Extremist Leftist “academic” John Hanlon’s claims in his new book Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land, that Zimbabwe’s expulsion of white farmers has led to commercial farming success have been dismissed as “misleading” by Zimbabwean economics professor Tony Hawkins.
Hanlon, a senior lecturer in “Development and Conflict Resolution” at Britain’s Open University, is a well-known leftist who has long sought to excuse the violent and murderous anti-white “land reform,” has argued in his book that agricultural production in Zimbabwe has risen and that things are apparently going just fine in Zimbabwe now that the evil white colonialists have been driven out.
Professor Hawkins, however, in a radio interview with SW Radio Africa, dismissed the claims as “misleading”—which is somewhat of an understatement.
Hanlon’s “research” for his book was based on an assessment of three farms in Zimbabwe and was produced after “speaking to the ‘fast-track’ owners of the seized farms they visited and looked at their ‘successes’.”
“The criticism I made of it is that I think they’ve not taken sufficient notice of the actual evidence, the published figures,” Professor Hawkins said during the radio interview.
“They can dispute the published figures if they like but they don’t, it seems to me, to have taken enough notice of that.
“Secondly they looked at the agricultural sector in isolation from the rest of the economy and it was no coincidence that the economy went into steep recession at the same time as land reform took place so you can’t disconnect the two and they have tried do that.
“The third point that I was highly critical of was their total refusal to deal with the institutional side of it—the whole question of corruption and lack of accountability and lack of transparency and so on—but everyone knows what happened in the land reform programme and to pretend it didn’t, it seems to me to be misleading and dangerous.
“Particularly now that we have moved on to another form of land reform has been now applied to mining and elsewhere, and the same opaque fashion, lack of accountability, with one minister doing it pretty much on his own, the rest of the cabinet either ignorant or certainly not involved and so on. So I think those are the kinds of criticisms that I was making.
“If you look at the history of the Zimbabwe economy there was always very close integration between commercial agriculture and manufacturing.
“When you take or took commercial agriculture out of the equation which we did, then clearly there was going to be a knock-on effect on manufacture and the net result is here we are, 12 years, 13 years down the road, and we now require and are heavily dependent on one sector, mainly mining for 70 percent of our exports.
“Manufacturing exports are insignificant, agricultural exports are tobacco and a bit of sugar and that’s about it.”
Professor Hawkins pointed out that one of Hanlon’s co-authors, a Mrs Manjengwa, has also recently published or been part of a report published by the Institute for Environmental Studies in Harare which “shows appallingly high levels of poverty—over 90%—in rural areas.
“Now if the land reform was working so well, how come we have such high levels of rural poverty? And this comes from the same author. I don’t know how she managed to bridge that gap—you’ll need to ask her that question because I couldn’t answer it.
“If land reform was working so well than we wouldn’t have very high levels of rural poverty so one set of ‘facts’ in inverted commas, is obviously not right.
In a written article published in the Africa in Fact, the journal of Good Governance Africa organization, Professor Hawkins expounded further:
“The story of Zimbabwe’s land resettlement began in 2000 when Robert Mugabe released his dogs of war to evict white commercial farmers from their land.
“That year the country’s farmlands yielded some 4.2 million tonnes of agricultural produce, according to the Commercial Farmers Union.
“But by the end of this country’s ‘lost decade’, 1998 to 2008, agricultural output had slumped more than 60 percent to 1.6 million tonnes.
“The estimate for 2012 is 2.1 million tonnes-half of what was produced 12 years ago.
“Were that the sole statistic for measuring the achievements of land resettlement, it would be bad enough. But when the impact on the economy as a whole is taken into account, the picture is far bleaker.
“Zimbabwe’s real GDP fell 40 percent from $6.6 billion in 2000 to $4.1 billion in 2010, while real per capita incomes in 2011 were 37 percent lower than when Zimbabwe finally gained independence from Britain in April 1980, according to the World Bank.
“Despite these harsh truths there is no shortage of apologists determined to gainsay them.
“These range from itinerant United Kingdom academics seeking to establish a reputation for themselves using specious, carefully-sanitised case-study data to the political scientists, journalists and politicians determined to prove that sub-Saharan Africa would be a better place without commercial agriculture.
“It is true that if the official data are to be believed—and they come with a very serious health warning—in 2011 there were some 700,000 people employed on re-settlement farms, double the number ever employed in commercial agriculture before 2000.
“But there is very little in these data for land reform apologists to celebrate.
“For a start, the figures for 2010 show that a year earlier there had been 1.15 million people employed on these same farms and that some 450,000 jobs had disappeared in just 12 months.
“Then there are the wage numbers. Farmworkers on resettled properties were earning $10 a month in 2011 in an industry where the minimum official wage is $80 monthly, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.
“The average wage outside agriculture is $530 a month, which also speaks volumes for the “success” of resettlement.”