NOTES FOR A SPEECH BY FORMER PRESIDENT FW DE KLERK
TO THE NEW NATIONAL PARTY GOLF DAY
5 MAY 2000
THE CRISIS IN ZIMBABWE
The crisis in Zimbabwe has very little to do with the land question:
- It has been a serious but dormant issue for years, which has now been resuscitated because of the impending general elections
- Everyone, including the white farmers, the British Government and the international community, agrees that there should be more equitable distribution of farm land.
- The main victims of the land invasions may very well turn out to be the black Zimbabwean farm workers and not the white farm owners.
- There is no indication that the unstructured invasion of farms will materially improve the living conditions of the squatters. What will inevitably happen will be the loss of agricultural production which presently accounts for 40% of Zimbabwe’s exports.
- The idea that prosperity is linked to land ownership in modern economies is simply not true. On the contrary, the road to greater prosperity and well-being for developing people everywhere lies overwhelmingly in urbanisation and industrialisation – and in modernisation of agriculture as opposed to a reversion to subsistence agriculture.
The crisis centres rather on the following issues:
- The manner in which Mugabe is undermining democracy by exploiting the land issue to initiate the wholesale and brutal intimidation of his opponents in the coming general election.
- The abrogation of the rule of law in the manner in which Mugabe has refused to enforce the decisions of his own courts.
- The manner in which Mugabe has condoned and used violence in the pursuit of his political objectives.
- The blatantly racist nature of his attacks on the white farming community and on whites in general in Zimbabwe.
- The rejection of multi-communalism and Mugabe’s underlying assumption that second and third generation white Zimbabweans are not really Zimbabweans.
- The assault on the principle of property ownership and the right to fair and market-related compensation for property expropriated by the state for the common good.
- The disastrous effect that these actions, individually and cumulatively, are having on the Zimbabwean economy and on international confidence in the future political and economic stability of the entire region – with specific implications for South Africa.
The relative success of South Africa’s historic compromise is based firmly on principles which represent the antithesis of Mugabe’s approach, including
- the entrenchment of genuine multiparty democracy;
- the rule of law and particularly of the constitution;
- the peaceful and negotiated resolution of disputes;
- the rejection of racism;
- the acceptance of all South Africa’s communities as equal and essential components of the South African nation, despite their diverse cultural or ethnic origins;
- the acceptance of private property as the basis for economic growth and national prosperity; and
- the need to conform with international economic, democratic and human rights norms to ensure the long-term happiness, prosperity and security of all South Africans.
For all these reasons it is essential for all South Africans – and particularly for the South African Government – to condemn President Mugabe’s actions forthrightly and unambiguously.
The argument in favour of continued quiet diplomacy is, for the following reasons, basically flawed:
- Mugabe has simply not carried out the undertakings that he is supposed to have made at the Victoria Falls meeting. He continues to condone violence, the intimidation of his political opponents and the illegal and ongoing invasion of farms.
- The key issue for the South African Government should no longer primarily be what happens in Zimbabwe, but the serious implications which the Zimbabwe situation holds for South Africa.
- Rightly or wrongly, important South African communities and international markets have interpreted the Government’s reticence on developments in Zimbabwe as constituting a dilution of its own commitment to the key principles on which the historic South African compromise was based. They need to be reassured. Urgently and emphatically of the Government’s continuing commitment to these principles.