2004 November 23 Tuesday
Most Of Zimbabwe Workforce Have Fled Country

Most Zimbabwean workers have left for neighboring countries.

The South African-based Solidarity Peace Trust said that most of them had crossed the borders into neighbouring countries, with an estimated 1.5 million skilled and able-bodied workers arriving in South Africa to seek work to support families left behind in Zimbabwe.

"An estimated 25 to 30 per cent of the entire Zimbabwean population has left the nation," the Peace Trust reported.

"Out of five million potentially productive adults, 3.4 million are outside Zimbabwe. This is a staggering 60 to 70 per cent of productive adults."

Someone who flees to Botswana or Mozambique isn't exactly headed for streets that are paved with gold.

Historically there have always been about 500 000 Zimbabweans who have come to South Africa to work. But an additional 1,2 million have arrived here in the past 36 months, bringing the total Zimbabwean population in South Africa to close to two million.

...

An estimated 400 000 Zimbabweans live in Mozambique, 200 000 are in Botswana and 300 000 in England.

...

He cited three major reasons for the exodus: the breakdown of law and order including torture with impunity; the collapse of the economy; and the shortage and "political abuse" of food.

"Commentators fear the probability of food becoming a political weapon ahead of the 2005 elections is even more likely in a situation where the ruling party effectively controls all food in the country," the trust's report said.

The Zimbabwean government is not satisfied by the rate of decline in Zimbabwean agriculture that has been caused by throwing white farmers off their land. The Zimbabwean government is determined to speed up the land seizures and the Zimbabwean agricultural collapse.

New courts have begun operating in Zimbabwe to help the government speed the confiscation of thousands of white-owned farms. Many lawyers say the new process created by Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa is unconstitutional.

The special courts have a backlog of up to 5,000 properties taken by the government since 2000, but not processed through the courts. Most white farmers were forced to leave their homes and agricultural businesses, but have challenged the seizure of their properties in the courts.

A Zimbabwean joke now runs "“What did we have before candles?” “Electricity.” Well, not only are ambulances now pulled by oxen and farm fields plowed with animals instead of machines but even city water supplies have become unreliable enough to drive people back to getting water from rivers.

Living conditions in Zimbabwe's urban centres have deteriorated as the country faces its worst economic crisis. Over the past year service delivery in Harare has plummeted and recurrent breaks in the water supply have forced some residents to use river water, raising concerns over possible outbreaks of waterborne diseases.

In the middle of the massive flight of workers, political oppression, lawlessness, and economic decay money from China is buying influence in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's national airline is to start flying to the Chinese capital Beijing twice a week.

...

As many as 9,000 Chinese are believed to be in Zimbabwe working on a wide range of projects.

In construction, the Chinese are understood to be working on hydro-electric and coal power stations, bridges, airports, and the reconstruction of Zimbabwe's most important border post at Beit Bridge with South Africa.

As China grows to become the most powerful country in the world moralistic Western groups demanding sanctions and other coercive tools to morally improve the world are going to come to be seen as irrelevant relics of a bygone age.

Continued white flight and ethnic south Asian flight from South Africa will eventually drive South Africa down the same road as Zimbabwe.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 November 23 01:06 AM  Chaotic Regions


Comments
John S Bolton said at November 23, 2004 1:55 AM:

This situation is what the government's morally handicapped professoriate regards as an objective to be striven for! The Zimbabwean conditions of today are what officials and their scholars would call utopian, idealistic and a model to emulate. In the name of egalitarianism, environmentalism, anti-racism and even naked anti-caucasianism, the intellectual leadership of the government schools praise such dictators as can take decades off the population's life expectancy, and get away with it. Officials want to do the same thing here; because government schools must follow their founding principle of the legitimacy of aggression, all the way out. Zimbabwe is what the destruction of civilization looks like. What could be more obvious than that this was done for power's sake. Our scholars should be foremost in condemning the dissolution of civilization, as in Zimbabwe. Instead they are at the forefront of demands for officials to have power and inclination to follow the Zimbabwean example, especially in its anti-caucasian aspects. Hatred can save us from the Zimbabwean fate; hatred of official discretion and hatred of the government schools, to mention some important ones.

p said at November 25, 2004 10:42 AM:

How sad it is to watch Zimbabwe's decline. Its decline is a reflection of European savvy and the UNs moral integrity. China's entrance also signals their moral character.

