L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 188, August 26, 2002
Another African 'Drought'
Special to TLE
It's been almost a year since the United States pulled out of the United Nations conference against "racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" in Durban, South Africa.
Dominated by such renowned champions of human rights as Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat, and Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflicka, the conference demonstrated -- for those who hadn't already caught on -- that "The U.N. has, in effect, become a union shop for the Third World, most Islamic countries and the few remaining communist regimes," columnist Barbara Amiel noted at the time in London's Daily Telegraph.
In fact, the real two-part agenda of the conference was to condemn Israel for continuing to exist (which constitutes "racism" against the Arabs who have tried to conquer the tiny nation three times -- or is it four, now -- since 1948) and to demand reparations payable by Europe and America to the modern nations of Africa for the slave trade (which, of course, depended on the complicity of African sellers in the first place, and was ended by 19th century abolitionist movements based not in Africa, but in Europe and the United States.)
"It is ludicrous for countries that still practise xenophobic intolerance, from Zimbabwe to Syria, to condemn the West, which not only stopped such practices but provided the sole basis for the Third World's idea that these things are wrong," Ms. Amiel noted. "If the First World hadn't discovered that xenophobia was bad, would the Third World know it?"
But the crowning absurdity of the South African conference on "racism" had to be the stage it provided for Robert Mugabe, permanent thug-in-chief of the nation of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) to address the topic "landlessness as a form of racism."
Thoroughly in keeping with the underlying theme that only rich folks from the First World can be "racists" (there were no words of condemnation for African nations like Sudan -- the only places in the world where chattel slavery is known to persist) what Mr. Mugabe clearly meant was that it was "racist" for farms in his country to continue under the ownership of white families whose ancestors settled and developed them more than a century ago, while the remedy for such "racism" was for Mr. Mugabe's thugs to seize them from the owners and "redistribute" them to his political cronies -- who all happen to be black.
Well, Mr. Mugabe has now had a chance to put his widely applauded plan of racial justice into effect. How's it working out?
After more than two years of what is politely dubbed "political unrest," during which 186 Mugabe opponents (including 11 white farmers) were killed, the government finally targeted 95 percent of white-owned land for "redistribution," ordering 2,900 white farmers off their land in a first wave of mass evictions on Aug. 8.
About 60 percent refused to comply, and nearly 200 have been arrested in the past week, facing fines and up to two years in jail for contesting the legality of their eviction orders. Despite government promises, most farmers received no compensation.
Tuesday, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa urged black settlers allocated land on contested farms to move onto them, despite the court challenges.
That statement and bail terms that forbid many arrested farmers from living on their land while awaiting trial indicate the fix is in: the bail conditions are "a prejudgment of the validity" of the eviction orders, warns David Hasluck, director of the Commercial Farmers Union, who represents the white farmers.
Many now plan to leave the country.
"We tried to coexist and cooperate but it didn't work," Roy Fuller, 60, told Angus Shaw of The Associated Press, recalling threats and intimidation from ruling party militants who have already occupied parts of his land in the Selous district for the past two years.
Fuller is abandoning his 2,900 acre farm -- he will move to neighboring South Africa to work on a vineyard. Sixty thousand dollars worth of tobacco in his fields will probably rot. His 130 head of beef and dairy cattle were moved to a neighbor's land, where "They will have to be sold or slaughtered; there isn't enough grazing for them." The farm's 70 black employees and their families will eventually have to leave, whereupon they face "a gloomy fate," reports The AP. "Local officials asked (Fuller) to pay them severance packages."
The land seizures have disrupted farm operations, causing widespread food shortages that relief groups say threaten half of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people. Despite the shortage, white farmers are being forced to abandon crops -- including irrigated wheat -- that need constant attention, says Hasluck of the Farmers Union.
"By the time they go to court throughout September, the crops will be dead, exacerbating an already critical food situation."
Which will bring more calls for African aid from the First World, of course.
And to what will the United Nations attribute blame for this developing crisis? They've already let the cat out of the bag, actually: