Monday, March 19, 2007

Zimbabwe - Claire Short's Letter Nov 5th 1997

5 November 1997
From the Secretary of State
Hon Kumbirai Kangai MP
Minister of Agriculture and Land
Dear Minister

George Foulkes has reported to me on the meeting which you and Hon John Nkomo had with Tony Lloyd and him during your recent visit. I know that President Mugabe also discussed the land issue with the Prime Minister briefly during their meeting. It may be helpful if I record where matters now rest on the issue.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Tony Blair said that he looked forward to developing a new basis for relations with Commonwealth countries founded upon our government's policies, not on the past.

We will set out our agenda for international development in a White Paper to be published this week. The central thrust of this will be the development of partnerships with developing countries which are committed to eradicate poverty, and have their own proposals for achieving that which we and other donors can support.

I very much hope that we will be able to develop such a relationship with Zimbabwe. I understand that you aim shortly to publish your own policies on economic management and poverty reduction. I hope that we can discuss them with you and identify areas where we are best able to help. I mentioned this in my letter on 31 August to Hon Herbert Murarwa.

I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not colonisers.

We do, however, recognise the very real issues you face over land reform. We believe that land reform could be an important component of a Zimbabwean programme designed to eliminate poverty. We would be prepared to support a programme of land reform that was part of a poverty eradication strategy but not on any other basis.

I am told Britain provided a package of assistance for resettlement in the period immediately following independence. This was, I gather, carefully planned and implemented, and met most of its targets.

Again, I am told there were discussions in 1989 and 1996 to explore the possibility of further assistance. However that is all in the past.

If we look to the present, a number of specific issues are unresolved, including the way in which land would be acquired and compensation paid - clearly it would not help the poor of Zimbabwe if it was done in a way which undermined investor confidence.

Other questions that would need to be settled would be to ensure that the process was completely open and transparent, including the establishment of a proper land register.

Individual schemes would have to be economically justified to ensure that the process helped the poor, and for me the most important issue is that any programme must be planned as part of a programme to contribute to the goal of eliminating poverty. I would need to consider detailed proposals on these issues before confirming further British support for resettlement.

I am sure that a carefully worked out programme of land reform that was part of a programme of poverty eradication which we could support would also bring in other donors, whose support would help ensure that a substantial land resettlement programme such as you clearly desire could be undertaken successfully. If is [sic] to do so, they too will need to be involved from the start.

It follows from this that a programme of rapid land acquisition as you now seem to envisage would be impossible for us to support. I know that many of Zimbabwe's friends share our concern about the damage which this might do to Zimbabwe's agricultural output and its prospects of attracting investment.

I thought it best to be frank about where we are. If you think it would be helpful, my officials are ready to meet yours to discuss these issues.

Yours sincerely

Claire Short

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5 Comments:

At 10:01 PM , Blogger MrK said...

Especially this segment is telling:

" I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not colonisers. "

Tony Blair's 1997 New Labour government was the first leftwing government into office since Edward Heath came to power in 1976. They were obviously going to do things differently, but they seem to be the first to spell out that they were not going to compensate white farmers in the 'willing buyer willing seller' scheme.

The truth is that the money wasn't there in Zimbabwe to buy it's millions of hectares back at market value, and it wasn't even there in Britain, conservative government or not.

So if there was never going to be a 'willing buyer willing seller' scheme, people should step forward and say so, and admit that this was just a sop buy the British to smooth things over with their own settler/House of Lords constituency.

It is time to stop blaming President Mugabe, and start redistributing land in a vigorous manner.

 
At 1:49 AM , Anonymous TENDAI said...

Theres no where safe for the zimbabweans.
was it right for the US to invade Iraq? NO
were the kurds happy? yes
have they become any better? no
before the invasion would anyone have convinced the Kurds of the possible outcome? no.
thats the story in Zimbabwe if it was all just land,it would help,
through all the fancy words the bitter pill is for those who are seriously suffering and dying of hanger.
I dont have solutions for Zimbabwe and no one has!
assuming mugabe stayed on what will happen, is the looting of the central bank all due to the external influence? I cant answer that.
we are not seeking for sympathy or looking for well wishers, luck of food and fuel etc is affecting all including the Mugabes,
yes to most black africa hes a hero for standing up to the western world who gave us a raw deal, but then were do we go from here.
as far as most zimbabeans are concerned and am not talking of bloggers and those who had money to flee and plead asylum, but those on the ground even MDC is a joker and so is Mugabe.
its painful when the world thinks you are all asking for there help and mercy.
Zimbabwe will get out of this mess and we will regain our status too! its just a phase.
we all know it will be painful.

 
At 4:54 PM , Blogger MrK said...

" " through all the fancy words the bitter pill is for those who are seriously suffering and dying of hanger. I dont have solutions for Zimbabwe and no one has! " Actually there are many ways to move on from here. "

Actually there are many constructive ways forward from here. The following should help:

1) The recognition that the land redistribution exercise is legitimate and must be supported

2) The mechanization of agriculture in Zimbabwe must be supported

3) The AU, SADC, ADB should get together and support Zimbabwe and help it back on it's feet

4) An end to sanctions

5) Normalisation of relationships with Zimbabwe.

There are a lot of things that can be done, and that have nothing to do with the victimisation of Zimbabwe or Robert Mugabe through sanctions.

 
At 9:58 PM , Blogger MrK said...

The 'very light sanctions against Zimbabwe' include ZDERA, which prohibits the government of Zimbabwe from borrowing from a slew of international financial institutions.

This created it's original balance of payment crisis, and is the reason why they are now borrowing from the Chinese.

Job well done.

 
At 1:27 PM , Blogger Murenga said...

This letter is equivalent to a declaration of war, i.e., the resumption of the liberation struggle. This is so precisely because, the reason why ZANLA and ZANU, ZAPU and ZIPRA, downed their arms of war was the promise by Brittain and USA to fund the acquisition of land from white settlers on the basis of the willing-seller willing-buyer policy. This promise came after the British Government agreed to become the colonial power and be responsible for Rhodesia during the transitional period in 1979. What followed after this letter was a resumption of the 1970s war, exactly from where it was left of before the Lancaster House agreement. The British are at the very core of responsibility for the situation in Zimbabwe.

 

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