(This is an extract from President Robert Mugabe's address to the ZANU-PF Central Committee meeting held Friday September 17, 1993)

[from SAPEM, October 1993. p. 45.]

The issue of land has become a matter of great dispute between ZANU-PF, on the one hand, and the colonial settler farmers on the other. What is really at stake and is being disputed by the settler farmers who are taking the matter to court, is not the issue of compensation, but the very right of Zimbabwe's Government to acquire land from them and re-allocate it to impoversihed landless communal people. They argue that the land belongs to them and is, therefore, beyond the Land Acquisition Act, for it is in fact this Act that they are challenging, not so much from the point of view of the mode of its implementation as from that of its constitutionality. They hope that through court action, they can freeze our land resetlement programme, if not completely kill it.

But who are these people who today have suddenly grown awake to the principles of legality and constitutionality? They are either direct descendants or inheritors or successors of the land and power grabbers of 1890 and the subsequent periods. The land in question is land they hold by virtue of conquest, and not by way of either purchase or cession from our ancestors.

It is land they have, and on that reckoning, held illegally all along and not under any title from our ancestors. If it is argued that the fact of conquest and defeat can transfer title, and actually did transfer such title, in 1893 and 1897 and thereafter, then it can similarly be argued that the fact of their defeat by us in 1980 has the equivalent effect of re-transferring the land title to the Blacks. Perhaps this is how we should have argued our case and acted. We have been far too decent. If White settlers just took the land from us without paying for it, we can, in a similar way, just take it from them without paying for it, or entertaining any ideas of legality and constitutionality. Perhaps our weakness has been that we have tried to act morally and legally, when they acted immorally and illegally.

We have tried to be gentlemen and women guided by legal principles, when they defined these principles and acted as inhuman plunderers, guided by nothing more than the law of the jungle. We, in a decent manner, established a new social and legal order in 1980 as we became independent and freed our people from their illegal and oppressive UDI order under which they cold-bloodedly killed thousands of our people in a bid to entrench themselves in power. We pronounced that, in spite of their previous barbarous policies, we would maintain a democratic and non-racial society. That in fact is the situation at present, and yet they have in practice rejected it, maintaining their racial bigotry as White Rhodesians who will have no social ad-mixture with Zimbabwean non-Whites. Because of their attitudes, we in Zimbabwe [are] a sad tale of two cities, the non-racial one we espouse and the racial one they espouse. Observe the situation in the commercial farming sector and you will see these settler racists running exclusive clubs, playing exclusive games, striving all the time to maintain their own exclusive schools and other amenities. They will deliberately increase their club, school and clinic fees in order to debar Blacks. They will refer to "your Government" as they denounce and disparage us. They will treat the Black servants on their farms worse than they treat their dogs. These Rhodesians, creatures of the past, certainly do not belong to our Zimbabwe, and the sooner they went to their Rhodesia, wherever it is, the better it will be for us Zimbabweans who want a society of equality and non-racial harmony.

It is clear that the settler farmer's mentality cannot change because of his ingrained racial attitudes. Like the ostrich he prefers to bury his head in the sand and ignore completely the changed circumstances around him. I have, I must admit, met some exceptions and admire their courage and sense of adjustment, but these exceptions are often victims of ostracism and become rejects among the racist settler farmers.

For 13 years we have tried to make these people see that the old order has given way to a new non-racial order, where the demands of morality, equity and social justice have become more impelling. We have appealed to them to understand and appreciate the need for radical land redistribution so that the land-hungry peasants can be resettled. But their insatiable land-acquisitive instinct will not brook any measure, however equitable it is, that will affect what they believe to be their sacred right of ownsership. And, of course, some of them still dream of restoration of power in a redeemed or resurrected Rhodesia under a Black stooge Government. Look at their sponsorship of The Forum.

I want to assure you that my Government shall remain firm and unyielding on the issue of land. For any group of affected land owners to have to resort to courts to challenge our sovereign right to rule and determine our national policies, including the present land policy, is for them to indulge in an exercise in futility. We can never ever surrender the people's sovereign right to a greedy bunch of racist usurpers. To us, the interests of the majority are and always shall remain paramount.

The resetlement programme, as planned, must, therefore, never be allowed to fail nor must it be hampered by any extraneous factors or considerations. The communal people, who are far too land-hungry to remain in their present state, should never be denied the land they stand in need of by the antics of a group of selfish settlers. The land is the people's heritage!

This material derives from Hyperland, a University of Zimbabwe hypertext project under the direction of Andrew Morrison, and I would like to thank him and the authors quoted for sharing their research with this website. [GPL]
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