President Robert Mugabe, a hero or villain?

Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act (IEEA) came into force in March which means that local Zimbabweans are entitled to own 51 percent ownership in all foreign-owned companies; this act has the potential to be a historic moment for the African continent in regards to correcting past wrongs towards Zimbabweans and the issue of land redistribution for African people in general.

In March this year the Zimbabwean government’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act (IEEA) came into law ,which meant that local people were entitled to own 51 percent of foreign firms in their country. This act is part of the government’s plans to correct historical wrongs by imperial powers and to empower local Zimbabweans.

Unmasking the demonising of Mugabe in the media

Since President Robert Mugabe’s land reform programme in 1995 the western media has painted him as a ruthless dictator who has murdered his own people to remain in power.

Whether Mugabe has committed crimes against his own people is an internal matter for his country and perhaps the African Union to investigate, what is an issue however is the fact that the western media has hidden crucial evidence in their reports to why Mugabe is opposed by western governments.

Horace Campbell, a member of the African Studies Association and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, wrote “…in the past fifteen years Mugabe has turned the victories of the people into a never ending nightmare of murders, killings, forced removal and brutal oppression.” (Global Research: December 2008)

He also said that because of Mugabe’s constant references to imperialism being the causes of Zimbabwe’s plight many Africans and people abroad do not criticise him and see him as a heroic revolutionary figure.

Campbell presents a compelling argument that whether Mugabe or any African leader for that matter is a heroic revolutionary figure this should not prevent people from criticising him or holding him accountable for his crimes against his people.

Campbell’s critique of Mugabe however must be placed in the perspective of what Stephen Gowans mentioned in his article published on the Global Research website, on December 31, 2008, titled ‘Understanding the Crisis in Zimbabwe: Cynicism as a substitute for scholarship

Gowans said that many progressive scholars such as Campbell ignore the fact that the very groups and organisations that they use as references in their arguments are linked to western powers out to destabilise Zimbabwe so that a regime change can bring about a government more compliant with western interests.

He said that Campbell’s critique was published in Pambazuka News, a project linked to the US Ford Foundation. He also mentions that anti-Mugabe opposition groups such as Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), which Campbell referred to in his article has support from the US government through Freedom House which is tied to the CIA.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC and a western favourite was funded by the British government and the party’s policy advisors has links to the Republican Party in the US. Is it any surprise that he is a western ally?

This leads back to the IEEA that Mugabe’s government has enforced in law and which was rejected by none other than Morgan Tsvangirai.

In an interview with Gregory Elich, Netfa Freeman, Director of the Social Action & Leadership School for Activists, who had just returned from a trip to Zimbabwe in September 2006 said:

Nowhere on the continent have Africans taken as radical a measure toward land reform as we have in Zimbabwe. And not only have Zimbabwe’s land reforms been an inspiration for people in other African states, they have gained respect in Diasporan countries such as Venezuela and Bolivia. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has publicly praised Zimbabwe’s land reform process as a model he would like to emulate in that country.” (Gregory Elich: Global Research: September 2006)

Freeman added:

Furthermore, President Mugabe is a leader who also publicly keeps the inspiration of Kwame Nkrumah alive. That is, not only have all the aforementioned things been done under the leadership of Mugabe, he also often mentions Nkrumah and his ideals in speeches addressing other Africans. He is not afraid to speak of socialism at a time when no other African leader dares utter the word. President Mugabe openly condemns imperialism with the boldness and clarity we have only come to expect from leaders such as Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez. That is why President Mugabe receives such resounding applause wherever he goes on the continent of Africa or when he speaks at UN or AU summits. No other African leader is doing what he is doing right now, and because he is, Zimbabwe stands as an inspiration to African people the world over. We need to see and hear such things. They serve as political education for pan-Africanism.”

In  a Reuters report yesterday titled, ‘Zimbabwe says foreign firm takeovers start with mines’, and edited by Stella Mapenzauswa and Andrew Roche, it mentions that “The world’s two largest platinum miners, Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum, have multi-million dollar investments in Zimbabwe, while Rio Tinto has gold and diamond interests.” This statement was in relation to the government’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act which will hand over 51 percent of these western companies to Zimbabweans. Is this what the fierce anti-Mugabe media stories is really about? It seems so.

Anglo Platinum is a subsidiary of Anglo American PLC and Rio Tinto is a British-Australian, multinational mining and resources group with headquarters in London and Melbourne.

The IEEA seems to be a significant historical act for Zimbabwe, handing over the theft of resources and land back to the indigenous Zimbabweans. It spells danger from a western point of view if similar measures are taken by other African governments and their control and power on the continent diminishes; this seems to be the real reason why Mugabe is demonised in the media.

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14 thought on “Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act: A historic moment for the African continent”
  1. This article completely fails to understand the full implications of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill. This act is not correcting historical injustices, but purposefully seeks to steal companies from those that created them, as well as reserving many sectors of the economy for the sole use of ‘indigenous’ people.

    My partner and I have a small graphics design business in Harare that we’ve built up over a few years, it’s not huge, and makes a modest profit each month, enough to support our two families and pay the wages for the three people we employ. This act seeks to force us to sell the controlling stake of our company to someone we’ve never met, whose skills, creativity and dedication we cannot vouch for, and we will only be recompensed from the profits made by the company over the next several years.

    We risked our livelihoods for this business, mortgaged our houses to get it off the ground, slowly built up the client base, goodwill and assets to have it all taken away for nothing. Will someone who is basically being given a directorship and 51% of the profits for doing nothing ever put in the effort we have? The business won’t even support any more partners at its current client base. We never stole anything from anyone, the business was created post-independence, what historical injustice will be corrected by impoverishing us?

    You people know nothing. If the British Nationalist party got into power and decided that all ‘non-indigenous’ people in Britain were no longer allowed to own a controlling stake in their own business over there, you people would be up in arms and protesting in the streets. You are complete hypocrites!

    John cannot steal from Thembo, then fix it by having Tawanda steal from John. That will not correct historical injustice. Help Tawanda acquire the skills, investment and other resources to start his own business! That’s how you empower people!

