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August 01, 2003

Zimbabwe: Signs of Desperation

President Robert Mugabe is making more moves that might be designed to do one of two things: win over international support in an attempt to jump-start foreign aid without making real changes to the system, or reach out to opposition parties in a real attempt to start changes that could salvage the country.

For the economy or for the nation's well-being, one of the worst things that Mugabe did was to destroy what had been a tremendously fruitful farm system. Between the seizure of most of the white owned farms and granting them to cronies who had no understanding of farming, and the long drought that made active farms far less efficient, Zimbabwe was pushed into a lasting famine in which its citizens are fed only by international charity.

Now that the economic system is on the edge of implosion, Mugabe is ordering political allies who grabbed up more than one farm during the seizures to rid themselves of all but one of their holdings. He's also promising to compensate white land owners whose farms were seized.

These are intriguing maneuvers, but deciphering the purpose behind the moves is difficult. Whether it is a real attempt to make changes or a cynical attempt to again put off international criticism of his poor policies is tough to say--and whether he'll actually follow through with his promises is an even more difficult question.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at August 1, 2003 03:44 AM

From what I understand, Zimbabwe was down to 80,000 whites from 250,000 shortly before independence in 1980. About 4,500 whites owned a good portion of the farmland -- and the country -- until recently.

Mugabe decided that even those remaining whites aren't the future of Zimbabwe, and decided to take their land. And of course it went to cronies. Now he's backpedaling and the country is starving, but I have no doubt he's willing to destroy the country to get back at the white farmers.

But the most telling word in that article is the word "politburo".

Posted by: IB Bill at August 3, 2003 02:22 AM
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