Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mugabe's War on the Productive

Over the last few years, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been expropriating the farms of white Zimbabweans in the name of racial reparations and handing the land over to his political cronies. The result has been as devastating as it was predictable. The new landowners have neither any experience in farming, nor any interest in agriculture. Consequently, most of Zimbabwe’s formerly productive farmland has gone fallow as farms failed due to incompetence or was simply abandoned by new owners who were more interested in owning the land than working it. The result has been that Zimbabwe has gone from a food-exporting nation, to one increasingly dependent on food donated by international aide agencies. Mugabe’s government has steadfastly denied that there is any problem with Zimbabwe’s food production, at first insisting that any rumor to the contrary represented Western, racist propaganda, and later blaming the shortages on a lack of rainfall.

However, the situation has not grown so bad inside the country, that even officials in Mugabe’s own government find themselves forced to publicly admit the obvious truth: confiscating white owned farms has plunged the country into economic ruin and starvation.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Sylvester Nguni was quoted in the state-owned Herald newspaper as saying that while a few of those given land were committed to agricultural production, many others were doing "nothing" on the farms.

Although he mentioned the poor rains, he also told a meeting of the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union: "The biggest letdown has been that people without the slightest idea of farming got land and the result has been declining agricultural output."

Mr. Nguni’s comments, which will very likely cost him his job (or worse), come as Zimbabwe faces a rising chorus of international concern over the condition of average Zimbabweans and criticism of Mugabe’s human rights record.

The farm confiscation policy has been moving along rather briskly, adding to Zimabwe’s economic woes as it drives the last members of the productive class to flee the country.

Much of Zimbabwe's best agricultural land was previously owned by whites, but over the last five years 4,000 white farmers - out of 4,500 - have had their land seized and redistributed to blacks.

Critics say that many of the beneficiaries have been government cronies.

Those critics not only include Zimbabwean dissidents, but increasingly surprising sources like the UN.

On Monday, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan criticised the Zimbabwean government for rejecting humanitarian aid to those in need.

Earlier this year, the UN said about 700,000 people had been left without homes or work by an eviction campaign that began in May.

A statement by Mr Annan rejected claims by the Zimbabwean government that it required no international assistance as it had already provided shelter for those in need.

"A large number of vulnerable groups, including the recent evictees as well as other vulnerable populations, remain in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, including shelter," Mr Annan said.

"Furthermore there is no clear evidence that subsequent Government efforts have significantly benefited these groups," he added.

Annual inflation is running at 360% and about 75% of the population live below the poverty line.

While Mr. Mugabe has become an international pariah – even in the eyes of the UN, which is habitually unwilling to criticize third world thugs – he has found acceptance from one nation: China. No fan of human rights itself, China has been very busily building economic and political alliances with Zimbabwe to guarantee access to Zimbabwe’s oil reserves. China’s leaders have their vision fixed unwavering on increasing Chinese power and eschew such distractions as starving people and thuggish leaders. Realpolitik sets Bejjing’s agenda while Washington spends American blood and treasure pursuing Wilsonian fantasies.


At 1:18 PM , Blogger Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Very helpful and informative post. Thank-you. I've linked.


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