STATEMENT DELIVERED BY THE HON. P.A. CHINAMASA,
OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS
AND HEAD OF THE ZIMBABWE DELEGATION TO THE
CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM, RACIAL DISCRIMINATION,
XENOPHOBIA AND RELATED INTOLERANCES
Durban, South Africa on Monday, 3 September, 2001
Mrs Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Madame High Commissioner,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I join other delegates
who have spoken before me in conveying to President Mbeki and the people of
South Africa our deep felt condolences at the passing away of Govan Mbeki a
great freedom fighter and son of Africa.
On behalf of the Zimbabwe
Delegation I extend to you Madame President, our sincere congratulations upon
your election as President of this Conference. The expectation of all of us
is that you meet the challenge of guiding the deliberations of the conference
to a successful outcome. This conference is too important an event and we cannot
afford it to fail. I also take this opportunity to thank firstly the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights and her staff for organizing this conference and
providing us with such excellent conference facilities, and secondly the government
and people of the Republic of South Africa and the City of Durban for hosting
Madame President, it was
most befitting that South Africa was chosen as host to this conference. It is
in this country that rabid racism and apartheid was, by law, institutionalized
into every fabric of society and every facet of life. It is in this country
that systematic gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity
were committed against Africans whilst the rest of the world, and the so called
civilized Christian world either watched helpless or actively participated in
the commission of the violations in order to reap material benefits. In order
to clear our consciences there should emerge from this conference a clear, categorical
and unambiguous statement committing us to a process towards the complete eradication
of racism the world over.
To fellow South Africans
who have fought so gallantly against apartheid and racism I have one piece of
advice to you. You won a battle and not the war. You must begin a more difficult
battle to redress the mountain of injustices of the past to level the playing
field so that you can compete for access to the resources of your country with
other nationalities on an equal footing. I pray you do not sit on your laurels.
My delegation dares and
presumes to speak on behalf of all Africans on the continent and those in the
Diaspora and on behalf of black people everywhere, wherever they may be. We
do so because we are living victims of both colonialism and racism. The evil
legacy of colonialism and racism is still with us 21 years after the attainment
of our independence in 1980. We still suffer from the skewed and racially based
land ownership reality which is a legacy of these two evils. We feel the pain
that you have gone through or are still going through. In the struggles against
colonialism and racism, Zimbabwe can be counted on and indeed commits itself
to be on the front line and never to abandon its post.
The Declaration and the
Plan of Action to emerge from this Conference should reflect the seriousness
of the subject matter at hand by adopting the following core positions:
It has been argued in some
quarters that slavery, the slave trade and colonialism cannot be branded crimes
against humanity because when those evils took place, the phrase "crimes
against humanity" had not yet come into vogue and cannot therefore be applied
retroactively. This argument is put forward notwithstanding the fact that when
this phrase was first used at the Nuremberg Trials in the 1940's it was being
retroactively applied to crimes that had been committed as far back as 1938.
We therefore reject these arguments as mere excuses to avoid responsibility.
We view the reluctance and equivocation over these fundamental issues and the
denial problem as evidence of inherent racism.
As for our call for reparations
to be paid to victims of slavery, the slave trade and colonialism we draw the
attention of this Conference to the fact that the issue of reparations is now
internationally recognized as part of our legal jurisprudence: German reparations
to the State of Israel, for the Holocaust; United States reparations to Japanese
Americans for illegal internment and reparations by the people of New Zealand
through their government to the Maori people. And I ask a poignant question,
why reparations to Jews, American Japanese, and not to African Americans and
Africans? Why the double standards. Is the message we are to take back home
that weak nations and weak peoples have no place in the sun? Please look us
in the eye and answer these questions honestly.
Madame President, the Zimbabwe
Delegation is not here at this conference to engage in mere academic debates.
We do not take for granted the rights we presently enjoy. The right to walk
on a pavement, to reside in a place of our choice, to go to a school or hospital
of our choice, to pray, in every church, to elect a leadership of our choice,
all these rights have had to be fought for over a protracted period.
