incidentally the name Barez means ‘ Forward, prominent , manifest ‘
      And since we have a prime minister called Boris I was reminded of Pope’s ;
      The forward youth that will appear, must now forsake his muses dear.’

      Boris has ended a 75 year sleep where we dream about culture , justice, art and design.
      He swats it flat with talk of raw trade deals and other mercenary things.

      i don’t know who is his enemy, Us or the rest of the world.
      But I think it’s Us, not them.

  • Sharp Ears

    Craig. Please write about what has been happening in the ‘mother of parliaments’. Today’s list of ‘honours’ from May is the last straw.

  • michael norton

    Robert Mugabe has been as bad a leader for his country as could be imagined.
    The Land, the Fresh Water, the Climate , the Education of the People and the fantastic Mineral wealth
    have all been wasted by his bitterness. Forty years of Austerity and fear handed out to the people by a despot.

    • Bill Thomson

      As Uncle Arron said to me the other day, “The Whites must really hate us, they gave us Mugabe.”
      Thank you, Peter Alexander Rupert Carington, 6th Baron Carrington, KG, GCMG, CH, MC, PC, DL.

  • Iain Stewart

    “It is also worth emphasising that Mugabe was imprisoned without trial by the British authorities of Souther(n) Rhodesia, before the declaration of UDI – a fact I struggle to find in any of the MSM obituaries.”
    Try the foreign press. Libération says 11 years.

    • Bill Thomson

      It is said, Mugabe had his minor enemies dissolved in drums of acid.
      The more prominent died in car accidents usually involving a military truck, before being declared a National Hero of the Liberation.
      No wonder he didn’t want to be buried along with them at the National Monument of Heroes.

  • Mary Pau!

    Just to say, farming is like any other trade, it has to be learned. I might make a very good farmer but I would need training first. Not just in husbandry but in the economics of running a farm, managing staff etc. If Mugabe really wanted to empower black workers to take over large previously white held land ownings, they should have been given formal agricultural and financial training first.

  • Bill Thomson

    Oh thanks for the elders comment Craig, “still within the living memory of elders.”
    Displacement was rampant right through the 1960’s with many rural dwellers being successively moved from good land to poor land to really poor land. Then they were shuttled off to camps during the liberation.
    The elders in 1979 might even have recalled the early arrivals in the 1890’s along with the hut tax of 1894 and definitely the upsurge of migration during the depression making them keener on liberation than today’s youth but relocation generally is still well remembered to this day. Life expectancy in Harare may be in the mid 30’s but there are many in the villages well into their 90’s.
    The difference with Rhodes and his ilk was he wanted “wage slave” labourers who would at least eat, ZANU only want property and a magical income stream to flow from it.

  • MrK

    The problem is that you cannot trust any news coming out of Africa. It is all corporate, state department/foreign office approved, and frankly an isolated white minority talking to itself, whether they are journalists, NGO operators or tourists.

    For instance, the ZANU-PF, the Liberation Party, made huge strides in the 1980s in healthcare, providing for the first time health services within walking distance of all Zimbabweans. The ZANU-PF provided universal education, making the Zimbabwean population among the most literate on the continent, with a literacy rate of over 90%.

    Antonia Juhasz: “The Tragic Tale of the IMF in Zimbabwe”, 2004

    To Zimbabweans, this matters a lot more than it does to the Europeans who took these services for granted anyway.

    But from independence in April 1980, to 1990, land reform was off limits, locked up in much too generous sunset clauses. During the 1990s, some effort at landreform was made, however it was the British New Labour government, through Tony Blair and Clare Short, which axed the existing Willing Buyer, Willing Seller landreform program in November 1997, through the Clare Short letter. WBWS consisted of the ‘white farmers’ (landowners) being compensated for additions made to the land (roads, ponds, etc.) and the British government compensating them for the value of the land itself. Clare Short made the New Labour position on funding the WBWS landreform program – no funding. Clare Short: “I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not colonisers.”

    So with no funding for the WBWS program from 1997 on, the government moved on to the Fast Track landreform program in 1999.

    Why is landreform important? Because the British reproduced their own home grown dysfunctional model of land ownership, which sees 1% of Britains owning 50% of the country. In Zimbabwe, 5% of the population, later 1% because of population growth and emigration, owned 43% of the country. In South Africa, under 10% of the population own 87% of the country.

    This level of inequality of access to land has a direct and negative effect on the economy, and on wealth in society, and is completely unsustainable. Especially with a population growing around 3% a year – despite all the hysteria about ‘AIDS in Africa’, which didn’t pan out either. Zimbabwe was simply the first to move on the issue, in 1999/2000.