  2. Dear Thomas,

    I find your story very interesting and I believe that you have a case which you can present to the government. However, I disagree on some fundamental points. For instance I do believe that the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill is an historic act for Zimbabwe and for Africa in general for the simple reason it will correct past historical wrongs such as the theft of land and resources by Europeans for European benefit.

    I strongly disagree with your argument about the BNP for the simple reason black and ethnic minority communities in Britain did not historically invade that country and rob it of its resources whilst imprisoning the indigenous people and denying them power.

    I sympathise with your plight but I question your understanding of the injustices inflicted on African people for centuries by Europeans, which is why you made a fatal error by comparing the plight of Africans with the BNP, a gross misrepresentation of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill.

    The Bill is no different to when British governments call for British jobs for British workers.

    We live in a world of hyprocrites and unfortunately you may have been a victim of this, but to say that Tawanda needs to acquire the skills, investment and resources to empower himself is to simplify a very complex issue brought on by centuries of European exploitation.

  3. I totally disagree with you Thomas, unfortunately you are an offspring of a breed of heartless thieves, who try to justify their theft of land and resources by making huge production for the country whilst denying the indigenous people the rights to own that very land and manage its resources.The bill is the same as the British press calling for British jobs for British workers.

    All over the former British colonies you Thomas and your snobbish breed of whites invaded other peoples land, killed them and reduced them to your cheap labour.Your time is up.What the evil Queen Victoria orchestrated for you and your children more than a century ago has come back to haunt you. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.

  4. @ Darlinton – “you Thomas and your snobbish breed of whites invaded other peoples land,” – Excuse me, but I am no more responsible for global colonisation and conquest than the Romans, the Vikings, or the Normans invading Britain, or the current decendants of the Bantu branch of the human population is to the displacement and near extermination of the San People from Southern Africa, or the subjugation and exploitation of the Shona by the Ndebele before the colonists arrived. I, like everyone else alive throughout the world today has been shaped by historical events that we had no control or influence over.

    That does not mean I abrogate my responsibilty in life to learn from the injustices of the past and to help do my bit to make the world a better place. All is not lost, we can still correct these imbalances. However, not by creating further imbalances from theft, discrimination and bigotry. Make no mistake about it, these policies of the former revolutionary government I once admired have done, and are doing exactly that.

    Overt discrimination of one geneology of people against another. Furthermore, do you realise this indiginisation act has included in its language, a prohibition on any non-indigenous person from owning a business in any of the following sectors: Agriculture, Transportation, Retail & Wholesale Trade, Hair-dressing, Employment Agencies, Estate Agencies, Valet Services, Milling, Bakeries, Tobacco Packing and Processing, Advertising Agencies, Dairy Processing, Provision of Arts or Craft, Marketing and Distribution? This is in perpetuity, meaning none of my children, citizens of this wonderful country, (and not entitled to live anywhere else in the world,) may never grow up with an ambition to start up their own business in any of these sectors, based entirely on their ethnicity. If they have an apptitude for working in any of these sectors, the best they could ever hope for is to work for someone else. Not only that, the act applies to all decendents. Tell me how you can justify this disgraceful legal entity!?

    First it was farms, where, to be honest, there was some justification in seeking to redistribute resources never paid for, but not in cases where white farmers, or foreign companies had fairly paid (including their taxes to this government) for the land. But now its businesses too. Where does this madness end? What happened to the high ideals of equality, where, to quote a magnificent visionary, “…one is not judged by the colour of their skin, but on the content of their character?” This ought to be something everyone in this forum should be against, not supporting. Or is it true that racism and discrimination is only one way?

    “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” – Martin Luthur King, August 28, 1963.

  5. I would totally agree with you in that for a country to shape their future they will also need to look back and see what had happened before.

    The empowerment act and the land reform were absolutely the best measures towards complete independence in Zimbabwe.The issue is most African countries have celebrated independence but to be honest with you, people died to see this come to reality.You can never tell a Zimbabwean whose great grand fathers were were taken away from their own land only to be placed in bushes far from their fully owned resources that this act is injust.

    These anglo American companies were built by the blacks not whites, there were fully funded by the Zimbabweans’ resources and labour under gun point. People died building these roads, dams and buldings that we see.These Zimbabweans should actually take back what is theirs not just 51%.

  6. Well some armchair comments by ignorant people!

    Why should the sins of the fathers be wrought upon their children? Why should I for one who was born and raised in Zimbabwe, my family immigrants to the health sector in the 70s, not be allowed a chance in life? Simply because I am white-or indigenous?? Where is the justice in this bill that empowers and advocates racism-where is the democracy.

    Where is the £40m given to Mugabe in the 80’s to buy back whatever land he wanted back???Shared out amongst his cronies and now they steal the land anyway-two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Hasn’t Mugabe done enough, chasing away 3-4mill people already who have no desire to be in Zimbabwe. Yet this bill will chase away all foreigners bringing in currency and providing work. They will be white, Asian and black who leave zimbabwe and eventually the only people left will be the bitter twisted ones with no economy/plenty of empty businesses/loads of land but no one to work it or sell too, last one out switch off the light!!!

    Clearly a former poster can compare to BNP the Zimbabwe government- the difference being the BNP are less racist. Mark Watson must be smoking crack cocaine. Why don’t you go fight for the American Indians who deserve all their land back or discuss with the UK why they invented Apartheid and gave Hitler the fantastic idea of the efficiency of committing genocide by setting up concentration camps.

  7. Hello Jimmy,

    Firstly, let me say this, the sins of the fathers or mothers should be wrought upon their children if they fail to acknowledge the sins that has been committed by their ancestors and how they have benefited and continue to benefit from those sins.

    If you are a white person born in Zimbabwe then you should understand more than other whites outside of that country why land redistribution is an important political act to right historical wrongs. The justice in that bill states that black Zimbabweans should have a stake in their own country, something they have been denied for centuries.

    If millions of whites are leaving it is because the benefits they once had is no longer available. In other words it could be argued that those whites detest democracy and racial equality.

