The two main black tribes in Zimbabwe are the Shona and the Ndebele. Mugabe is Shona. His main rivals came from the Ndebele tribe; therefore he decided to eliminate this possible threat to his power. In the 1980s, he used his North Korean-trained 5th Brigade to carry out the massacre of multiplied thousands of Ndebele. The dead were dumped in abandoned mine shafts, etc. People were shot in public executions in front of their families, after being forced to dig their own graves. Neither women nor children were spared. At times large groups were herded into huts and then burned alive. It is reliably estimated that at least 20 000 people were brutally killed during this time.
Mugabe’s Violent and Brutal Seizure of White-Owned Farms
Zimbabwe’s economy is based on agriculture. In the heyday of Rhodesia, the white population numbered approximately half a million. But after the country became Zimbabwe, whites emigrated in droves as they saw the handwriting on the wall, reducing the white population to around 50 000 (if that). But even so, the vast majority of farms were owned and operated – extremely successfully – by white farmers, who decided to stay on when white rule ended. These farmers, numbering over 4500, fed the entire nation of some eleven million people, having farming expertise second to none in the world. In addition, these farms were the largest employers in the country, with over two million black farm workers and their families living on them.
But in 2000, Mugabe began the violent seizure of white-owned farms. Blaming all of Zimbabwe’s ills on the whites, which was completely unjustified and utterly ridiculous, and desiring their lucrative farms for himself and his cronies in government, as well as to pacify restless so-called “war veterans”, Mugabe permitted young thugs of the ruling party to violently invade and take over farms, evicting their white owners and the thousands of black farm labourers. He permitted this because officials of his ruling party, ZANU-PF, had looted the fund which was for the compensation of the so-called “war veterans” (terrorists) from the revolutionary 1970s; and these thugs then went on the rampage. Most were far too young to have even fought against the Rhodesian government anyway!
In vain the farmers appealed to the courts; these had become abject servants of the Mugabe regime. The rule of law had ceased to exist. A number of white farmers were brutally murdered. The intimidation of the black farm workers was vicious, with hundreds being tortured and killed. They and their families were also forced by the brutal young thugs who were invading the farms to attend political “re-education” sessions, during which they had to listen to hours of Marxist rantings and sing revolutionary songs.
Month after month the intimidation continued. Month after month, farmers and their families lived in fear of their lives. The months stretched into years. A wave of sheer destruction swept over Zimbabwe’s once-productive farmlands. The economy was destroyed. Inevitably, famine began to stalk the land. The rural poor began to die in large numbers. So did those in the cities. Yet when tons of food aid were sent into the country by overseas donors, Zanu officials took control of the distribution and only distributed it to Zanu supporters! Supporters of the MDC, the opposition party, were denied food. In the words of a senior Zanu leader: “We would be better off with only six million people, with our own people who support the liberation struggle. We don’t want all these extra people.”
The wife of the Commanding Officer of the Zimbabwean Army told a white farmer that “she had not tasted white blood since 1980 [when Mugabe came to power], and missed the experience.”
In true Communist fashion, ownership deeds were abolished, which meant that the few black farmers who attempted to operate the illegally-seized farms were denied collateral for loans to purchase equipment and materials. The farming equipment was destroyed. Farmers had to return to using hand-guided cattle ploughs, as if they were living in the nineteenth century. Indeed in Zimbabwe, for all practical purposes, they were.
A formerly white-owned estate in the main grain-growing area of Chinhoyi (when I was a baby my father was an assistant farm manager in this very district), which once produced a quarter of Zimbabwe’s wheat, was divided up into small parcels of land for black subsistence farmers. This once-mechanised property was being tilled mainly by animal-drawn harrows.
Mugabe also began to clamp down on religious groups, private charities, etc., calling them “conduits and instruments of foreign interference”, in particular of Britain, the former Colonial power. Mugabe had his own plants in the churches. The senior Anglican leader in the country, the bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, was one such Mugabe plant. This religious hireling seized a farm outside Harare for himself, after the legal white owner had been kicked off the farm and replaced by black “settlers.” The good bishop drove fifty of these “settlers” off the farm, and settled his son and his family there instead.
Today, there are perhaps 400 white farmers left – or less. 400, out of what was once over 4500. They fled to South Africa, the United Kingdom, anywhere they could possibly go, leaving behind properties, possessions, loved ones, lifetimes of memories and hopes and dreams… and gravestones. And the farms? They were doled out to Mugabe’s cronies, and to black subsistence farmers with no experience of large-scale commercial and mechanized farming; and today they lie fallow. The country is a wasteland. There is not enough food being produced. A nation of millions cannot survive on food produced by a mere 400 farmers.
Even Zimbabwe’s once-beautiful and pristine game parks were devastated. These world-renowned parks, which brought in large amounts of much-needed foreign currency every year, were invaded as well. The wildlife was slaughtered on a massive scale, the carcasses simply left to rot in the sun.
Rhodesians in the 1960s and 1970s fought long and hard to prevent the very tragedy that occurred under Mugabe, by warring against the Marxist terrorist onslaught led, in large measure, by this man. They knew that he and his terrorist organisation would bring ruin to Rhodesia if they ever came to power. This tiny, happy country, a beacon of decency and true civilization in the Dark Continent, fought valiantly to defeat the terrorists. But they were sold out by Britain and by the United States. The duplicity of successive British governments brought about the Marxist victory in the end. And the suffering, struggling whites of Zimbabwe, thrown to the wolves by Britain, were forced to come like beggars to Britain’s door, hoping to be let in and to try to start life over again.