FASCIST IMPERIALISM: Colonial-Style Scramble for Africa’s Farmlands

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by Grain, via Global Research.com

Peasants in northern Mozambique are struggling to keep their lands, as governments and foreign companies move aggressively to set up large-scale agribusiness projects. They are being told that these projects will bring them benefits. But, so far, the country’s experience with foreign investment in agriculture has been disastrous.

This report looks at the companies already setting up agribusiness operations in the Nacala Corridor, an area that the government has prioritised for agribusiness development. These companies, typically structured through offshore tax havens and often connected to Mozambican political elites, have been grabbing lands and extracting wealth in ways reminiscent of the country’s colonial days.

new survey by Mozambique’s National Farmers’ Union (UNAC) and GRAIN shows there is a colonial-style scramble for Africa’s farm lands under way. Politically-connected companies based in offshore tax havens have grabbed hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland from peasants in Mozambique. (Download an Excel spreadsheet.)


From liberation to land grabs

Mozambique declared independence on June 25, 1975 after a decade of armed struggle. The peasants, workers, and students of Mozambique had defeated the Portuguese empire, guided by a common ideal of “freedom of man and earth”.

The ideals of the national liberation struggle are enshrined in the Republic’s first constitution, which recognises the right of the Mozambican people to resist all forms of oppression. These ideals also resonate in the first national anthem of the Republic of Mozambique, promising to turn the country into the grave of imperialism and exploitation.

Land was particularly important to the country’s liberation struggle. Portuguese settlers had occupied vast tracts of the country’s most fertile lands. When Mozambique achieved independence, these lands were immediately taken back and nationalised. Under the 1975 constitution, the state – on behalf of the Mozambican people – became the owner of all lands in the country. The constitution also recognised agriculture as the foundation of development with industry as its main engine, to be underpinned by a policy of national industrialisation led by state companies and cooperatives.

One year after independence, a brutal civil war broke out which ended only with the founding of a second republic in 1992 in the wake of the Rome General Peace Accords, signed between the government and RENAMO. Then followed two decades of structural adjustment policies imposed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Today, 40 years after independence, the revolutionary vision of the national liberation movement is in tatters and the Mozambican government is thoroughly dominated by a neoliberal ideology that relies narrowly on foreign investment for the development of all economic sectors, whether agriculture, infrastructure, fishing, tourism, resource extraction, health or education.

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