    Whites in Zimbabwe who understand that land redistriubtion is essential for democracy will stay in the country and have a stake in its future.

    The BNP cannot be compared to Mugabe simply because Africans did not invade Britain or Europe and take over their land, a crucial difference. To say that the BNP is less racist than Mugabe is to pervert the understanding of the term racist and twist it in favour of those who denied humanity to non whites for centuries.

    It is ironic how you advocate the rights of Native Americans and admit that the UK constructed apartheid, but you fail to see the clear contradiction regarding Zimbabwe. Do they too not deserve their land back?

    African empowerment is seen as a threat to whites, and therefore mistakenly and quite deliberately referred to as racist, when in fact it is correcting centuries of racial injustices. I look forward to your thoughts on these matters.

  8. Unfortunately Mark, your sentiments are not backed up by realities on the ground, as well as completely failing to recognise any historical context and the evolution of understanding that has occurred during the last century and a half.

    Firstly, the land known as Zimbabwe was colonised by European settlers in the early 1890s, not the century you mention. Secondly, about 80 years before that, it was colonised by the Zulus (to be known as the (Si(Ndebele tribes) from the South who treated the Shona tribes in much the same way as the later settlers, perhaps with less efficiency due to available technology at the time. Before that even, around 1500 years before the Ndebeles, it was the Bantu tribes emigrating down from central Africa who colonised the land known as Zimbabwe who were to create one of Africa’s preeminant trading empires, and which was occupied at the time by the San people, who were systematically removed from their homelands to make way for the new settlers.

    This is a rather condensed version of history, but the purpose it serves is to demonstrate there is no “God-Given” right to this land for anyone except perhaps the poor San people now living in the Kalahari who were the original land-owners as far as historical knowledge suggests.

    So who has a right to live and make the best of themselves and their surroundings in this beautiful and bountiful land? Should restitution be paid by each succeeding generation for the faults of their forefathers? And who is to apportion that blame? Are you even aware, when understanding voting demographics during the 1960’s, that the majority of 2nd and 3rd generation Rhodesians voted for progressive and liberal parties, whilst it was the new influx of post-war Europeans who voted for Ian Smith’s segregationist party eventually leading to UDI? Are you aware that many thousands of whites in Rhodesia did not agree with those policies with many being imprisioned themselves for supporting a more culturally diverse policy.

    Unfortuntely, like the world over, governments are able to steam-roll their ideas through, with the consequence, that all are tarnished with the same brush, in much the same way that you, Mark, have absolutely no personal control in the invasions by Britain and her allied nations in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, or any of the other countries your leaders and their allies have been at war with over the past 50 years. Do you believe you and other the citizens of those countries should be forced to give up 51% of your businesses to compensate those your forefathers may have treated unfairly? What about the thousands of Congolese nationals killed by Zimbabwean troops in Zaire in the late 90s and whose mines are now controlled by Zimbabwean and Namibian military leaders? Or closer to home, the 20,000 plus Ndebeles massacred by the Fifth Brigade in the early 80s? What about for events 100 years ago? 200 years ago? 500 years ago? Where do we draw the line?

    Sooner or later, we as a global civilisation, because that’s what we are in this post-millenium world, we have to draw the line, acknowledge and respect the past in tandem with an appreciation of the historical context and level of understanding of the time, but also endevour to create and support the conditions for equality of opportunity so every citizen, regardless of their ethnicity or historical descendancy may do, and be, the best that they can in the area they are in.

    Racist and bigoted laws have no place in this day and age, and are for the worse because we all as global citizens should have grown up and learned from all of our preceeding generations’ mistakes.

    Next time you post Mark, I’d be very interested to find out if you are willing to have 51% ownership of the business you own or work for, given to some ‘deserving’ fellow because of the actions of your current or previous politicans, because that is what you are truely saying.

  9. Hello Tom,

    Firstly, you say Europeans came as ‘settlers’ in the 1890s to Zimbabwe. I notice you use the term ‘settlers’ rather than colonisers through military force. You conveniently missed out that Cecil Rhodes used the British South Africa Police, along with the deadly maxim gun to defeat the surrounding African peoples and establish British control over the precious minerals and resources in the region. This is harldy a settler community.

    As for the Zulus conquering the region, I find this argument used by many European historians and students of history very misleading and underhanded. European slavery and race ideology differed from all slavery because they claimed to use reason and science to justify the subjugation of one race over another, an ideology that is with us even today within science and the public mentality. Not one indigenous Zimbabwean I have spoken to has mentioned the Zulu colonisation to me, and I believe yourself and others with the same thinking use this argument as a smokscreen to avoid dealing with the consequences of centuries of European plunder in Africa.

    I believe I dealt with whites who live in Zimbabwe in my previous comment where I mentioned “Whites in Zimbabwe who understand that land redistriubtion is essential for democracy will stay in the country and have a stake in its future.” (July 31) So in other words whites who understand the injustices carried out by Cecil Rhodes and the British army, along with the British South African army will work with the government and give up the 50% resources and land they inherited by theft and injustice.

    As for your speech about global citizenship and where people should draw the line about righting past wrongs, I think it is a matter of too little too late. If my great great grandfather took over a person’s home by violence and force, and I inherited the benefits of that property and land, whose people are now destitute and hungry, I cannot fault these people for hating me and my family line unless I am willing to right the wrongs. I cannot say to them let bygones be bygones whilst I reap the benefits of their land and property.

    Europeans own the majority of African resources which they took by force and bloody massacres. Read this article, which explains why Africans starve while European corporations get rich from buying up huge acres of land for food export while the people go starving.

    For you and others to turn round and say let bygones be bygones and speak of a global citizenship is insulting, naive and utterly unrealistic.

    Let us first confront these injustices before we speak of a global citizenship. Let us first confront the Western corporations who use African land to export food whilst African men, women and children go starving. Let us confront these monstrous corporations who have their history in empire building and then all of us regardless of race can discuss about a global citizenship; but we cannot discuss a global citizenship whilst you and other whites refuse to confront your governments, your past, and right the wrongs committed in your name.

