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Africa's only free state

By Andile Mngxitama
Often when I give public talks, I shock my audience by stating emphatically that Zimbabwe is the only liberated country in black Africa. Generally, my audience claps heatedly - more so if it's predominantly black. Immediately there will be hostile comments and questions from some. How dare I say that when President Mugabe is oppressing his people and all the Zimbabweans have run away from their country because of hunger created deliberately by Mugabe and his cronies?

They also say that only President Mugabe and his friends took the land. I start by explaining that Zimbabweans are 300 years ahead of black South Africans.

They have their country back, while black South Africans are landless, unemployed squatters crammed in townships with no hope, despite having the best constitution on earth. I ask my audience if its not progress that the Zimbabweans have been able to redistribute land from 4 000 white settlers who owned 80 percent of Zimbabwe until around the year 2000?

Now, more than 380 000 black households own the land. On food production and hunger, I ask if people didn't know about the international sanctions against Zimbabwe, not just the leaders.

I then concede that Zanu-PF didn't handle the whole land redistribution business effectively, they neglected to immediately invest in land to support new landholders to at least keep production at acceptable levels. But I then tell them that things are changing rapidly in Zimbabwe, this progress is now admitted even by the New York Times, which ran a big story on how tobacco and milk production in Zimbabwe are of a high quality and already reaching pre-land reform crisis production levels.

Is it not progress that from 2 000 white dairy farmers who made all the money for themselves, now there is more than 50 000 black dairy farmers? The same with tobacco which is a big foreign exchange earner. Again, from being dominated by a few super rich white farmers, it's now benefiting more than 60 000 black farmers.

To recognise these positive developments is not to deny that there are problems in Zimbabwe. It's not to deny that there is a need to reform both the political system and to stabilise the economy further.

But we have to contend with a simple truth - that Zimbabwe has now resolved its colonial heritage and that black Zimbabweans by and large are a truly free people. You can even see it in their walk and confidence of expression. Yes, there is still a lot of work to be done, but in another five to 10 years, the beauty of the revolution that has happened in front of our eyes will make our country look like a bantustan.

The difference between the ANC and Zanu-PF is that the ANC is engulfed by narrow greed and fear to offend white interests. Zanu-PF, on the other hand, has a sense of history and vision for the future. We continue to refuse to learn from Zimbabwe at our own peril.

Right now, their indigenisation law has forced mining companies to give Zimbabweans a 51 percent majority ownership. - Sowetan.





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