Randy McDonald said at November 25, 2004 1:50 PM:

I'm curious as to why you think that Zimbabwe constitutes an image of South Africa a decade or two in the future, inasmuch as the two societies are rather different. For starters, South Africa's current government came to power peacefully and not as a result of a revolutionary war.

Abiola Lapite said at November 26, 2004 5:20 AM:

"I'm curious as to why you think that Zimbabwe constitutes an image of South Africa a decade or two in the future, inasmuch as the two societies are rather different."

Oh, I think we can hazard a guess as to why he might think that: "It's in their nature, you see" ...

Abiola Lapite said at November 26, 2004 5:23 AM:

"In the name of egalitarianism, environmentalism, anti-racism and even naked anti-caucasianism ..."

Remarks like these only go to substantiate my hypothesis; Mugabe wouldn't have anywhere near as much external support as he does on the continent if there weren't so many individuals like Bolton whose primary concern is with Zimbabwe's white minority. Most of Mugabe's victims are actually black, but what does that matter when one sees a chance to indulge in "white man as victim" posturing?

Randall Parker said at November 26, 2004 11:09 AM:

Randy,

Because South Africa already has elements of what is going on in Zimbabwe and those elements are developing more in the direction South Africa is going. Mbeki and other top ANC people make anti-whte statements that conveniently get ignored by the Western liberal press. The police are less interested in anti-white crime. The universities and other institutions systematically discriminate against whites. Whites continue to emigrate in large numbers to escape from the crime, discrimination, and lackadaisical attitude the police take toward anti-white crime.

Abiola,

But in Zimbabwe and South Africa white men are now victims. But in your moral calculus that apparently does not matter at all.

Rick said at November 26, 2004 11:55 AM:

Mbeki and other top ANC people make anti-whte statements that conveniently get ignored by the Western liberal press.

This is just flat wrong. Western newspapers have reported more on Zimbabwe than on any african country (in fact, an outburst by Mbeki was extensively covered by the NY Times last week). All it takes is a simple search on Lexis Nexis to see the extent of the coverage. The Guardian and NY times both report on Zimbabwe frequently. So, it's wrong that the liberal media don't report on it in order to ignore black on white crime (as you falsely claim). Secondly, as Abiola pointed out, Zimbabwe gets disproportionate attention because of the white minority population. You can be counted on to be consistently dishonest about this.

But in Zimbabwe and South Africa white men are now victims. But in your moral calculus that apparently does not matter at all.

I remember you made a similar charge on a previous occasion. Your whole focus on Zimbabwe and South Africa centers around the fact that you think those are special cases only because whites happen to be among the victims. You consistently ignore the fact that victims in both countries are blacks and whites (and black victims overwhelming outnumber white victims). But to you, the extent and number of black victims doesn't matter.

Randall Parker said at November 26, 2004 12:42 PM:

Rick,

What is special about Zimbabwe is that it was an African country that had achieved a higher level of development that is now slipping back. What is special about South Africa is that it is headed down the same road. There are black and white victims to this for sure. But what interests me more about these countries is that they are deterioriating. Liberal nostrums didn't work.

Mbeki gets criticised in the Western press, but mostly on politically correct subjects. So it is safe to criticise him on his AIDS denial for example. The NY Times article you refer to is about Mbeki complaining about negative stereotypes of blacks and not about Mbeki's own hostility or the ANC's hostility toward whites. The latter is not much reported on by the Western press and that was my point which the focus of the NY Times article does not contradict.

South Africa's president, Thabo M. Mbeki, frequently uses his personal essay, posted every Friday on the Web site of the governing African National Congress, to express blunt views on the state of race relations. So it was no surprise when, in early autumn, he vowed anew to battle those who stereotype blacks as "lazy, liars, foul-smelling, diseased, corrupt, violent, amoral, sexually depraved, animalistic, savage - and rapist."

Then you go on to tell me about Western press reports on Zimbabwe even though my point was about Mbeki and the ANC and how the Western press handle them.

