Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sanctions won’t derail land reforms -Zim minister

Sanctions won’t derail land reforms -Zim minister
By Brighton Phiri
Tuesday August 14, 2007 [04:00]

THE British sanctions will not succeed in derailing our land reforms, visiting Zimbabwean Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick Chinamasa said yesterday. And the British High Commission in Lusaka has stated that there are no European Union (EU) and United Kingdom sanctions (UK) against Zimbabwe.

In an interview, Chinamasa, who is in the country for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) summit, said there was no compromise on the land issue in Zimbabwe.

"People died over our land...Citizens in Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique suffered over our land and their suffering will not be in vain," Chinamasa said.
He said the Zimbabwean government would not abandon its land reforms despite continued sanctions by the British, EU and US governments because it was near its completion stage.

"The land exercise is near complete. We have taken 11 million hectres of land and redistributed it to our people. The land redistribution exercise is irreversible. Anyone who seeks to reverse it will start another mother of all battles," he said.

He said Zimbabwe was under siege and an unprecedented onslaught by the British, EU and American governments for daring to reclaim its heritage and repossession of its land.
Chinamasa said the world should be mindful that Zimbabwe had an opposition political party, which was founded, sponsored and was being financed from outside by the British and American intelligence agencies to effect illegal regime change.

He said the Zimbabwe crisis was entirely a foreign induced situation where external interests intended to achieve the agenda of effecting regime change.
"Of course they will not succeed because Zimbabwe came through the barrel of the gun. That is how Zimbabwe came into being," he said.

Chinamasa maintained that the British, EU governments and US had imposed both declared and undeclared economic and political sanctions on Zimbabwe.
He cited the US congress' enactment of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, as one of the actions through which any form of trade between Zimbabwe and any international institution where the US has representation was banned.
"Under such Act, we can not obtain any loan from British and European banks," he said.
He accused the British-owned businesses in Zimbabwe of abandoning their objective of profit making and embarking on a campaign to effect regime change through manipulation of prices.

"Since the industries are from Britain and America, they are also denying us spare parts for the machinery. So we have a situation where industries cannot operate due to lack of spare parts," he said.

Chinamasa dismissed a British High Commission statement that the British government had honoured its promise over the land reforms in Zimbabwe.
He explained that the British and American governments made undertakings to make funds available to the Zimbabwean government to pay compensation to white settlers in order for them to release their land to the landless black Zimbabweans.

He said the undertaking, which was made by Lord Carrington for the British and Ambassador Eddie Young for the American government, collapsed when former British prime minister, Tony Blair took over leadership from Conservative leader John Major.
He said Blair refused to meet President Mugabe to discuss the matter since he assumed office.

"Something that we found as offensive. The Blair government also sent us through Overseas Development Affairs secretary Clair Short a crude letter to indicate that the British had no colonial obligation to Zimbabwe," he said. " Tell the British High Commissioner that he must lie to the international community that they have honoured what they promised," he said

He reminded SADC leaders that the Zimbabwe crisis was not for Zimbabwe alone but it was likely to spread in the region.

"My message to our SADC leaders is that political independence alone is not enough. If as a community we are to take our rightful place in the world, our indigenous population must achieve economic independence such that our economies must be owned by indigenous people," he said. "We are yet to see how the problem in Namibia and South Africa unfolds. South Africans at the time of their independence, they were in a worse situation than Zimbabweans. Over 85 per cent of land is still owned by the whites. The blacks do not own anything. So we are interested to see how that problem will unfold in South Africa. I hope they will learn a lesson from our struggle."

In a statement released in Lusaka, the British High Commission stated that under the EU common position, 130 people (mostly prominent members of ZANU (PF)) were subject to a visa-ban from entering the EU and that their assets were frozen.
"There is also a ban on arms sales to Zimbabwe. The EU Common Position has been in place for 5 years and the number of those on the list was extended again this year.
"There are no UK or EU economic sanctions on Zimbabwe. The EU targeted measures focus on those who profit from President Mugabe's regime not the ordinary people," read the statement.

The Commisson stated that UK had always recognised the need for an equitable redistribution of land, but that it had to be done in a transparent and legal manner.
"Mugabe's land grabs have destroyed a once vibrant agricultural sector, and Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of southern Africa, cannot feed its own people," read the statement.

The British High Commission stated that Britain stood by the Lancaster House Agreement, recognition that the land issue was at the heart of the problem in Zimbabwe.

"Following Lancaster House, the UK provided £47 million for land reform to Zimbabwe, £3 million of which was returned unspent in 1996," he said.

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