Friday, January 26, 2007

Zimbabwe Circles the Drain

The fallout from Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's "land reforms" continues to land squarely on the heads of the people of Zimbabwe, rather like an anvil dropped from a great height.

Zimbabwe is facing a food deficit of hundreds of thousands of tonnes - a third of its requirements - an international monitoring agency warns.

The Famine Early Warning System says the cereal balance sheet projects a shortfall in maize - the staple food - of some 850,000 tonnes.

By December only 152,600 tonnes had been delivered, meaning widespread hunger looks set to continue.

Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe has fallen from one of the more successful post-colonial African nations (to the extent "successful" can be applied to any of them), to an economic basketcase beset by hunger and hyper-inflation. Mugabe's brilliant plan of stripping white farmers of their farms, which were then turned over to Mugabe's cronies and patrons, has resulted in the collapse of the country's agricultural industry.

The Zimbabwean government has refused to allow outside agencies to carry out crop assessments but the Famine Early Warning System used satellite images.

The government plans to import 565,000 tonnes of cereal - 60% of the projected deficit.

"It remains doubtful that Zimbabwe will be able to meet their import goals," the Famine Early Warning System said.

The monitors said a slight increase in national maize production, higher prices for South African maize and Zimbabwe's shortage of foreign currency due to its economic crisis were the leading causes of the lower levels of imports.

Zimbabwe has been gripped by an economic crisis for more than six years and has one of the world's lowest rates of life expectancy and the highest inflation rate.

Donors blame government mismanagement and the seizure of white-owned farms for Zimbabwe's economic problems.

President Robert Mugabe instead blames an international plot to remove him from power.

Well, of course.

Actually, Mugabe is not without his supporters. He remains popular in Africa, is warmly received by the likes of Hugo Chavez (now well on the way to doing to Venezuela more or less what Mugabe did to Zimbabwe), and has signed various commercial agreements (of increasingly dubious value) with China. It goes without saying, that Mugabe and his family have amassed great wealth as their nation starves, including three farms confiscated from productive farmers under the "land reforms," and now used as estates.


At 3:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zimbabwe reflects the actual benefits that European colonialism brought to the Third World. We are instructed these days that colonialism caused the Third World to be poor and underdeveloped. What absolute nonsense. The most successful Third World countries today were the most colonised (e.g., India). And those countries in which the colonisers remained, and remained in power, were even more successful (e.g., South Africa before the end of Aparthied). In fact, those countries in which the Europeans became the majority of the population are the most successful (e.g., the United States and Australia). European colonisation brought the Third World development and higher standards of living. The more colonisation, the more the benefits. Mugabe's land-grab -- and the resulting dimimution of Eurpean influence in his land -- show this reality in sharp relief.


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