But as for Zimbabwe's press coverage: Well, I do a lot of googling on Zimbabwe periodically to make posts about it. It does get covered occasionally. But it is obviously not that important a story as compared to Iraq or Iran or assorted other international stories and it really does not get a lot written about it. For example, in Google News it has about 7000 stories with its mention at the moment (and that number is boosted currently due to the debate about England's Cricket sports tour to Zimbabwe) whereas Iraq has about 200,000 mentions and Iran has 28,000. If you look at where the Zimbabwe stories come from most are from Britain, South Africa, and Australia. There is little US coverage.

Rick said at November 26, 2004 3:08 PM:

What is special about Zimbabwe is that it was an African country that had achieved a higher level of development that is now slipping back. What is special about South Africa is that it is headed down the same road.

No, unfortunately that does not make Zimbabwe special in the African context. On economic indicators, South Africa shows little sign of sliding economically. You focus on crime rates in South Africa (and to a lesser extent emigration) because it's the one indicator that you can use to bolster your argument. Even in that case, much of your argument is based on anecdoctal accounts. Your arguments remind me of many predictions of the implosion of the South African economy when the first democratic elections were announced. Then, just as now, the predictions were based not on objective analysis but the assumption that the only direction of the economy of any black-controlled government was downwards.

So Randall again, what is so special about Zimbabwe and South Africa?

But as for Zimbabwe's press coverage: Well, I do a lot of googling on Zimbabwe periodically to make posts about it. It does get covered occasionally. But it is obviously not that important a story as compared to Iraq or Iran or assorted other international stories and it really does not get a lot written about it.

The relevant comparison is not the coverage of Iraq or Iran, but other African countries. There are other African countries with news worthy events going on. The fact is that African countries (overall) don't get as much coverage in the western media (be they liberal or conservative). However, relative to other African countries, Zimbabwe and South Africa do get a lot of coverage.

If you look at where the Zimbabwe stories come from most are from Britain, South Africa, and Australia. There is little US coverage.

I follow quite a bit of coverage in Britain. The Guardian and BBC both provide a lot of coverage on what transpires in Zimbabwe and the last time I checked, those two have not been known for their conservative views. This does not quite jibe with your tired 'liberal' charge.

The NY Times article you refer to is about Mbeki complaining about negative stereotypes of blacks and not about Mbeki's own hostility or the ANC's hostility toward whites."

Yeah, the ANC has been so hostile to whites that the main oppostion party (the former apartheid party) decided to join them.
In fact, the ANC seems to be the only real multi-racial party in that country.

Randall Parker said at November 26, 2004 6:29 PM:

Rick,

A South African correspondent who used to prepare statistics for the government tells me that many statistics that used to be produced by the old government are no longer produced because the government doesn't want the facts getting out. Still, raw economic statistics are available and there are sources for the extent of the emigration.

South Africa's economy is looking moderately special in a way consistent with what I'm saying is going to happen. For South Africa from 1996 to 2000 real GDP per capita in constant 1996 dollars grew up a whopping 1.5%. That is not raging success. During the same 1996-2000 time period per capita GDP grew by 14% in the United States. South Africa had just had apartheid sanctions lifted. So where's the beef? Unfortunately the data source I used to calculate that does not extend beyond 2000. But I'd expect worse performance past 2000 as white flight takes its toll. Check out the Penn World Table and use either of the per capita GDP choices which use constant 1996 dollars.

The former apartheid party joined ANC because they had no future. This means nothing.

Rick said at November 27, 2004 12:12 PM:

Parker,

What criteria do you use to compare things? Is the US the relevant economy to compare with South Africa? The US economy grew the fastest in decades between 1996 to 2000. The growth rate of real GDP of most countries (in constant dollars) would pale compared to the US in that time period.

Another point is that real GDP per capita is a very misleading indicator to use to compare standards of living across countries. That's why purchasing power parity was developed. Between 1996 to 2000, the value of the rand relative the dollar fell by 67%. More than anything, that explains the low value in constant dollars between the real GDP per capita of South Africa and the US (check www.x-rates.com). Looking at the data at Penn World Table, if you use PPP instead of constant dollars, the real GDP per capita of South Africa grew by about 8% between 1996 to 2000 and the figure for the US is 22.01%. Yes, it's still lower than in the US, but then again so would most countries' GDP and I'm not sure why you think the US would be a best comparison in this case.