    I disagree with you that people have no control over their government and the actions they take. British law abiding citizens were willing to break the law and take on the police during the poll tax riots, yet they seem to whimper when it comes to the lives of innocent children in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is money more important to people than life I ask?

    The thing about a global citizenship is that if it did exist the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc., for oil and resources would never have taken place. So in that context if my business profited or gained from a government policy and disenfranchised someone else, I would give up the 51%; that is if I was genuinely interested in a global citizenship and a future based on real equality.
    I look forward to your response.

  10. Hi Mark,

    I did actually say that the European settlers came and “colonised” Zimbabwe. By calling them settlers the intention was really only to avoid repetition in the same sentence and did not reflect a view that I consider their intrusion and subsequent forceful conquest of the land as being like a peaceful transfer of control. I am fully aware, and ashamed of the manner in which people from my great-grandparents’ country and others arrived and treated the inhabitants. I cannot justify their actions, nor can I wish them away, but I reiterate the point, I am not responsible for their misdeeds.

    It is completely impossible to compensate everyone whose ancestors were affected by the actions of other people’s ancestor and return things to the way they were before. How could anyone disentangle the economic beneficiaries from these past actions over the 90 years between 1890 and 1980? Especially bearing in mind that it was also the British, the US, as well as other European countries, and therefore by extension the global economy and everyone who has lived and worked within these countries that have also benefited from resources gathered from Zimbabwe over this time period. So I ask again, why haven’t you put up the shares of 51% of your business to be distributed to a formerly disadvantaged person? I’m not talking about your great-great grandfather, although he was also a beneficiary, I mean you, Mark. You personally have, as has everyone in your country by way of its economy, as have the economies and population of all the colonising European countries, all you inhabitants of Europe continue to be beneficiaries of our colonial past, especially now due to the EU. Do not lay the blame and the only obligation to make recompense at my doorstep alone.

    To be honest, I don’t expect you to pay anything, when fully calculated it would bankrupt every single colonising country to the tune of quintillions of Euros of wealth in today’s money, if not more. Would that truly fix anything? Would the world and its global population be any better off with Europe and America on their knees, with every European descendant on the planet handing over half their current wealth to a global fund to make restitution for historical injustices? Two continents in debt for centuries to come because of their military colonial history and having human wisdom and morals finally catching up and deciding this is something wrong ? Why not impoverish Asia too we’re at it since they are no strangers to the art of conquest and territory grabbing. I notice many formerly sovereign peoples living in fear under another’s banner.

    I still believe we can only make corrections within an economically viable framework, prevent new injustices from occurring and hope to give those previously disadvantaged the opportunities that others of us have had so they may also attempt to make the best of themselves.

    On another point, I’m not trying to justify slavery, but in an historical context, by whatever justification at the time, it has been used for the subjugation of weaker civilisations since time immemorial. It has absolutely no basis in science, or by scientists, whose self-stated role has always been to observe, record and understand by scientific method. In fact it was evolutionary scientists who refuted such dogma as those justifying eugenics or explaining as less evolved the new and diverse races they found, even before the Second World War. You are maligning a neutral group of learned people over the justification by ignorant policy-makers and other influential people. Yes, they may have been European, they may have been educated and they were certainly wealthy, but they most definitely were not scientists. Even Charles Darwin, who was a scientist of the first order remarked that a singular virtue of the human species compared to other life-forms was their ability to care for and assist those who were disadvantaged for one reason or another. If there’s a true evil on this planet, it is those who would twist an observation of nature to justify cruelty and aggression over weaker people, however that is not the scientific community and to claim otherwise is complete ignorance of the facts.

    Returning to topic, we whites in Zimbabwe, at least the vast majority of us, DO understand that land re-distribution is essential for democracy and equal opportunity. It WAS being done, in a manner that was supposed to bring an equitable solution for the disadvantaged Zimbabwean population in the “Willing buyer, willing seller” programme. However, it was due to the lack of transparency and the blatant corruption in government that squandered the 10s of millions of pounds donated by Britain and other donor countries to help pay for this redistribution and it was only in the late 90s when Britain and other donor countries who attended the donor conference, and who wanted assurances that their donations for this exercise was being put to the intended use were rebuffed that this programme was halted. Farming land in post 1980 Zimbabwe has always required a “Certificate of no interest” provided by the government in order for the sale to another private individual to happen. Many of those farmers whose assets were stolen, vandalised and destroyed had these certificates and purchased their land, (with the appropriate taxes to government being paid,) with the full acceptance of the Zimbabwean government. Did they deserve the treatment they received at the hands of the rent-a-thugs who invaded land which they believed they had purchased with the full blessing of the government? Even white farmers and their families who had voluntarily donated land for resettlement were terrorised and tormented until they left. Ironically, a few of those farmers have emigrated to other African countries where they are now contributing to the growth of their economies and providing employment and food security to formerly disadvantaged people there, whilst at home some of the black invaders are themselves being invaded by high-ranking government officials and their rent-a-thugs in order to take over new farms, putting paid to a policy of giving everything to those who need the resources the most.

    Much the same will happen with mines, followed by the commercial sector. They have made their intentions clear, blindly supported by people like you who have zero understanding of the fragility of the economy after a decade and more of sabotage by both persons within the Zimbabwean government, as well to a lesser extent, refusal by some countries to do business with elements of the state because they disagreed with our government’s methodology. I’m not an economist, but I do remember every single time during the economic chaos of the last decade, that the government introduced another mad, ill-conceived policy, our queues got longer, our shelves emptier, and the vehicles of government connected people, like their mansions, grew bigger and shinier. Then, as now, policies which benefit the well off whilst circumventing the genuine requirements of needy leave the nation in a poorer position than before. The nouveau riche will continue to get richer from the most productive sectors and siphon the profits from them out of the local economy, whilst a token few disadvantaged will be given other lesser businesses which require far more investment, skills and resources, and of which, several are likely to fail because they are not viable having their profits halved again.

