by Hannes Wessels

Last week we were witness to the wretched sight of a public auction of movable assets taking place on farms now ‘owned’ by the Mugabe family under the capable command of the matriarch, Grace. Eyewitness reports indicate there was a mountain of trashed equipment, some of it only recently acquired. The sad irony is many potential buyers were homeless white farmers who had made a success of their operations with relatively little, have lost their property and livelihoods thanks to the actions of the ‘owner’ and are desperately trying to find the means and the ways to get back onto the land they love. Just what has transpired at Grace Mugabe’s dairy is not clear but it seems all was not well and some sort of cash-flow crisis is underway. This, against a backdrop of ‘owners’ who took the farms for nothing and had almost unlimited access to the public purse to purchase whatever was required while Mugabe retained the presidency.

Before being confiscated these farms were highly developed and prosperous commercial entities that flourished with absolutely no public support; in fact, they flourished in the face of a mostly hostile state. As is the case with so many thousands of farms around the country that were once viable, vibrant and productive, most have been rendered derelict, useless to the new owners and useless to the country. This is the story behind the ongoing misery that haunts the people of Zimbabwe.

At the same time farmers in the Stellenbosch area of the Western Cape were gushing in their praise of President Cyril Ramphosa and the ANC. “The Bible says presidents and kings are appointed by the Lord. Mr. President, you’re also anointed. David in the bible was first anointed and then he was appointed, then he wrote the psalms. Mr. President, I know that you’re going to write a lot of psalms for South Africa and it’s going to be a lot of excellent psalms,” said ‘Beyerskloof’ owner Beyers Truter.

This is strong, positive stuff from an Afrikaner farmer about a man who is on the record saying, “We are determined that expropriation without compensation should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensure that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.” Maybe Mr. Truter does have a direct line to the divine and maybe Cyril Ramaphosa has indeed been sent by the Lord, in which case I’m out of my depth here but this smacks of bootlicking and I fear farmers following Mr. Truter’s lead may be making a mistake.

No two countries or situations are the same but I well remember the endless and sometimes heated discussions that took place in the 90’s after President Mugabe started making alarming public pronouncements about seizing land without compensation. The consensus of the majority, headed by the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), was that this was political grandstanding and Mugabe and his cabinet were all too aware of the calamitous consequences that would follow such reckless action. When legislation was then passed enabling the very actions Mugabe was assuring the farmers he was going to perform a small group of dissenters argued it was time to rise and challenge this head-on before the country’s judiciary and to consider the legal options available in international courts under rules designed for the protection of fundamental human (property) rights . But again, the majority of those likely to be affected believed this was mostly political posturing and restraint was the message of the day. Many farmers had struck up friendly relationships with ruling party politicians and military leaders and were confident in the personal assurances received that they were secure on their land.

In September 1998 the CFU announced a deal on the ‘Land Question’ had been struck which involved the international community and attracted financial support from donor countries and organisations. At that point, it looked like the non-confrontational approach of the appeasers had worked but as it turned out this was a moment reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain’s ‘Peace in our time’ agreement with Adolf Hitler. In February 2000 the violent state-orchestrated attacks on farmers and the confiscation of their homes and properties commenced and the country went into an economic death-spiral.

Mr. Truter might need reminding this all happened with the tacit support of the South African government led by Thabo Mbeki, who almost farcically, was then championing the ‘African Renaissance’. This exciting and ambitious plan was to unfold under the watchful eye of African elder statesmen and women who would staff the ‘African Peer Review Mechanism’. Mbeki had been bombastic in assuring the West that the days of reckless misgovernance on the continent were truly over but when Mugabe quickly showed how wrong he was, Mbeki went very quiet and that was the end of the ‘African Renaissance’.

Recently, the newly ‘anointed’ President Ramaphosa visited Zimbabwe to survey the wreckage, ignored the obvious lawlessness and endemic corruption and spoke out strongly against ‘Western sanctions’ which he blamed for the country’s economic collapse. If this is divine wisdom in play then I fear we are in big trouble.






8 thoughts on “Ramaphosa; Saint or Sinner?”
  1. Good observations Hannes, At the time of the Zimbabwe land invasions and after a dozen White farmers were murdered and many others were beaten, I and a handful of others were advising the remaining white commercial farmers to immediately cease farming and move into the towns. Mainly for their own safety and to precipitate an immediate collapse of the agricultural sector. I was castigated by the farmers who were being slowly strangled and thought that by expressing support for Mugabe and his thugs they would be left alone. We who were also supporting the fledgling MDC were being branded as alarmist and that by being vocal we were jeopordising the survival of the white farmers. As it turned out the dwindling numbers of farmers were slowly bled dry & then when they had nothing left to give had their farms violently seized & they were left with basically the shirt on their back. It has taken 20 years and the agriculture sector has been destroyed. The government has set the clock back 50 years to where it was before UDI & the liberation war. The Stellenbosh farmers who are singing the praises of the Ramaphosa government are really hoping that by talking nice they will be the last to be eaten by the wolf. The CFU stance at the turn of the century was very similar and by and large the CFU leaders were the last to be kicked off their properties apart from a handful of particularly good bootlickers who are still there and can be seen at ZANU rallies praising ED and chanting the party slogans.