The other thing is that the real GDP of south Africa had stagnated from 1980 to 1994. I'm sure you would explain that away to sanctions but those sanctions were largely symbolic. Its economic effect was minimal since many counties traded with country at the time (the US Congress joined the international community in imposing sanctions only in 1986 and this was done over a reluctant Whitehouse).

So 8% over 4 years is not spectacular but how can you view that figure and argue that a country is heading down. I would have listen if you had told me that the apartheid govt had a much faster growth in the early 1990s or 1980s.

Randall Parker said at November 27, 2004 2:53 PM:

Rick,

South Africa's economy stagnated during the late apartheid period certainly in part because of sanctions. The sanctions kept piling up. This cut the ability of South African business to sell its exports and to get technology and inward investment. So once apartheid ended in favor of black majority rule South Africa's economy had compelling reasons to take off.

As for my interpretation of the PWT data: I just had a long (20-30 messages) exchange for the last hour with two different Ph.D. economists about the Penn data. One told me that "real" in the PWT columns means "PPP-adjusted". They said the whole point of the PWT data was to make countries comparable in performance and that a lot of effort went into making the comparisons possible.

So I think "RGDPCH" already is PPP-adjusted and and the grgdpch column is percent difference from one year to the next in PPP per capita GDP. So I'm back to the position that my comparison number from 1996 to 2000 is correct in PPP terms.

This interpretation makes sense on other grounds. Exchange rate fluctuations likely would have introduced much larger year-to-year fluctuations in per capita GDP if the figures were in dollar terms that were not PPP-adjusted.

Randy McDonald said at November 27, 2004 3:59 PM:

So once apartheid ended in favor of black majority rule South Africa's economy had compelling reasons to take off.

Actually, no. The _apartheid_ regime systematically shorted non-whites--particularly blacks--of necessary investment in education, health care, housing, and so on, at the same time that it denied non-whites the legal rights that they needed (freedom of mobility and property ownership, for instance). Is it any surprise that the South African economy is still recovering from a spectacularly short-sighted attempt to deny most of its population the ability to take part in a modern economy?

Randall Parker said at November 27, 2004 4:43 PM:

Randy,

Yes, of course, that is why Africa in general is so poor: Apartheid. The white colonialists systematically shorted the blacks. Africa is still recovering. It will be recovering from imperialistic rule for centuries.

I do not find that argument at all convincing.

Rick said at November 27, 2004 4:52 PM:

Yes, of course, that is why Africa in general is so poor: Apartheid. The white colonialists systematically shorted the blacks. Africa is still recovering. It will be recovering from imperialistic rule for centuries.

This is why arguing with you on this issue if futile. That statement of yours shows the extent of your disingenuous stand when discussing Zimbabwe and South Africa. If you don't believe that the discrimination faced by non-whites (especially blacks) during apartheid had any real negative effects worth mentioning, I guess apartheid wasn't really a problem at all.

Randall Parker said at November 27, 2004 5:22 PM:

Disingenuous? Do point out a single statement I made that was disingenuous.

I took the assumptions held by people who argue your position: that apartheid was terrible, that it held back people from being far more successful. Okay, I said, if that is the case then wouldn't the end of apartheid have unleashed huge amounts of economic growth by allowing people to enter into lots of jobs they were excluded from?

You can test an assumption by looking at outcomes. Your assumption (at least what I guess is your assumption) on the large negative net effects of apartheid so far hasn't been proved by the empirical evidence of what has happened since apartheid ended.

My take on the apartheid system is that it was a mixed bag and that the bigger factor holding back the South African economy at the time was the extent of government involvement in maintaining cartels.

For Africa as a whole I agree with Thabo Mbeki's brother: Moeletsi Mbeki: Africa Was Better Off In Colonial Times.

Randy McDonald said at November 27, 2004 6:43 PM:

Yes, of course, that is why Africa in general is so poor: Apartheid. The white colonialists systematically shorted the blacks. Africa is still recovering. It will be recovering from imperialistic rule for centuries.

Actually, no.