    Meanwhile, the actual new colonisers of Africa, the Chinese government (not her people, because I actually have a great admiration for their culture and I do not think they have any more choice over their government’s decisions than you do over any of the conflicts your nation is involved in,) they who are afforded protection by those in power from our own laws even to the extent where labourers have been abused, they will continue to extract Zimbabwe’s and other African nation’s raw materials and agricultural produce (just as the Europeans have done before them,) with zero internal value addition, padding the pockets of those in power and paying the equivalent of modern-day glass baubles for what they take away.

    When I talk of global citizenship, it is a personal philosophy that I hold, since I treasure all of mankind as being of one eventual ancestry where historic evidence suggests began in Africa. It probably has very little place in this discussion, suffice to say there is one quote which illustrates my position: “We do not inherit this world from our parents; we borrow it from our children.” The best I can hope to achieve is to leave my environment a little better off for my being here and to give my children the best opportunity to succeed and do the same. However, every one of us does have a global footprint, our actions and deeds are not localised to one tiny area as evidenced by global warming, or global economics and consumerism, or any other of a number of factors where cause and effect cross borders. At the end of the day I believe my personal experience and wisdom is enhanced by the amalgamation of global cultural influences I have the opportunity to interact with and it is that which allows me to appreciate our diversity, even within the microcosm of where I live.

    It is a shame some earlier civilisations embarked on a quest of empire building and conquest before understanding this, but to suggest it was only the Europeans who should pay the price for this is to ignore the actions of many and majority of the of the past 100,000 years of history even to where we exterminated another intelligent and empathic species in the form of the European Neanderthal when we began to spread out from our African birthplace all those tens of thousands of years ago.

    Perhaps you Mark, should take a long hard look at yourself too. Find your historical connection to the here and now, because when taking all of our very diverse races’ actions as a whole, I find very few who have never at one point or another had any of their ancestors involved in the subjugation and control of others, or have benefitted in some way from others’ misfortunes.

    I have confronted my past, including the historical actions of my ancestry and while I accept there are certainly those who were not ideal examples of humanity, I can be proud of the fact that none of my immediate family has ever been involved in racist activities nor have any of us believed in an innate superiority of ourselves over others. Since I was born in a post independent Zimbabwe, I do not believe I have had any wrongs committed in my name during my lifetime, nor have I got anything today that I did not earn myself, apart from my family, my education, and my health. I obviously haven’t confronted my government, which is the Zimbabwean government, and the Zimbabwean President is my president, not some foreign European government as you would seem to derisively and arrogantly suggest. This would be due to the nature of my government, one known to wield the arms of power with just as much ruthlessness and vigour as the USA or Soviet Russia used to wield their own armed forces during the cold war.

    Putting that aside though, why don’t you come visit our wonderful country and meet us in arenas where our diverse local cultures engage on an equal footing, where we appreciate and are improved by our sharing of cultures. Watch us cheering our home team on at a cricket game, or eating out at a restaurant, or at a theatrical play or dancing to one of our many talented artists during a concert performance. Come and visit us during our Harare International Festival of Arts where arm in arm we cheer and dance and sing in a multitude of cultural styles. Why don’t you come and see the best of us working together in tandem for the betterment of us all in Zimbabwe, instead of pontificating from your very high horse about something you seem to have precious little local knowledge about. Criticising all paled skinned Zimbabweans because of events preceding many of ours’ existence or perhaps because of the sentiments of a tiny minority located within a minority itself who share a pale skin but have a self serving superiority complex. I have no idea what your ancestral background is, neither do I care because I grew up being taught by my parents that we were all the same beneath the pigment content of our skin, but don’t you think you’re being just a slight bit condescending and discriminatory by laying all the blame and the obligation to pay for the past on us while you and others in Europe continue to benefit from the past too?

  11. Hi Tom,

    I accept your point regarding the ‘settlers’ reference.

    As for your statement that you are not responsible for the actions of your ancestors, it seems to contradict your thoughts regarding seeing all humanity as equal and a global citizenship. Surely the wisdom you have required would inform you that your status was off the blood and impoverishment of others.

    Europeans have dominated world events and shaped it since the 1600s, as a result of that domination the conflicts between India and Pakistan, the conflicts in Africa, and nearly all conflicts in today’s world is as a result of European empire building and colonialism. To borrow a phrase from you, Europeans have left a destructively, gigantic ‘carbon footprint’ which cannot be ignored or compared to other nations. Europeans shaped the modern world as we know it and its system of economic exploitation. That is not to say that only Europeans should repay a moral and financial debt on a global scale to bankrupt them, but it is saying that Europeans should recognise what was done in their name and confront the institutions and governments that use this excuse to plunder the wealth of non white nations.

    I am a beneficiary of European imperialism by default as my ancestors was placed in chains and sold into slavery, and I would be willing to share my proceeds to create a more equal world despite being the victim, will Europeans do the same?

    It still sends a chill down my spine that only three generations ago in my family we were in chains. My great grandmother was in chains and treated as an animal with no intelligence or humanity. I would definately not consider myself a willing beneficiary in European imperialism.

    As for your slavery comment, I disagree. Western science continues to hark back to racial differences and the inferiority of other races, specifically African.

    American DNA pioneer Dr James Watson is one example of how reputable Western scientists continue to use science to justify the alleged inferiority of Africans. The IQ debate regarding race in America (The Bell Curve) continues to shape the public and academic mind regarding intelligence and race. This is to demonstrate how race science continues to play a role in science to this very day, it is not to say that all European scientists are racist.

    I acknowledge that President Mugabe may have abused his leadership, although I do not believe that Britain, America or any other European country really has the interests of whites who live in Zimbabwe at heart, as I stated in my article Mugabe’s land reform program was a threat in general to Western interests in Africa, as the threat of the domino effect would have crippled Western interests in Africa. I also acknowledge that some whites supported Mugabe during his land redistribution policy, but it goes back to my point, if you ignore the crimes committed by your ancestors this is what will happen.

    If you read this article you will see that I mention China as one of the countries buying up African land for export whilst African people starve. I say it as I see it, there are no preferences.

    A global citizenship can only be built if their is a global morality that binds us all, and at this time I question whether most Europeans and individuals like yourself are willing to confront the Western corporate forces which dominate the global economy at the expense of millions of non whites.

    Tom, if you cannot see why talking about peace and equality after the fact is a glaring contradiction, then it explains why animosities remain high between Europeans and Africans today. Obviously, there is no understanding or even an attempt of understanding to see where the victims are coming from.

    I value your contributions to this debate and I hope readers can learn and contribute on what we have both said.

  12. Hi Mark,

    I do believe that the majority of European descendants in today’s world do recognise, understand and have admitted to many of the moral and ethical wrongs committed in our historical past by generations before us. Some even, within our recent memories. Enslavement, war, plunder, theft, pollution, destruction, the list is very long and very shaming.

    It is also, for the most part, historical. As you say, Europeans have dominated world events and shaped it since the 1600s, even before. The advent of intercontinental travel brought a myriad of despairs to diverse peoples across the planet. Internal conflicts between European countries were exported and foreign territories and their inhabitants plundered and exploited, more often than not to pay for the conflicts in the first place. Colonisation forced self-aggrandising people on unwilling inhabitants with military might. It’s a truly disgusting record in history which took a particularly harsh toll on the African continent and her people. Communities ripped apart and compartmentalised, their traditions trampled on, displacement from their resources, contact with foreign infectious diseases are among the many horrific tragedies that occurred in the name of European superiority.

    I would argue now that the majority of us, as a global society, have progressed. That we understand there is no racial superiority, and by inference no ‘ordained’ authority over others because of our supposed ‘superior’ biological inheritance. Our found your link to the BBC news story very disturbing, especially as the sentiments therein came from a respected scientist who should have had the education and understanding to know better. It should be noted though, his comments were not related to his field of research and it was therefore not a scientific opinion he was expressing. The unfortunate side-effect is that, as someone from a reputable field, his remarks carry undue weight and could be used to reaffirm uninformed and racist opinions. From what I can gather from a quick search, the scientific fields related to understanding intelligence dynamics across populations cannot agree on a genetic cluster exclusive to one racial identity which would provide evidence of an intelligence advantage. Although there are disparities among tested groups, the consensus appears to be that there are many environmental factors affecting the “Bell Curve” which are yet to be fully understood. For instance, tests also point to higher scores being achieved by those of Asian ancestry, but if results were being manipulated for racist reasons, wouldn’t it be more likely for Europeans to place themselves at the top of results? Regardless, whether it’s environmental, like education, surroundings, health or diet, or just institutional bias in the tests themselves, the scientific evidence seems to be pointing out that there is a problem that needs understanding of all the factors involved to figure out.

    One racial identity should never oppress another, nor any other perceived group, and we should all be able to exercise free will over our destinies in a responsible manner. This is obviously an idealistic, and some would say naive, position, but fundamentally, isn’t this lack of responsible and humane free will the root cause leading to these historic and current atrocities?

    Slavery is an interesting point in this regard. I can only imagine the terrible trauma to those and their relatives who have ever had to suffer from its effects. However, it is something which was acceptable to the majority of cultures on the planet, almost, since the birth of agriculture. Humans have been subjugating other humans with the support of their leaders and cultures from beyond recorded history. Unfortunate Africa has borne the brunt of this barbaric trade from biblical times, through to the Islamic domination of North and Central Africa where millions of people were enslaved, and onwards to the Atlantic Triangle and effects of global colonisation encouraged by a perceived racial superiority. There is an irony in that it was a black man in Virginia who introduced the first permanent slaves to America, and bearing in mind that it was nearly always black Africans who captured sold other black Africans to the Europeans and Arabs for goods, I don’t think the blame can be laid only on Europeans for the events that transpired. The slave trade had always been a global business and it is a failure in the historical cultures of all the populations that condoned or participated in it.

    As with the modern revulsion of the slave trade, so to have many new ethics and moralities become the accepted norm over the past few hundred years, the majority of which have developed over the last century. Everything from abolition to universal suffrage to workers’ rights and everything else we collectively call human rights have come about as our understanding of ourselves and nature has developed, largely, I believe, through more informed ideas made possible by advances made in the sciences.

    In the 50s, Britain had already determined to follow a policy of majority rule in her colonies. Whether genuinely, or only as an overt ideal for the masses with something more contrived and sinister that her leaders thought they could use to control events by other means, only those responsible could ever tell us for sure. However it is an idea that has taken hold and spread like wildfire bringing other new ideas to our cultural conscience. States progressively gained independence from former colonising countries, but we are still left with many artefacts from that era, including the glaring disparities in resource allocation and the trans-located populations around the world.

    These are all accepted facts, with which I’m sure you’ll agree. However, not everyone were the primary beneficiaries of those resources. Sure there were many, especially those who arrived and colonised areas first, those who were given concessions and ownership over much of the natural resources like mines and arable land, but there are many more people, mostly from lower and middle income backgrounds who, when they arrived, had to start from scratch and build their own businesses and carve out their own existence too. Immigrants who had never been involved in the discriminatory policies of the time, except in that they had an opportunity in an undeveloped area to make the best they could from their own initiative and skills. Still others came along and ended up working for the new businesses as ordinary employees, working their way up as would happen anywhere else.

    Exploitation of hired labour or being gifted resources was not a universal phenomenon perpetrated by every single European immigrant to Africa and to suggest otherwise would be a fallacy. I’d wager that the majority of European descendants paid fair value at the time for what they acquired, albeit to the wrong land owners. Bearing in mind that in Zimbabwe’s case, that monies and taxes were paid to an entity which became the state, it could be argued, the country’s economy, as inherited by today’s government, had gained with property duly paid for.

    This is why I say there is no way to justly apportion blame on today’s generation. Zimbabwe today is a multicultural society comprised of populations from many diverse cultures, including mixed backgrounds. The timelines prevent any true disentanglement of those responsible for the policies enacted from those who came in good faith and tried to live good and just lives.

    (I realise this is a long-winded thread, but I feel the historical context needs to be given due prominence.)

