Magazine article The Spectator

Letters

Magazine article The Spectator

Letters

Article excerpt

Starvation as a weapon

From Mr Horace Buxton

Sir: Peter Oborne ('Living in a state of fear', 11 January) has not grasped the importance of white farmers, and the catastrophe that their eviction is. 'There is still a tendency,' he writes, 'to attribute state-sanctioned illegality, of which land seizure is a tiny proportion, to so-called war veterans.' Most of us would dispute the 'tiny proportion'. Very large numbers of thugs are involved, and hundreds of thousands of workers have been made destitute. But the number is irrelevant. The point is that by dispossessing the white farmers and destroying their lives, Mugabe has starved the country into importing grain, and so made the scams in importation and delivery possible. Furthermore, the country's ability to recover and become a net exporter again has been destroyed.

Whether it is Mugabe's pathological hatred of whites, or his perception that they (and the British government) are funding the opposition, that has led him to annihilate his country's main producers, the picture is the same. Starvation induces docility, as does physical violence. The slaves in Sicily in the 1st century BC were subdued in that way; and perhaps we should be grateful that Mugabe (unlike Marius) has not sold the landowners into slavery-yet.

Horace Buxton

Zimbabwe

From 'Majhoni'

Sir: Thank you for asking all the awkward questions and putting Tony Blair's position on this matter so clearly. I am a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Unfortunately, I cannot reconcile Mugabe's policies with the police officer's job description in Zimbabwe - to protect life, to protect property, to maintain order and to detect crime and bring the perpetrators of crime to court - so I now live in exile in the UK.

It is maddening to see the indifference of the international community to Zimbabwe. I wonder if more help would be forthcoming if there was oil in Zimbabwe. In the absence of international action, force will need to be used by Zimbabweans to restore law and order. My colleagues and I would be very prepared to use that force to ensure food deliveries are made to all, and that the Zanu-PF thugs are brought to justice. But to do this we would need support, which we are not, at the moment, receiving. Give us the tools and we will do the job ourselves.

'Majhoni'

Real name and address withheld

From Mr Tom Langdon-Davies

Sir: Peter Oborne's article reminded me of the grave responsibility Margaret Thatcher and the new Conservative administration took at Lancaster House in arranging for the transfer of power to Robert Mugabe in 1980.

Our assumptions as to the nature of appropriate constitutional arrangements in former African colonies and their likely consequences had not at that time changed very much since decolonisation began some 20 years previously. A further 20 years of hindsight have led us to the uncomfortable conclusion that, in every case, things had to get very much worse for Africans before they could get any better.

But 40 years is a short time in the history of a continent. The signs of progress - by our standards as well as theirs - in Ghana and Uganda, for example, show us that, even after what some see as cavalier abandonment, it is possible for a former African colony to recover itself and make multiparty democracy work.

The alternative is some form of recolonisation dressed up as humanitarian intervention, which would prolong the denial of self-determination to ordinary Africans.

Tom Langdon-Davies

Newton St Cyres, Devon

Brains are classless

From The Revd Canon Geoffrey Ravalde

Sir: Paul Johnson (And another thing, 18 January) scores so many valid direct hits that it is a shame he spoils it by implying that Oxford is forced to take ignorant louts and couch potatoes from sink schools, and for that reason rejects clever people from leading public schools. If this were true, they would be going about it in a most peculiar way. …

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