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Max du Preez wrong about "Zimbabwe's flourishing farms"

Jan Raath
02 May 2013

Jan Raath says Joe Hanlon's apologism for land seizures jaw droppingly wide of the truth

In reply to Max du Preez's column on "Zimbabwe's flourishing farms" (see Cape Times column here).

Joe Hanlon, quoted in Max's piece, is a distinguished author and commentator on Southern African politics and economics, notably on Mozambique. However, his book, "Zimbabwe Takes Back The Land," published earlier this year, makes assertions that are so wide of a truth so vividly apparent on the ground, that they leave one open-mouthed with disbelief.

There are volumes of misapprehensions in his book, but I will confine myself briefly to a few fundamental points. I have been reporting as a journalist on the euphemistically-named "fast-track land reform programme" since it began in 2000 and its implications.

Drive through the former commercial farming areas and you will find cropping land that was intensively farmed in 2000, reverted to wild grassland, except for scattered subsistence plots of stunted maize. Cattle have disappeared almost entirely.

The seizures of white-owned farm land were not the spontaneous impulse of land hunger asserted by Mr Hanlon. The recorded evidence is that it was initiated by President Mugabe as a strategy to prevent Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC from winning elections in 2000. It was effected by the Central Intelligence Organisation, which is under his direct control, and using army, police and other government agencies for transport and logistics.

"Settler" communities were rounded up from peasant areas and dumped on commercial farms without provision of any of the necessities for farming, shelter, health or education. They were Zimbabwe's version of the "Discarded People," the forced removals by the apartheid government of blacks in KwaZulu Natal in the 1970's that were exposed by Catholic priest Cosmas Desmond.

In the late 1990s, the UN carried out two large-scale surveys that showed that 75 percent of Zimbabweans wanted jobs rather than land, in contrast to the ZANU(PGF) propaganda portrayal of the farm invasions as an expression of national land hunger.

Mr Hanlon says that 250 000 peasant farmers have equalled the output of commercial farmers. Yet food production has collapsed, Zimbabwe is dependent on maize imports, and foodstuffs in supermarkets are almost exclusively imports from South Africa. Zimbabwe used to be self sufficient in food, and industrial products.

To expect an impoverished people with no access to credit, fertilisers or crop chemicals, depending on hand-made hoes and ploughs for implements, to produce on the same scale as commercial farmers backed by bank loans, sophisticated mechanical equipment, high-grade seed and chemicals, is naïve in the extreme. It is a fiction created by ZANU(PF) that Mr Hanlon has fallen for.

Mr du Preez is right to urge South Africa against adopting Mr Mugabe's land-grab. I would urge him to come up and see for himself how Mr Mugabe's efforts have made a wasteland of what was Africa's second most prosperous country.

Yours,

Jan Raath

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It is something many South Africans do not want to hear and would probably find hard to believe: Zimbabwe’s radical land redistribution has worked and agricultural production is on levels comparable to the time before the process started. What is more meaningful is that the production levels were achieved by 245 000 black farmers on the land previously worked by some 6 000 white farmers. I got this information from a new book, Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land by Joseph Hanlon, Jeanette Manjengwa and Teresa Smart."
Max du Preez, Cape Times, April 30 2013
 

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 responses to this article

zimbabwe land reform
where is a full version of the article referred to above by max du preez to be found?

by vuyisa on May 02 2013, 16:43
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interesting indeed
I have friends who had a cattle and dry land cropping farm. It took tenty five minutes in a cessna citation to fly across the land.
there is not one commercial animal nor one stalk of commercial grain produced on that farm any more.

I have . .more

by Pangolin on May 02 2013, 16:45
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Land Reform
All that is great Jan Raath, but the fact that black people are now owners of their land sure has value too,greater value than all the academic numbers you have listed here. Human dignity, pride have value too. This, along with resilience, hard work and . .more

by Sourgrapes on May 02 2013, 17:47
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agreed
anyone who goes to Zimbabwe regularly knows that the country is not what it was 14 years ago, though things have improved a bit. Dollarisation has stabilised the economy. Harare is humming with diamond money. But agriculture is nowhere near where it . .more

by trio on May 02 2013, 17:54
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@Sourgrapes
I was at the Zimbabwe Trade Fair last week for the first time. Zimbabwe's black farmers were exhibiting various crops and livestock. American buyers were there doing the buying. What a pleasure to witness. So indeed Sourgrapes is right, dignity will see . .more

by Bongani on May 02 2013, 18:00
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@Sourgrapes
Zim is a beggar nation relying on food aid and handouts as well as money sent in from the diaspora to stop it's people from starving. Where is the diginty and pride in that?