    This legislation is not designed to empower, it is designed to oppress. Blanket and discriminatory legislation is being offered as a solution to correct all the social failures and imbalances caused by the events of the past.

    According to the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, an “indigenous Zimbabwean” is defined as follows: “any person who, before the 18th April, 1980, was disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the grounds of his or her race, and any descendant of such person, and includes any company, association, syndicate or partnership of which indigenous Zimbabweans form the majority of the members or hold the controlling interest”

    According to this description from the legislation, you Mark are an “indigenous Zimbabwean” and entitled to all the benefits and advantages that the act describes. This also applies to any and all descendants of any race from any region of the world exclusive of perceived European descendants. ‘Perceived’, because race and racial discrimination are social constructs, not factually based on scientific evidence. For instance many mixed heritage descendants were not discriminated against because they were able to pass as ordinary whites.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, the legislation also prohibits those perceived not to have been discriminated against from owning businesses, including small sole proprietorships, in many named sectors of the economy. If this were to be fully enacted, how many people would lose their livelihoods? What downstream effects would there be from the removal of these artisans, professionals and so on from the country’s economy? I’m not talking about the mines or the farms because I maintain there is still an effective solution to be found to ensure that the Zimbabwean population benefit from their resources. For instance, perhaps equitable deals can be renegotiated for the vast land areas being purchased by those multinational corporations you linked to earlier as well? What I am referring to are the Zimbabwean doctors, lawyers, mechanics, hairdressers, shop owners, artists, and so on that will be discriminated against based solely on their ‘perceived’ ancestry.

    This is no historical correction and victory for the downtrodden, it is something concocted with the same malice and spite that some Europeans performed in the past, only this time the current proponents of it do not have the excuse of ignorance.

    Another thing is it won’t be the primary benefactors of colonialism who will be hurt. They will remove the assets they can, move on somewhere else and carry on as before. It’s not a coincidence that the same people who made fortunes busting sanctions for the Rhodesian government during UDI are the same people continuing to make fortunes with the current government and other pariah states.

    It will be the middle-income and low-income families which will be affected most, those likely to have gained the least from the past discrimination and who may even have been discriminated against due to their perceived status. How, in any way will this type of legislation bring divergent groups together to work and develop in harmony? I contend it will only likely breed more tension, hatred and distrust to our world.

    As worded, how can anything else in the document be taken seriously in today’s morals and values? How would you ever be able to look your grandchildren in the eye and tell them that you, once a victim of discrimination, were perfectly happy to see it perpetrated on possible innocents.

    While I believe there is absolutely no doubt that my existence today in the country I call home is directly related to the horrific series of events during the colonisation of Africa, and that possibly in the distant past some member of my family, for whom I have no historical record nor living memory, may have inflicted an injustice upon another, I reaffirm that the sins of the father are not inherited by the son. The daughter of a rape victim cannot seek redress from the son of the rapist, and nor can the relatives of a thief be demanded to repay damages to the victim’s family when it can’t be proved they were complicit. I can’t think of a single progressive culture that aspires to hold the opposite true. Vengeance is a very different thing to compensation and can only lead to continued misery. Having grown up in a post-colonial and much more enlightened world, doing the best I can with my abilities and compassion for my family, my friends and the people of my country, that I’ve earned the right to be called a Zimbabwean and should enjoy the same rights given to all Zimbabweans, indigenous or not, including the right not to be discriminated against.

    Lastly, I want to thank you too, Mark, for providing constructive feedback, giving me an alternative frame of reference from which to look at the problems bedevilling our progress, and of course for your patience reading my long ramblings to begin with. Reading back through it all, I think some of what I’ve said may have sounded harsher than was the intention when writing it and I hope this hasn’t discouraged you from understanding my perspective. I believe there is room for continued dialogue to seek a way forward together, which both encourages equilibrium and raises awareness of past mistakes. In doing so we may avoid making them in the future, and develop sound strategies to correct the imbalances of the past.

  13. Hi Tom,

    I do not believe the majority of Europeans recognise the effects European colonialism and slavery has had on Africans all over the world. This is demonstrated by the fact that many whites still hold your view that Africans shared some responsibility for the trans-atlantic slave trade, and that everyone was at one time slaves. If I were to say that because Jews sold other Jews out to the death camps they were partially responsible for the Holocaust I would be labelled an anti semite and would have to stand trial. I notice that whites rarely apply the same rules to the Jewish Holocaust as they have done to African slavery. There is clearly a contradiction.

    If the majority of Europeans recognised what has been done to other races in the name of alleged European superiority there would be far less opposition to immigration and immigrants and greater understanding of other cultures, but this is not the case. The European press continue to have front page headlines screaming about the uncontrolled birth rates of non whites, and European governments continue to use immigration as a vote winning topic in major elections. This is a far cry from the understanding you convey Tom, it simply does not add up.

    I provided the BBC link regarding Dr Watson’s racist theories to show you that racist science has not died, nor will it for some time. We have no idea of knowing how many individuals in the scientific community actually share Dr Watson’s views, but on a common basis white people have held the belief that Africa and Africans continue to be in poverty because of a lower intelligence. They fail to recognise the glaring evidence which shows that European intelligence organisations have assassinated progressive African leaders (read and deliberately kept the African continent in debt through mechanisms such as the IMF and World Bank.

    During economic hard times such as the one we are experiencing at this time there is a surge in far right support among whites all over Europe and the rest of the Western world. Where is the understanding you speak of?

    The human rights you speak of was thought up by the very people that oppressed and continue to oppress other nations, to call it progress is far-fetched, and much like referring to laws thought up by rapists as progress for women rights.

    A few people would refute your statement that all societies have practised slavery and subjugated other people at one time or another, but should that excuse the barbarity of what a particular race has done to another? I find myself repeating the same thoughts to individuals like yourself. Europeans took slavery to a new level. Africans were ripped of their culture, name, humanity, religion and families, and set apart from all races through alleged science. Your failure to accept this and attempt to highlight how other Africans played a part demonstrates the lack of empathy or understanding on your part regarding that horrific period in human history.

