Friday, 7 December 2012

Is Ian Smith's farm really news?

Twitter's going nuts about Ian Smith's farm being seized.  This is news?  Really? Compared to what is going on in the DRC?  Or South Africa's latest revelations?  I don't think so.

That said, Mugabe has played land masterfully, from ignoring it as a political issue throughout the 1980s, to stirring it up little by little in the 1990s (while relying on  his commercial farmer buddies who supported ZANU in a multitude of ways), and finally exploiting it to the utmost when the cupboard was bare after 1997.

Sadly, the MDC has never effectively countered this emotive and effective discourse, much less the reality of land redistribution.  The t-shirt above was, I think, quite an effective attempt to reframe the land debate, but it never really caught on.

And, while we know that lots of land did go to the politicians, research by scholars in Zimbabwe and elsewhere (including students at Edinburgh),  suggests that the story is more complicated than that.

The land debate in Zimbabwe should not be about this sort of political gimmickry that we've seen today, but over and over again, the media falls for these tricks.

These pictures were taken by the ever industrious Dan Hammett, who also produced an excel spreadsheet that I will be mining for details in coming blogposts. I believe the model wished to stay anonymous. 

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