    And they redistributed their land very quickly and efficiently. Today, over 80,000 ‘new farmers’ have replaced the 1,500 major landlords at the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board. Tobacco production has soared past the 2000 record of 200 million kgs.

    Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Dollar had been destroyed through economic sanctions, specifically the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (ZDERA 2001), which came out of the US Senate, sponsored by Bill Frist, co-sponsored by Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Russ Feingold and Jesse Helms.

    ZDERA 2001 destroyed the Zimbabwe Dollar the way the US German Peace Treaty of 1921 destroyd the Mark in 1922. Through confiscation of government property, creating a sudden imbalance between the local currency and goods available. In Germany, gold and other goods of the “German Imperial government” were confiscated. In Zimbabwe, ZDERA 2001 confiscated the lines of credit of the Zimbabwean government in December 2001. High inflation turned into hyperinflation that year – see chart, courtesy of the Economist Group owned Economist Intelligence Unit. See ZDERA 2001, Section 4 C, tittled Multilateral Financing Restriction.

    Despite this fact, the Zimbabwean people pushed through, took their land back, and are now doing business in a mixture of foreign currencies, including US dollars earned from the record sales of their tobacco.

    Number of growers in 2018: 145,725
    Tobacco producued: 253 million kgs

    In 2000, the number of growers was 1,500 (nearly all white) and the record high output was 200 million kgs. That is the cost of colonial policy of disenfranchisement, intended to keep Africans poor and whites thriving. How much maize would Southern Rhodesia have produced during WWII, if Africans weren’t prohibited from profiting from agriculture? And this policy was kept going through gaslighting, a form of abuse, about Africans being ‘bad farmers’, or ‘destructive farmers’ (slash and burn is their favorite phrase), who should therefore be stopped from farming for the good of all.

    It is the turnaround in agriculture which most likely increased Western pressure for regime change in Zimbabwe.


    To bring down landreform, there has been a 6 billion dollar campaign, funded by Anglo-American Corporations’ owners, to demonize Zimbabwe in the international sphere, something very much akin to other demonisation campaigns against Lybia, Syria, Iraq, and today Russia, China and Venezuela. In fact they work from the same template.

    Against Zimbabwe, two works of fiction stand out. Mugabe And The White African, by Ben Freeth and Mike Campbell. And The Interpreter by Sydney Lumet, starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, and the first movie to have been filmed inside the UN building.

    No effort was spared to turn the image of President Mugabe into that of President Idi Amin – after he fell out with the Israelis, and spent the rest of his life in Saudi Arabia. It’s a template.


    Zimbabwe became independent in April 1980, while South Africa across it’s border remained under Apartheir rule until 1994. This gave the SA government 14 years to enact a destabilization campaign, by sending pseudogangs across the border to commit atrocities. All the white farmers killed in the 1980s were killed by Super ZAPU ‘dissidents’ from South Africa, according to the Catholic Commission Report.

    See: all the murders, breytenbach, super zapu

    My suspicion is that they did exactly the same thing in the 2000s as they did in the 1980s. It is very well possible or likely that the same people were involved in the ‘taxi murders’ leading up to South Africa’s 1994 first ever democratic elections.

    You don’t have to know or like President Mugabe, in order to ask a basic question: who said what, and what was their source?

    Special Report: Fact or Fiction? Examining Zimbabwean Cross-Border Migration into South Africa
    Forced Migration Studies Programme & Musina Legal Advice Office
    Table 1: Published estimates of Zimbabweans Migration Rates by Source

    “is it plausible to suggest that almost 10% of Zimbabwe’s estimated population had crossed illegally into South Africa within one year?”

    If you do that, you quickly find out that for instance the millions of Zimbabweans who ‘fled to South Africa’ after the start of sanctions in 2002, actually didn’t. 1/3 of the population of Zimbabwe (5 million out of now 16 million) never fled to South Africa. By the most reliable accounts, there are under 1 mn Zimbabweans in South Africa, and those are in the border areas they’ve lived in most of their lives.

    Anyway, if you want to know more details about Zimbabwe’s landreform program, check out the excellent research carried out by prof. Ian Scoones and his colleagues.

    South Africa has also put landreform on the table, in a much more conventional/corporate friendly/neoliberal manner, and is getting the same treatment, if the latest ‘xenophobia’ moral panic is anything to go by.

    I have a long thread about landreform and much more here:

    • Bill Thomson

      MrK your second paragraph is absolute piss as is your tobacco nonsense.
      Remind me, how are the new tobacco farmers securing their loans to fund the purchase of fertiliser and seed?
      What medication, if any, is available from the health service once you walk to it?
      How do you pay for medication if you are one of the 94% unemployed?
      Is there any fuel available if you are unable to walk.
      How many hours a day do residents of Harare get electricity or water?
      Are they still getting cholera from the mains water?
      How many acres does Grace still own?