  2. Here is a quotation from the 1960’s.

    “When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion.
    When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing.
    When you see money flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours.
    When you see that men get richer by graft and pull, than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you.
    When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice, you may know that your society is doomed.” – Ayn Rand

    1. Ms Rand was a visionary of note.
      This should go viral, but sadly few will comprehend her words.

  3. We’ll never know if the farm invasions in Zimbabwe would have occurred if the MDC hadn’t won the referendum that preceded them. Until that moment the economics of the nation took priority, not by Rhodesian standards, but somewhat they did.

    After that 45:55 referendum loss Mugabe and his cronies did the math and foresaw losing the next election. This is when, in the words of Prof Tony Hawkins, “the only thing more important than the economy for them is the politics” and, in order to survive, they had no choice but to go to war. And who can blame them? The sins of their past and the Gukurahundi made them all vulnerable on a personal level to retribution.

    And who could blame them for fighting, therefore.? That is when the farm invasions began – tactically necessary if you were ZANU PF – they had no chance of winning the cities so they had to secure the rural count – by invading the farms they achieved three things: 1) they deprived the MDC of 1.7million rural voters; 2) they deprived the MDC of a campaign platform in the country; 3) by handing out farms to chosen party officials they ensured the patronage necessary to retain the support of the military

    They waged total war – destroying the judiciary, the free press while applying all manner of violence through Green Bombers and the like to intimidate the opposition – everyone knows the MDC still won the vote but that’s irrelevant in African politics – it’s not who wins the vote who wins, it’s not who counts the votes who wins, it’s who ANNOUNCES the results who wins. Since they fully controlled the media that was ZANU PF.

    Mugabe was incredulous that the MDC could be so shortsighted as to try to overthrow him: “How can a ballpoint pen beat a gun? is he how he put it. In Africa it can’t be done. He could and did make the argument that he had protected the farmers for 17 years against the militants in his party, but with the financial, intellectual and moral support of the whites underwriting the MDC he had no alternative, if he was to survive, but to lash out. At the outset in 1980 they assured the whites of a future with the caveat warning of them, very specifically, not to get involved in their politics. It’s a warning we should have heeded – prior to that referendum we had a good lifestyle in that country – better than any I’ve seen elsewhere on my world travels.

    Knowing ZANU’s long history of ultra-violence and utter ruthlessness from the early ‘60’s in achieving their objectives how could anyone with any notion of African political reality have expected any different? Frog Barry said it best: “We poked the tiger but nobody checked if the cage was locked”.

    So to the South African farmers, facing an even more vicious and hateful foe than we did (Malema, etc.) make sure you don’t ever seriously challenge the power of the ANC because … if they think they’re going to lose power they will retaliate and you will be the first in line.

    1. The famous British infantry square only worked against the French cavalry when it stood firm and did not allow gaps to open! You, Sir, are a gap!

  4. I have a personal connection to the Dairy Farm taken by Grace Mugabe. My late cousin Ian Webster was the owner of Foyle Farm in Mazoe. As a boy Ian grew up on my widowed Aunt’s farm in Gwelo. While we were playing Ian was learning the art of farming. It was in his blood. In 1981 Ian purchased Foyle Farm from the owner who decided to emigrate. Ian worked extremely hard to turn the farm into a profitable operation. he ensure his workers were well treated and cared for providing them with a high standard of housing and a school on the farm. Ian also provided jobs for his family. His siblings also lived on the farm.
    One afternoon Grace and her entourage arrived and gave him a few weeks to vacate. She very kindly allowed him to keep his clothing and household furniture and a car.
    Fortunately Ian had see the writing on the wall and had secured funds to enable his family to re-settle in Australia. About five or six years ago Ian was stung by a bee which ended his life.
    Ian’s story is so similar to that of many farming folk in Zimbabwe. All were hard workers who made tremendous sacrifices to ensure that their ventures were a success.
    They did not steal land from anybody. In very much the same way as white settlers who colonist USA; Canada; Australia and New Zealand South Africa and Rhodesia were colonised. The difference between the Southern Africa colonists and the colonists of the other Commonwealth countries mentioned is they did not practice genocide against the local population. They created booming economies out of nothing. The only mistake they made was not to incorporate the indigenous population into the greater economy at a much earlier date. Of course we all know that hindsight is such a perfect science. And of course when did the USA start giving equal rights to their black citizens. Slavery was only abolished in the second half of the 19th century while in Southern Africa is was abolished much earlier.
    Back to the main conversation. It is not fair to single Southern African whites out as having stolen land. This was not occupied in the first place.
    History has shown that the world has turned its back on the whites in Africa. We are no exception. Like the frog being slowly boiled to death Ramaphosa will quietly boil us. he has no long term ambition to keep us on the land.

  5. Hannes, every time I read of these heinous acts it makes me weepy. To my mind our ‘anointed’ has the smile and disposition of a tiger and is as devious. It sickens me when the sycophants wait in line to heap praises in the hopes they will be safe. Mugabe / ED / Ram and crowd are all cut from the same cloth. We who linger in this Africa would do worse than burying our heads.

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