LETTER: The wretched of Mozambique
Country's peasants, far from being liberated, are enslaved by poverty and political elites
Dr David Matsinhe had little of relevance to say in his response to my letter (“Settlers’ original sin must be atoned for”, February 10). I made no reference to the condition of “peasants’” lives in Mozambique, or to “transformation being a benevolent act”, or of peasants being “landless and uprooted vagabonds”.
He claims the “liberation struggle returned the land to the people”, and they are “better off living off the resources it provides”. My own direct experience of Mozambique 10 years after liberation was that the “peasants” — jobless and on land with resources depleted, pitiful infrastructure and no formal food distribution — were living in wretched conditions. What remained of the country’s viable economic value and quality properties were, where peace prevailed, benefiting only political elites.
As to “settlers atoning”, those fortunate enough to still live here, (rather than emigrating), generally accepted that after the first decade of independence they would pay a heavy price of depleting currency and property value and failing administration.
There is a Chinese saying, attributed to Confucius, that “when embarking on revenge one would do well to dig two graves”. That is the dilemma with which the majority of South Africans, as with all former colonies, must constantly engage.