January 1998 - Web Posted 01/15/98

Zimbabwe's leaders still fighting the legacy of colonialism and inequality 


'You have shown
by what is happening here what good leadership
can produce

-Min. Farrakhan

HARARE, Zimbabwe-The cleanliness, the beauty, the quiet, peacefulness of this capital city is a testament to the leadership of President Robert Mugabe, Minister Louis Farrakhan told reporters as well as Muslims here Jan. 8.


"You have shown by what is happening here what good leadership can produce," the Nation of Islam leader said of the 14th nation on his planned 52-nation World Friendship Tour.

"The leaders of this country, in winning a war and coming to power, showed the kind of heart that they had, that was not a heart of vengeance or a heart of evil against the whites," Minister Farrakhan said when asked about the controversial plan of President Robert Mugabe to confiscate 1,500 commercial farms owned by white settlers, to be transferred to Black owners.

"Eighteen years later, we should, I think, look at the redistribution of land," the Minister continued. "During the time of the colonialists, great tracts of land were acquired by the colonial powers and those who came as a result of colonialism. Now, in order for the masses of the people to grow in equity, and in justice, and in fairness, there has to be some re-distribution of land and wealth that the indigenous people may grow to prosper, as the colonialists grew and prospered during their era."

The Muslim leader suggested that the British Crown, which benefited greatly from the imperial colonial policies, should pay the farmers for the confiscated land. British authorities rejected the notion that the former colonial master would pay for any seized land, according to published reports.

Throughout the nation, 4,000 mostly white commercial farmers control nearly 30 million acres of the nation's most fertile farmland. At the same time, millions of peasants are crowded into communal lands with poorer soils and poor access roads. The peasant economy is growing faster than the economy, and every year their income is squeezed even more by inflation and rising interest rates.

The majority white Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) has argued that nearly half of their employees will lose jobs, if the land is taken. The farmers have also threatened to go to court over the confiscation plan.

But President Mugabe has been unmoved by their complaints and outside critics, citing a 1992 law that allows the government to take back the land.

"This is not a matter for the courts to decide," the president has said.

Many average Black citizens agree with the proposed government policy as well. "They (whites) never bought the land in the first place. They just took it," a cab driver who fought for 14 years in the armed liberation struggle told The Final Call. "Why should they be paid for something they didn't have to buy?"

Soldiers who fought for Zimbabwe's independence have grown more and more impatient with the need for land reform. They have led street protests over the promised reforms and amid reports of mismangement of veterans benefits.

Meanwhile, Muslims in Southern and Eastern Africa should be active in local and national political affairs, Minister Farrakhan stressed in meetings in Zimbabwe, South Africa as well as in the Republic of Comoros, a four-island archipelago in the Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar. Individually and collectively, the Nation of Islam leader stressed, Muslims should not be content until the whole population in their countries is "alive with the spirit of Islam."

A small, poor country with a population of less than one million-95 percent of whom are Muslims-the Comoros is a literal vacation "paradise" for South Africans and for some French tourists, whose visits infuse the economy with the bulk of its "hard currency." In recent years, Robert Denard, a former French foreign legion officer, led a rogue band of white mercenaries to Comoros, where they took over the government, and declared themselves rulers. They were convinced to surrender and flee the island nation. But the seeds of their discontent remain in the residents of two of the four Comoros Islands, some of whom want to secede and return to French colonial status.

Minister Farrakhan appeal-ed to both sides to seek a peaceful solution to the dispute, following meetings with President Mohammed Taki; Salim Djabir, Speaker of the National Assembly; and Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ali Mzimba on Jan. 9.

Minister Farrakhan also met with Chet Blakeman, deputy chief of mission, at the U.S. Embassy in Mauritius-the embassy which serves the Indian Ocean nations of Comoros, Madagascar, and Seychelles.

Zimbabwe "is a great country and it has moved very far, and very fast," Minister Farrakhan told the group. "But what could the country become, if in fact Islam gained predominance. The work of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is not done until the whole Earth reverberates with "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.' "

In South Africa, whites have also been accused of trying to "get away with something" illegal in the face of a months-long Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). While Winnie Madikizela Mandela-the "Mother" of the revolution-underwent nine days of withering questioning about the activities of a football (soccer) team she organized, former apartheid ruler P.W. Botha said he would not even appear to testify.

The TRC has only been used to sully Mrs. Mandela's reputation in the former land of strict racial segregation policies, called "apartheid," according to Minister Farrakhan. Apartheid was enforced on the vast Black majority by a small class of white settlers. "Is it designed to destroy her credibility, so that she may not be a political force in this country for genuine change?" the Muslim leader said to reporters at Mrs. Mandela's home. "If that is so, let's reconstruct. Let's have a genuine peace and truth and reconciliation commission.

"We're not saying that, in the struggle we don't make mistakes," Minister Farrakhan continued, "but the oppressed, in the scheme of reconciliation, must not bear the burden of such a horror as the nine days that Mrs. Mandela went through and (former state president P.W.) Botha can thumb his nose at the Commission and it appears as though nothing may happen. This is wrong."

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