    Are you saying that a few Jews who colloborated with the Nazis means that Jews are partly responsible for the death camps Tom? Why do individuals like yourself change the goal posts when it comes to the African Holocaust?

    I understand and have never said that all Europeans took part in slavery but all Europeans have benefited from the proceeds of slavery directly or indirectly. The standard of living Europeans have today has been possible because of the exploitation of the colonies. In a book titled “Labour A Party Fit For Imperialism”, by Robert Clough in 1992, the author demonstrates how the British government plundered the colonies after World War II to build the social welfare state so many take for granted today. Clough said, “The 1945-51 Labour governments had laid the basis of the post-war boom by…making sure that the empire paid for the costs of reconstruction on the other…Hence the living standards of the British working class did not suffer during this period of reconstruction: the fruits of empire had been sufficient for British imperialism to make the neccessary concessions domestically necessary to ensure relative social peace”. (P.155.156)

    The Zimbabwe Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act is no different to when the British government call for British jobs for British workers, or when the British government want British companies to be owned by British people. Let us be honest, Mugabe is doing what European governments have been doing for years, giving preference to their own race. You must first tackle Western govenments and their policies of racial exclusivity before you judge Mugabe.

    Mugabe may have abused the land redistribution policy so I take your thoughts on board in regards to that point, but I would be very careful to accept statistics and claims made by anti Mugabe opponents who are supported by the West, something I mention in the above article.

    Elected officials on a fact-finding mission to the Republic of Zimbabwe from October 11, 2002 to October 23, 2002 concluded differently from what you say and the Western media. The elected officials include Council Member Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), Council Member James Davis (D-Brooklyn), Assembly Member Adam Clayton Powell IV (D-Harlem) and State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago).

    They met Mugabe, his government, war veterans, black peasant farmers who had received land and opposition groups and this is what they found. They said:

    “We had a meeting with the President and Director of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), Colin Cloete and David Hasluck respectively, which in hindsight turned out to be very critical and significant. Hasluck acknowledged that the British government, under Prime Minister Tony Blair, has ignored the history and colonial legacy of the land question. The British government’s rejection of any compensation also led to the current stalemate with the Zimbabwean government. Government officials including President Mugabe later informed the delegation that had the CFU adopted a joint policy with the government the likelihood of success in securing British compensation would have vastly increased. Within days of the statement by the CFU leadership, Lord Carrington, who had presided over the Lancaster negotiations, made a speech in the British Parliament urging Tony Blair to compensate white farmers. In the 22 year period since Zimbabwe’s independence, the British government provided 35 million pounds sterling for land acquisition in Zimbabwe. In contrast to this, Kenya, which became independent in 1963 and also had a white minority population controlling most of the land received 532 million pounds in just 10 years.”

    They added, “We also found that despite a steady flow of Western media reports of a lawless, free-for-all land grab of commercial farms, this is not the case at all. There is in fact, a very systematic organized program in place. Minister Joseph Made, who is imminently qualified with a Master’s degree and PhD in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin, one of the world’s leading agricultural institutions, gave the delegation a very detailed presentation about the specifics of the land reform program. The two main objectives of the program were decongestion of communal areas and decentralization of the commercial farm areas from the white minority to the people of Zimbabwe.”

    A crucially important point is where they say:

    “We also found that nobody disagrees with the justice of land reform in Zimbabwe. Everyone we met with, including white farmers and officials of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supports land redistribution. There are more than 1,500 white Zimbabwean farmers who continue to actively farm their land in peace even after having part of their land acquired for resettlement. The charges of a brutal “ethnic cleansing,” as alleged by the Australian government for example, is a gross distortion of what is actually happening. We can only assume that such charges are politically motivated. Commercial farmers are not being forced out of their homes and onto the streets with nowhere to go. They are simply being asked to choose which farm they would like to keep and they are then compensated for the infrastructure on the remaining land acquired by the government. Oftentimes, the cost of compensation for complicated infrastructure systems far exceeded the cost of the land alone.”

    They found insufficient evidence that mugabe gave land to his own family alone and his supporters, again another concoction by the Western media. In the year 2000 310,000 Zimbabwean families were resettled as a result of land redistribution. Read the report here:

    I emphasise again Tom, that if you do not believe that the sins of the father is visited upon the descendents then your argument about progress makes no sense whatsoever. If we cannot learn from history then we are doomed to repeat it. The daughter of a rape victim can seek redress from the son of the rapist if he happens to have items belonging to her mother, and if he happens to be living in the house her mother owned which he took by force. Again, you fail to make the connection and this is preventing the progress you speak of.

    I want to thank you too Tom, for debating an extremely sensitive topic in a civilised fashion without resorting to insults. I agree, that debates like this should provide a platform for progress and a way forward and I hope it continues along that path, and of course I hope for input from others.

  14. Hi Tom, I am a black Zimbabwean. I have to agree with Mark that the British, EU and US dont give a damn about whites living in Zimbabwe. White Zimbabweans are in a wilderness if you look at it. The IEEA I thought was meant for multinationals and listed companies but if it means you cant own a hair saloon, restaurant etc. then it is a travesty, are you sure this is the case? I doubt! Unlike Red Indians and others, Zimbabweans have the power to repossess their land which was taken in well documented events. If we can then why not take what is ours, would you not do the same? I dont sympathise with anyone on this case.

    By the way I don’t hate white people I’m just a sceptic as to whether their racist tendencies died with their grandfathers. If Mugabe was half the devil they say he is then they should have toppled him by now.They havent because they have no case. Zimbabwean whites are still racist, always moving to new suburbs when the black population increases or increasing the tuiton fees of the ‘white’ schools to no avail. Very few blacks benefited from the farms as they were only 6000 available. Most of us are hardworking, went to the worst schools but managed to get a good education and living and are not politically oriented. For most black people the only whites they have seen are Catholic priests. What I’m saying is please stop hating us because we don’t have anything with you, distinguish between the government and ordinary black Zimbabweans and then maybe things can get better should governments change

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