Monday, January 19, 2009

Zimbabwe Is Dying

You knew things were bad in Zimbabwe. But did you know they were this bad?

1 comment:

Barry said...

Mugabe's policy of "land reform" (seizure of productive farms, usually but by no means always owned and operated by whites, for the benefit of Mugabe's thieving cronies in government) was the key factor in bringing the country low.

Most of the people who wound up in possession of the most fertile farmland in the country, following Mugabe's forcible removal of white farmers, had never worked on a major farming operation, much less managed one competently.

The results were all too predictable: in short order Zimbabwe, whose economy was largely agriculturally-based, went from being a net exporter of food to a country that can't even manage to feed itself, followed by grotesque hyperinflation and total economic collapse (no exports = no hard currency.)

How bad is the hyperinflation? Zimbabwe just last week introduced a new banknote with a face value of one hundred *trillion* Zimbabwean dollars... which has a real value, on black-market currency exchanges, of about USD 33.

So "land reform" is the elephant in the room that everybody sees but nobody talks about. Governments in the region have been reluctant to criticize Mugabe on this basis, because after all, an African economy in which people of European ancestry owned the big commercial farms and therefore controlled much of the production of food for internal consumption and export was an obvious legacy of colonialism, and therefore undesirable on its face.

It's a hard topic to bring up, because it can be perceived as racist commentary by well-meaning folks--people of genuine good will--and it can be (and has been) *easily* twisted into a narrative about racism by Mugabe and his supporters, who appear to me to be the living incarnation of purest evil.

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