by Rock Rabbit on May 02 2013, 20:53
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Bongani has been smoking too much bong.
If the Americans are buying then I would be scared.
Ask the Boere to help the poor farmers and then maybe they have a chance.
Also beware of Monsanto

by Ben Mazibuko on May 02 2013, 23:28
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Land Reform Necissary
I agree that land reform is necessary but why, especially in Zimbabwe, does it need to be transferred from a white farmer to a black one. You see in Zim in the '90s only 20% of arable land was being farmed. The other 80% was fallow, could have been . .more

by @Sourgrapes & Bongani on May 02 2013, 23:38
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LOL@Sourgrapes on May 02 2013, 17:47
More value than eating? Zombabwe has just had the worst hunger season in 4 years according to the people who feed it.

by Brett on May 03 2013, 00:03
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@vuyisa on May 02 2013, 16:43: Max's Mercury article is available on:

http://www.iol.co.za/mercury/we-can-learn-from-zim-s-flourishing-farms-1.1508335#.UYLnarU_s1M

You may also wish to read economist Dawie Roodt's opinion on the subject last month:

"When it came to key indicators of wealth and . .more

by Siegfried Hannig on May 03 2013, 00:30
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"It is a fiction created by ZANU(PF) that Mr Hanlon has fallen for.....".....

......writes JAN RAATH, but he is only partially correct in this observation - supported by evidence on & in the agricultural ground in Zim today, as we blog.

I say "only partially correct" in that it is indeed " A FICTION CREATED BY . .more

by John Austin on May 03 2013, 00:30
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LSE
This is astonishing. On what evidence has this LSE book been based? There needs to be more criticism and if necessary refutation of the book. Does Zimbabwe no longer need food aid?

by sceptic on May 03 2013, 07:09
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OK so what is the unemployment rate? 85%

They destroyed their entire economy - 85% unemployment, a currency that completely collapsed, their total debt is $46 billion - that is 4 times more than their income a year, that is they are the most indebted country in the world, the Chinese OWN . .more

by Nasdaq7 on May 03 2013, 07:31
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Dignity in a begging bowl wasteland?
What's going on in some poor minds?

by Injala Apera on May 03 2013, 07:37
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The softening up process is in full swing
Max du Preez's article should be acknowledged for what it is ...propaganda. The softening up process is in full swing, only recently Joyce Banda the President of Malawi visited Zimbabwe and congratualated Mugabe on the land reform process. She also said . .more

by wendy on May 03 2013, 08:33
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Inaccurate
I have not read the whole book by Hanlon et al but I know enough to be able to say that Mr Raath's arguments don't contradict anything those authors say. They acknowledge most of the points above. Maybe he should read the book before responding!

by John on May 03 2013, 09:16
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Africa Aid
This is wonderful news, now we europeans can inform our generous goverments to stop putting our hard earned money into Africa to help the poor folk, now we can use it better for ourselfs. They have learned at last how to fish and feed themselselves.

by hollander on May 03 2013, 10:32
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This book is a treasure
I have just got a copy of the book at CNA. Its short and easy to read. I should be done with it in a day or two. The book must be a real treasure judging by the fevered comments from some of my former compatriots.

by Chimurenga on May 03 2013, 10:44
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Zimbabwe
Haven't and won't read the book.
Visited Zim recently, can see why people 'escape' to SA
When people 'escape' to Zim I will start reading the 'success' stories.
All I saw was lots and lots of hungry people!
Must be hard being a lefty with . .more

by ja well, no fine on May 03 2013, 11:01
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ja well, no fine
Thousands of other people are reading the book, ja well. And getting their eyes opened too. You have fed us a lot of bull for far too long. Its time the truth came out. And this book does just that.

by Chimurenga on May 03 2013, 11:37
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Phresh New Independent Newspapers (IOL) Propaganda
IOL are now in the hands of some BEE crowd? BEE > ANC > ZANU(PF).

IOL, TNA etc. will all look like the Zimbabwe Herald before long... pure, unsmuttered, Afro-commie propaganda. The Mercury's editor (where Du Preez's article was found floating) . .more

by Cap'n Haddock on May 03 2013, 11:43
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take a look around you here
Dont' be surprised when I tell you that most of our restituted farms in SA are shot. Did a documentary where I travelled around and was shocked to see that the farms looked like a warzone. Homesteads stripped bare by the communities who inherited them . .more

by whatsuptoday on May 03 2013, 12:13
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@Whatsuptoday......the maJealousy mindset....

