Zimbabwe: Addressing The Issues

Commemorating Zimbabwe’s independence in Washington DC was business as usual for the diplomatic staff at the embassy there. Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Dr. Simbi V. Mubako recently held a press reception to mark the nation’s independence by addressing some of the issues facing Zimbabwe and lacking clarity in the western press. The ‘Black Press’ in Washington DC were especially invited to discuss the current challenges facing the 23 year old modern nation.

The audience of mostly journalists and Pan-African activists listened intently to his presentation lamenting the misinformation western press continues to make public about Zimbabwe. Ambassador Mubako admitted, some of the misinformation was due to either lack of information from Zimbabwean sources -which journalists have limited access to, and of coarse, malice. “Zimbabwe is facing serious socio-economic problems,” he said, but “the true story of Zimbabwe will be written by you!”

“The international press is on a propaganda campaign to demonize Zimbabwe,” said Ambassador Mubako. “Zimbabwe has its faults as any other country, [but] Zimbabwe’s policies are anchored in democracyé and the government never want to deviate from a democratic process.”

Ambassador Mubako chose the event to announce a turning point in modern Zimbabwean affairs. “The land distribution process is now over”, he declared.

Zimbabwe has been engaged in the internationally criticized government policy of seizing portions of farms owned by whites and re-distributing it to black Zimbabwean nationals.

Faced with questions and concerns that some Zimbabweans are regarding the process as inconclusive, the Ambassador retorted “the white farmers have never been satisfied by the processé some white farmers are still on the land, complaining mainly because they want compensation.” The Ambassador affirmed, that compensation could only be for ‘improvement’ to the land itself, but not for the land, which was unjustly “taken from the blacks in the first place without any compensation.”

The ambassador proudly offered that 400,000 families had been resettled on 11 million hectares of land acquired. The next step, he said, was for emphasis to be “placed on the utilization of the land éthose who have acquired the land will have to utilize it.”

As if pre-empting questions which were sure to follow, he further announced, “…there will be a land audit, promised by President Mugabe himself.” The land audit he explained, was to assess misappropriated land, and to re-distribute land that is being held by landowners without plans or resources to put the land into production.

Responding to allegations that Mugabe cronies have unfairly acquired more land than they are due, the Ambassador acknowledged that this is in fact “real” but pointed to the official land redistribution policy as being clearly against any person acquiring land not sanctioned by law. He emphasized that “those are things the audit will iron out éthere are some cases like that but they are few and it does not mean the whole project is flawed.” He pointed out that 400,000 families-with an average of 6 members per family, thus roughly 2.4 million Zimbabweans “cant all be friends of Mugabe or cronies.”

The Ambassador also addressed the current food shortage crisis in his homeland. He claimed that NGOs presently operating in Zimbabwe were using food as a political tool against Mugabe supporters who were often denied food because of their political affiliation. His Excellency Mubako was keen to isolate Mugabe supporters and government ministers who are allegedly involved in ‘food politics’ from the national agenda. Mugabe, he said, had made it clear that “éit is against government policy for any official to [use food as a political tool], any official doing this, is doing this for their own political purposes–not the government’s.”

Addressing rumors that Zimbabwe may be next on the U.S. list for regime change, Ambassador Mubako remarked, “Zimbabwe’s relations with the U.S. is not as good as they should be.” Zimbabwe, he said, “have no quarrel with the United States” which have taken a negative political attitude towards Zimbabwe. Referring to President George Bush’s recent Executive Order against Zimbabwe, which also provides for the freezing of assets belonging to Zimbabwe government officials, the Ambassador quickly pointed out that “no Zimbabwe leader on the list of 72 or so have assets in the United States.” President Mugabe, he said, issued a statement that if the United States finds any of his assets in the U.S., “let them take it and distribute it to their poor.”

The Ambassador appeared to regard threats made against fellow African states by the U.S. to be more serious. Pressure on members of the African Union (AU) to either isolate Zimbabwe or face omission from the proposed benefits of NEPAD were classed as “very rude.” Ambassador Mubako advised the US to “go to the African states to ask how to deal with an African state” rather than dictating from afar.

The Ambassador agreed that the United States’ tone and threats towards Zimbabwe is colonial. “We have been a colony after all,” he said, “[but] if we are going to be threatened by a new colonialism, we have to fight. Zimbabwe will never agree to surrender its sovereignty.”

Suzette Gardner is a freelance writer, editor of RastafariToday.com and founding member of Organized Community Of United People (The COUP) a Washington, DC based organization for socio-political change through media and education. She is also host of Roots Revolution, a weekly radio adventure into roots reggae, dub, afro-Diaspora beats, afro pop, and a little “talk.” She contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from Washington, DC, USA.