We lost both life and limb
in our struggles against colonialism and racism. But we have realized that with
the attainment of independence we won a battle and not the war. The racially
based ownership structure remains intact. In a country with 13 million Africans
and about 100 000 thousand white people it is the majority black people who
complain of racism and racial discrimination. The legacies of colonialism and
racism are difficult to overcome. Racist policies and laws of successive colonial
regimes systematically dispossessed indigenous Zimbabweans of their land between
1890 and 1980. Our land and livestock were brutally dispossessed and stolen
from us without compensation and we were consigned to arid inhospitable, marginal,
infertile and sometimes malaria and tsetse fly infested parts of our country
from which we were to eke out a living. The clear intention behind these measures
was to decimate us, to subject us to the same fate as befell the Aborigines
of Australia, the native inhabitants of the Americans.
Those of our people who
resisted the oppression were summarily executed without trial and in the case
of one of our gallant chiefs, his head was taken to London as trophy. Despite
the brutalization some of our people survived to tell the story and fight another
battle. We who are their descendants commit ourselves to continuing the struggle
for complete political and colonial emancipation of our people. In the jungle
that the world is, it is only the fittest who will survive.
We realize 21 years after
the attainment of our independence a grave mistake we made. We laid down our
arms. We demobilized our soldiers and sent them home. We did these things on
the back of promises and undertakings given by the British and American governments
that if we stopped the armed struggle resources would be made available to pay
the white settler farmers off the land, to resolve the burning land question.
In the context of such undertakings and in good faith we went further to pronounce
the policy of National Reconciliation. We even celebrated. Little did we realize
that the celebration was premature. We had won a battle but not the war. 21
years on we wake up to the fact, as if from a dream, and realize that the objective
for which more than 60 000 of our people died has not yet been achieved. 21
years after cessation of hostilities 13 million hectares of prime land remain
possessed by a tiny minority - to be precise 4000 or so white farmers to the
exclusion of the rest of the population constituting 13 million black people.
The hand of national reconciliation that we extended has been spurned and spat
on. Our white compatriots understood reconciliation to mean clinging onto the
imbalances and inequities of the past. Foolishly we had understood the policy
to give our war torn country to our resolve our land question peacefully and
in a spirit of co-operation.
The policy of the Zimbabwe
Government is to correct the historic injustice by effecting land redistribution
to the generality of the people. The white people resist land reform and do
not want to share this finite productive resource with their black compatriots.
The resistance by white farmers is aided and abetted by the powerful sections
of the International Community and the International Media who have sought to
demonize the Government and portray us as the perpetrators of racism whereas
we are in fact the victims of a century old racism. The Government will not
however, be deterred in its efforts to redress the injustices of the past and,
restore the dignity and worth of indigenous Zimbabweans. We have a historic
obligation to reassert the peoples sovereign rights over our land. We say no
to ruin. We say no to decimation.
We say no to extinction
as a black people. We say no to the continuation of ethnic cleansing which started
more than a century ago with the advent of colonialism.
The question of compensation and reparations is significant to us in several respects.
For Zimbabwe the provision
of compensation and reparations is both relevant and critical to the peaceful
and smooth resolution of the land question. Because we have recently come out
of colonialism assessment of the level of compensation and the extent of the
reparations is mathematically possible. Much of what they did to us is documented
and can be traced to archives and records in our possession and in the possession
of the British Government. For example the colonial power set up a loot committee
chaired by a judge to divide amongst the settlers cattle looted from the indigenous
Africans and those records are there. The executions of our heroes and heroines
were all recorded, including attempts by missionaries to effect conversions
to Christianity at the last moment just before the executions were done. As
Government we have provided in our Constitution not to pay compensation for
land but for improvements only. If the British Government honours their colonial
responsibilities and obligations and make available resources to pay off their
kith and kin who are resisting land reform we are confident that much of the
resistance that we presently face from white farmers will dissipate. My delegation
therefore urges this conference to come out emphatically in support of a declaration
on reparations. We urge you to give us a message of hope which we can take back
to our people. Remember no society can have a reasonable expectation of peace
and stability unless it delivers social justice to all its people.
The existing racially based
land ownership in Zimbabwe 21 years after the end of a bitter war which lasted
15 years or so provokes the anger of our people and unless corrected will remain
a destabilizing factor. There is enough land for all of Zimbabwe's citizens,
black and white. All that is needed is that the white people agree to share
it with their black fellow citizens.
I thank you.