During 1986-88, when in Chikurubi, I tried to understand incidents of similar mindless selfishness & stubborn stupidity. My newly acquired black friend, Harry Mapolobele, said to me "Aaaah, Austini, it is just a maJealousy".

More recently, a . .more

by John Austin on May 03 2013, 12:58
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Zimbabwe land seizure a big success
These white refugees would not be crying so hard if it was not a big success. The land has been repossessed f#ck the stupid boere. We have liberated Zimbabwe now time for Mzansi.

by Sipho on May 03 2013, 13:46
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@by Sipho on May 03 2013, 13:46....re maJealousy mindset....

....ndatenda comrade Sipho, you make my point depressingly poignant.

Makorokoto iTsotsi !

Chikurubi-Truth-Commissioner :)

by John Austin on May 03 2013, 14:20
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@John Austin
Who are we jealousy of, John? The whites? No. The land reform programme was not motivated by jealousy. The whites seized land from us; we seized it back. How does jealousy come into all this?

by Chimurenga on May 03 2013, 14:26
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you'll be cryign sipho
@sipho.
Well my young man, I hope that your arrogance holds out, because in 20 years time, you'll be singing a different tune when you have no food. You'll be begging the boere to come back, just like the other African countries are doing. Find out . .more

by whatsuptoday on May 03 2013, 14:31
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Writing on the wall
One of the very first farms to be "repossessed" was the one dedicated to the planting and selling of crop seeds for the country's agricultural industry, and well as beyond in Black Africa.
The "rightful" new owner's just happened to be his excellency . .more

by Injala Apera on May 03 2013, 14:35
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Samples . Statistics
Well my Zibabwean gardener does not agree with the LSE academics. If he did he would not be living in hill row and tilling a northern suburbs vegetable garden instead of the prosperous peasant farms imagined by the LSE. Lies damn lies and statistics, . .more

by Sceptic on May 03 2013, 16:40
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@John Austin (Chikurubi Christian)
"My friend is a born-again Christian, as indeed I am myself..."
You just lost any respect that I had for you.

by Jeff on May 03 2013, 19:47
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@Jeff....and your loss of respect.....

.....why should my faith affect your respect for me or, more importantly, your respect for my opinions & experiences in Zimbabwe that I have posted on POLWEB ?

Does it invalidate my opinions & experiences ?

Does it mean what I have . .more

by John Austin on May 03 2013, 21:25
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ZIM/RSA
Lets keep the discussion black vs white then we can have K** arguments for ever.
Lets avoid government vs people discussions then we can keep TIM (that idiot Mugabe) and Zuma in power.
Our (and Zim) governments not bad because they black but . .more

by Ja well, no fine on May 04 2013, 08:44
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p.s.@Jeff...and born-again respect....

.....it might help you to know that there are a fair number of regional purported "born-agains" that I have lost any respect for.

BUT NOT on account of their purporting to be born-again, but on their own account of being dishonest . .more

by John Austin on May 04 2013, 13:11
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...error...p.s.@Jeff....etc...

....money changers in Jerusalem....

Should read:

....money changers & market traders in The Temple in Jerusalem.....


JVA(Snr) :)

by John Austin on May 04 2013, 13:15
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Zim's flourishing farms
It is a matter of politics, its true but politicians at most are sane except they are ruled by greed. It's not all blacks who are failures unless politics fails them. Give them equal support whites received and patient term of 45 years and start judging . .more

by Joyful on May 05 2013, 20:29
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Zim success on farming
Blacks should be careful that they do not laught at their neighbours efforts when they reform their land policies after earning their hard-fought freedoms. Great things still await 'sweetheart' SA. The gauge is this timed-ticking bomb when some cannot . .more

by Joyful on May 05 2013, 20:39
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Forget about the LSE
@ John
Have a look at SA Universities and especially those departments involved in Land Issues

You can have a gander here

http://www.landdivided2013.org.za

What is most interesting is that much of the debate seems to be . .more

by Bibliophile on May 06 2013, 10:25
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@Bibliophile....The Problem with ACADEMIA.......

.....and Academics, is protecting their independence on the one hand, and informing their minds on the other. Institutions of learning are notorious as being battlegrounds for subversion & sophistry.

Like politics, Academia has also become a . .more

by John Austin on May 06 2013, 11:57
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