Realpolitik is defined as "a system of politics or principles based on practical, rather than moral or ideological considerations". There could be no better term to describe the approach being taken by Zimbabwe under President Mnangagwa regards the emotive land question where the current debate is on the issue of compensating former minority farmers -- whites of colonial stock -- for improvements they made on farms before land reform.
Whites who lost farms protected under bilateral agreements or bought privately, are also eligible for compensation. This week, South African opposition leader Julius Malema stoked the debate, sensationally accusing President Mnangagwa of "selling out" by committing to pay white farmers for improvements on the land. Mr Malema's comments are ahistorical and, for quite obvious reasons, self-serving -- and we will talk briefly about that.
Needless to say, the accusation that President Mnangagwa has sold out has been taken by some opportunistic compatriots in Zimbabwe who seek to mine rather cheap political points against the Head of State. It will be critical for us to locate the issue of compensation, and the larger land question in history and contemporary politics that have shaped the Zimbabwean state. There is no question that white imperialists led by Britain came to our part of the world and stole land and resources motivated by greed and misplaced notion of entitlement best captured in the Berlin Colonial Conference of 1884 that partitioned Africa.