Not many of us know about this country called Zimbabwe. Perhaps some may even find difficulty in pronouncing it. But if you have watched this movie called “Blood Diamonds”, you may have heard about this country one time or another. The main character in the movie, Danny Archer, played by the evergreen Leonardo Dicaprio, is of Zimbabwean origin. In the movie, he referred to Zimbabwe as Rhodesia, it’s the old name of Zimbabwe. Just like how Malaya is to Malaysia.
Zimbabwe has got a long history but 1999 marked a significant event, it’s the year the British obtained mining rights in southern Rhodesia. Yeah, the British just like to colonise other countries in the olden days. Now, they just have James Bond and of course, Manchester United.
Anyway, the mining rights led to an influx of whites into Rhodesia, mainly as farmers and soon. Of course, this pissed off the local blacks and they staged revolts, but they were unsuccessful. Soon, in the year 1922, Rhodesia became a self-governing British colony. It was all peace and quiet until 1953 where African opposition intensified in the wake of growing African nationalism.
Fast forward to 1965, a white man by the name of Ian Smith declared unilateral independence from Britain. Civil war broke out until 1979 which led to the signing of an agreement known as the Lancaster House Agreement between the British and the Rhodesian government signalling a true independence from Britain, and Zimbabwe was born. This agreement covers things such as independence constitution, cease-fire agreement, etc. Ya’ know, like the one our country signed in 1957.
The British rule ended and in 1980, elections were held and a local man by the name of Robert Mugabe won, and has won re-election ever since. Now, this Mubage man appears to be not a very nice person. He was accused of ethnic cleansing of the whites. But the whites can't do anything. Why? Because he is the… … government.
In the year 1999, a very significant issue cropped out. There were claims that the whites, many of which at this time; were born in Zimbabwe, which made up of only 1% of the population owns 70% of the country’s commercial viable land. This means the minority is controlling the wealth of Zimbabwe. This of course, is widely rejected by the people outside the government. Hmmm… Sounds familiar?
This racial imbalance in land ownership means the locals black population ain’t very happy and they complaint to the government. What did the government do? Well, Robert Mugabe then performed a redistribution of land exercise. This “land reform” took place in the 1990s where the government will acquire the land, mainly own by white farmers for a “fair compensation”. Anyone unhappy with the compensation can go to court. Anyone want to answer who controls the court?
The height of the land reform took place in 1999 when the Zimbabwean government drafted a constitution which allows them to compulsorily acquire land for distribution without any compensation! This really pissed off the white farmers, many of whom were born in Zimbabwe herself. The population of white farmers thus dropped from 4500 to 300. Such expulsion led to food shortage with 45% of the population suffering from malnutrition.
With this, the white population dropped from a peak of 275,000 in 1970 to possibly 120,000 in 1999, and was estimated at no more than 60,000 in 2006, possibly much less. Most emigration has been to the UK, South Africa, Zambia and Australia.
The campaign to seize white-owned farms plunge the country into starvation and near economic collapse. I wonder how long will those 60,000 whites stay in Zimbabwe. Imagine being born in a country that indirectly ask you to leave. Will you leave?
Interesting read here.
*This entry was done purely based on the author’s personal research and understanding. Readers are advised to read with discernment.*