      • MrK

        Dear Bill Thompson,

        I have no interest whatsoever to have discussion with a some revisionist rhodie.

        The fact that you cannot imagine that over 100,000 farmers can grow more tobacco than 1,500 land owners who didn’t use most of their land anyway, is all there is to be said.

        (BLOOMBERG) Mugabe Makes Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Farmers Land Grab Winners
        Godfrey Marawanyika
        November 4, 2013, 1:41 PM GMT+1

        From 2014, the numbers are even higher in recent years.

        Executive summary



        The number of registered growersincreased to 106 456 in 2014 from 91 278 registered in 2013. Active tobacco growers who delivered tobacco this year rose to 87 166 from 78 579 growers who delivered last year. This is almost a 10% rise in number of active growers.






        The number of registered growersincreased from 98 927 in 2017 to 145 725 in 2018. Of these registered growers, 40894 were new. Active tobacco growers who delivered tobacco this yearalsoroseby 43% from 97 066 growers who delivered in 2017 to 140 895 growers in 2018. In 2018, the percentage of active growers to registered growers stood at97% compared to 98% for 2017


        Also: 2018 tobacco sales

        Auction Sales: 36 million kg.
        Contract Sales: 217 million kg.
        Total: 253 million kg.

        53 million kilos more than the 1,500 rhodesians grew at their peak – and this time the profits go to over 100,000 families.

        Also notice how the number of tobacco growers is taking off. This is what happens when there is radical land redistribution in Africa. Get the colonial class out of people’s way, and the economy takes off, even when it is being sabotaged by the IMF/World Bank and economic sanctions like ZDERA 2001 Sec 4 C.

  • Dontagree

    You have the wrong end of the stick about the land situation in both Zimbabwe and South Africa. Let me speak about South Africa, since that is where I am from.

    You write:

    ” I do not accept the argument that because it was a white settler’s grandfather or great grandfather who seized the land, legally under racist colonial land grab legislation, that the descendants now have a right to it.”

    This is very misleading, and is not the situation in South Africa at all. Since the new South Africa in 1994 (i.e. for the last 25 years) the government instituted an extensive land restitution process. Any black clan or family that could demonstrate that they were the original occupants of a piece of land, which was now owned by white farmers as a result of apartheid or even further back, the Native Land Act of 1913, could claim that land. A large number of people came forward and put in land claims. Many of these were settled by the government. The vast majority (93%) of claimants opted for financial compensation rather than land restitution. It is still possible to register land claims, even today.

    So – your sentence is very misleading. In South Africa, if any “white settler’s grandfather or great grandfather seized the land”, then the original inhabitants are fully able to claim that land back, and they have been doing so for 25 years. That is NOT what is at stake currently. What is at stake is something very different. The ANC government, to placate the populist left, is proposing expropriation without compensation of land of white farmers, no matter how the land was originally purchased.

    You must accept that this is a very different situation. White farmer Joe purchases farm X in 2007, say. That farm doesn’t have any land claim registered on it (i.e. no community has come forward to claim that land as originally belonging to their forefathers). Moreover, farm X has been commercially traded many times in the 20th century – perhaps this is the 10th time it has been sold. And now the government is claiming a moral right to take Joe’s land away, with zero compensation. That is VERY different from legitimate land claims (which is still ongoing), and is surely not fair at all.

    If, Mr Murray, you DO think it is fair, then I would ask you to consider applying the same principle to the UK itself. A huge proportion of its wealth came from the riches of its Imperial colonies. Your very existence, your whole life, ultimately came from that. Do you think it is fair that you are expropriated without compensation, even though your current possessions, or those of your father, or even those of your grandfather, weren’t DIRECTLY involved in imperial malfeasance?

  • Gideon Anthony

    Dear Mr. Murray, At least in the case of Zimbabwe , it is true that ideology and a commitment to democracy do not always express themselves in a necessarily consistent way. Malcolm Rifkind in his introduction to Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land (Kumarian Press) states that, in his opinion, as someone who has a long standing interest in land reform, that the land reforms carried out by Mugabe were actually as, as much as could be expected, fair and transparent. I don’t take issue with your statements and indeed see you as shining an uncomfortable light on the international impact of ‚Henry Jacksonian‘ neo conservatism and simply flag up that surprisingly for me, as a conservative foreign secretary, Rifkind articulates a view which would appear also to run contrary to the Orientalist myths which you and a few marginalized others expose so mercilessly.

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