A Ray of Light in Darkest Africa

          And while we are relating good news from exotic places, we must also mention that a five-judge tribunal of the Southern African Development Community has ruled that the government of Zimbabwe may not seize the farms of white farmers who established them back when the country was still known as Rhodesia, and turn them over gratis to favored politicians.

         While this is good news on principle, don’t pop the champagne corks on that one just yet. First, according to the New York Times, the SADC court ruled in favor of the land’s owners only because Zimbabwe awarded “the spoils of expropriation primarily to ruling party adherents.” So in darkest Africa, as they used to say, if you award the “spoils of expropriation” to your political cronies, that’s a no-no, but if you seize it for “the people,” it may be hunky-dory. Second, the Zimbabwe government responded to the court’s ruling by defiance – a government spokesman asserted that the SADC tribunal judges were daydreaming when they made their ruling.

          So forgive us if we utter only one-and-a-half cheers for that one, even as we acknowledge that something by way of justice is better than nothing. You can get the full story on that one in Celia W. Dugger, White Zimbabwe Farmers Defy Mugabe in Legal Battle for Land, N.Y. Times, Dec. 28, 2008, at p. 1.