Walter E. Williams
10/2/2002 12:00:00 AM - Walter E. Williams
Shakespeare Maya, Zimbabwe's leader of the opposition National
Alliance for Good Governance, opined, "This land was stolen from our
ancestors, and it follows that those who hold it now are thieves."
It's this vision that has prompted Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe to target 95 percent of white-owned farms for redistribution. His
Land Acquisition Act calls for the eviction of over 4,000 white farmers.
Over 2,900 white farmers have already been evicted. Mugabe's wife, Grace,
has personally assisted in the country's land reform by showing up on one
3,000 acre farm with her husband's troops, declaring, "I'm taking over this
farm." The white owner was arrested, and black farmer workers were told to
hit the road.
The late South African economist William Hutt, in his book "The
Economics of the Colour Bar," argued that one of the supreme tragedies of
the human condition is that those who have been the victims of injustices or
oppression "can often be observed to be inflicting not dissimilar injustices
upon other races."
In 1893, with the military backing of the British government,
Cecil Rhodes (namesake for the Rhodes Scholarship) confiscated land that had
been settled and owned by the Ndebele and Matabele peoples. He established
what was known as Rhodesia, a country that became the jewel of Africa, with
its mining and agricultural riches. In a word, Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe,
became a net food exporter and the "bread basket" for wheat and corn for its
own people and most of East Africa. By the 1960s, Rhodesia's per capita
income and education were one of Africa's highest.
In 1965, Rhodesia won its independence and Robert Mugabe, a
Marxist-socialist, became its leader. As Hutt might have predicted, Mugabe
began his oppression of other peoples. Starting in 1983, he used his North
Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to brutally massacre thousands of Ndebele
civilians, a brutality that included hacking to death and disembowelment.
Later in the '80s, Mugabe started attacking rule of law, harassing and
suppressing Zimbabwe's free press and news media, and arresting dissenters.
Opposition party leaders are now imprisoned and faced with kangaroo-court
trials. Just recently, Mugabe ensured his president-for-life status by
openly rigging national elections.
Zimbabwe has come full circle. Mugabe has created a disaster for
both black and white Zimbabweans in the name of reparations and land
redistribution. He has outdone the injustices of Cecil Rhodes, who by the
way, was an avowed racist. Members of his ZANU-PF party have torched at
least 10 million acres of cropland and prevented millions of others from
being farmed. Per capita income, $380 a year, is about half of what it was
just five years earlier. On top of that, inflation has reached 125 percent
and is climbing.
Soon we'll see pictures of emaciated children flashing across
our television screens and calls for food assistance. The U.N. Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) estimate
that millions of Zimbabweans face imminent starvation. The politically
correct cause of the Zimbabwe's looming famine is drought. Yes, it's true
that drought has been a problem, but Mugabe's politics is a better
explanation of why millions of his countrymen face starvation.
One naturally asks where the Black Congressional Caucus, NAACP
and other civil rights organizations -- who in the 1960s were demonstrating
and calling for the end of English rule -- are. There's a deafening silence,
the same silence when Africa's black tyrants elsewhere on the continent
commit brutalities making those committed by former colonial masters pale in
comparison. Their positions don't differ from one that holds that blacks are
exempted from the civilized standards of conduct demanded from whites. Or
might it be that America's civil-rights establishment feels that
brutalization of blacks by blacks doesn't hurt as much?