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ZIMBABWE'S state-run Herald newspaper reported Tuesday that several opposition MDC officials had benefitted from the government's widely-condemned land reform exercise and now owned farms. Listed as a beneficiary was Arthur Mutambara, leader of a faction of the MDC. Here, he gives his response:

By Arthur G.O. Mutambara

UNIMAGINATIVE attempts to discredit and divide the opposition will not work.

The Zanu PF propaganda mouthpiece -- the Herald -- was at it again on June 12, 2007. It lied about the beneficiaries of the so-called Agricultural Mechanisation programme.

For the record, I do not own a farm, and I am not carrying out any farming activities in Zimbabwe. I never applied for land or agricultural equipment from Robert Mugabe, Gideon Gono or anyone in this criminal and illegitimate regime. Indeed it is true I have never been offered any such land or equipment by the Zanu PF government. If offered, I will reject it with contempt. Mugabe and his patronage system can go to hell and hang.

The malicious and unmitigated lies in the Herald are clearly meant to discredit the opposition, while attempting to divide its leadership.

The MDC is an African opposition party, rooted in Zimbabwean nationalism and the history of the liberation war. Our critique of the chaotic Zanu PF land reform program is predicated upon our belief that there was need for a land revolution in Zimbabwe. Land was part of the basis of our armed struggle.

However, we make a distinction between our notion of a land revolution and the criminal conduct and corruption on land that Robert Mugabe and his surrogates have carried out in Zimbabwe. This is not a land reform program. It is visionless and directionless destruction of agriculture benefiting a few elites at the expense of the majority.

The so-called Agricultural Mechanisation program is nothing but shameless abuse of tax-payer’s money in pursuit of cheap propaganda, while satisfying a few cronies to the detriment of the generality of the people. It’s a mockery and a travesty of justice. Shame on you Robert Mugabe and Gideon Gono!

"We make a distinction between our notion of a land revolution and the criminal conduct and corruption on land that Robert Mugabe and his surrogates have carried out"

Ours is a different kind of land revolution. We seek fair, secure and effective use of land with new strategies that will make the land green again. What is required is a democratic and participatory framework that endeavours to achieve equitable, transparent, just, and economically efficient distribution and use of land. There must be an emphasis on productivity, food security and self-sufficiency. Agricultural assistance by way of inputs, resources and training should be through transparent processes biased towards the needy, while putting emphasis on productivity.

It is critical that collateral value of land is guaranteed as this has a bearing on property rights in general. Without consistent respect for property rights and strict adherence to the rule of law there cannot be any domestic or foreign investment in all aspects of our economy. Hence we need to establish security of land tenure through the provision of title or meaningful and proper 99 year leases, and not the worthless and ineffectual Zanu PF leases. Land should never be used as an instrument of political patronage.

At the centre of MDC land policy is the holistic use of technology and scientific innovation. Proper mechanised agriculture requires training, planning, technological innovation and research, not uncreative public display of a few tractors and ploughs. With an effective land revolution in Zimbabwe, land owners should be motivated towards beneficiation where emphasis is placed on secondary agriculture.

Under this philosophy, we should encourage exporting processed agricultural products and not raw materials. For example; export clothes not cotton, tinned vegetables not raw vegetables, flour not wheat, and furniture not timber. Instead of selling raw materials we should sell value added or finished products. This will facilitate entrepreneurship, job creation, and thus ensure income for Zimbabwean families and guarantee prosperity and food security for all.

The motivation behind the Herald distortions must be clearly understood. The objective is to discredit and damage the standing of the opposition, among Zimbabweans in particular and within the African community in general, while creating disruptive divisions amongst the opposition leaders. These current lies are a continuation of the falsehoods about the Blair SA visit and the Dell Bronte Hotel meeting.

Yes, we do see the pattern, and no we are not impressed. We are amazed by the brazen ineptitude, incredible laziness and lack of creativity on the part of these intelligence officers and their handlers. How desperate can this illegitimate regime get? They will not succeed. We seek neither reconciliation nor accommodation with the mindless despot Robert Mugabe. Tractors and combined harvesters will not do it. Our mandate is to drive this tyrant out of office, by any means necessary.

There will be no compromise, retreat or surrender.

The Struggle Continues Unabated!

Arthur G.O. Mutambara is MDC President


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