I blogged about South African history at GNXP. Suffice it to say that apartheid policies, which saw the forced removal of rural-to-urban black migrants to impoverished and underserviced reserves solely on account of their race, saw non-white property owners legally dispossessed (again because of their race), thus denying non-white entrepreneurs any access to the wider South African economy or society.

How could the income gap be closed under those conditions? Imagine if I argued that the income gap between (say) Poland and Germany was the consequence of innate differences between Poles and Germans, all the while ignoring the impact of a Communism that not only imposed destructive economic policies on Poland proper but kept it from taking part in Europe's trente glorieuses. The argument doesn't hold up.

I took the assumptions held by people who argue your position: that apartheid was terrible, that it held back people from being far more successful. Okay, I said, if that is the case then wouldn't the end of apartheid have unleashed huge amounts of economic growth by allowing people to enter into lots of jobs they were excluded from?

You can test an assumption by looking at outcomes. Your assumption (at least what I guess is your assumption) on the large negative net effects of apartheid so far hasn't been proved by the empirical evidence of what has happened since apartheid ended.

Only a decade has passed. Consider that GDP in only a few countries (Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia) has recovered to the levels of 1989. The decade of the 1990s, with the partial exception of Poland, has been one of sharp relative decline for central and eastern Europe. Are we then to conclude that the struggle against Communism was futile? No; economic growth is taking so long and starting from such a low point because Communism made such a mess of central and eastern Europe. The regions of the former Soviet bloc that suffered the least damage have recovered quickly enough; the regions that suffered the most will take longer. So to South Africa and apartheid. People who were denied education beyond an elementary level aren't going to be able to become entrepreneurs or professionals overnight.

Back to the topic of the original post. Both South Africa and Zimbabwe saw transitions away from racial minority dictatorships. That's the only major factor uniting the two societies. It's sloppy to argue otherwise without documented proof.

(And yes, given Botswanan wealth, migration from Zimbabwe makes sense.)

Randall Parker said at November 27, 2004 7:00 PM:

Randy,

The collapse of communism in the Eastern Bloc caused a huge economic disruption. The system was already failing. Eastern Europe did not have a market economy. The shift away from Apartheid was far less disruptive. Factories didn't shut down on a massive basis. Most people kept going to the same jobs. South Africa had a market economy, albeit restricted by cartels and the pass system and other rules. Still, it had a lot of market forces. So I do not buy your Eastern European analogy.

The factor uniting South Africa and Zimbabwe is huge.

Randy McDonald said at November 27, 2004 7:40 PM:

The collapse of communism in the Eastern Bloc caused a huge economic disruption. The system was already failing. Eastern Europe did not have a market economy. The shift away from Apartheid was far less disruptive. Factories didn't shut down on a massive basis. Most people kept going to the same jobs. South Africa had a market economy, albeit restricted by cartels and the pass system and other rules. Still, it had a lot of market forces. So I do not buy your Eastern European analogy.

South Africa's market was rather restricted, becoming downright totalitarian in laws which discriminated on the basis of race. Pass laws which restrict freedom of movement, property laws which deny non-whites the ability to own property or work in establish urban centres, educational systems with dumbed-down curricula--none of these elements of apartheid allowed South Africa's economic development to proceed normally. The South African government worked actively against the formation of a sizable non-white professional class, or a sizable non-white urban population at all.

Is it any wonder that South Africa's economy has encountered problems as it has moved to a non-racial capitalism? It would be all the more surprising if the economy didn't. One might as well claim surprise that there wasn't a Silicon Saxony (or Silesia, or Siberia) specializing in the production of consumer electronics in the 1980s: Without capital markets, local non-military sources of high-tech, or a mobile workforce, emulating California would be impossible. Likewise the lack of a large non-white middle class in South Africa, and the country's immense trouble as it tries to develop one.

The factor uniting South Africa and Zimbabwe is huge.

What are these factors? Please specify what these are, since I've no way of responding to your arguments unless I know what, exactly, you're arguing.

Randall Parker said at November 27, 2004 10:19 PM:

Randy, The "factor" is my reference back to your own post: removal of the white minority from power. The whites are leaving South Africa but probably have another decade or two before their percentage of the South African population drops near the level that whites are in Zimbabwe. The South Asians are fleeing too as they are able. The declines are going to take longer because both groups were much larger percentages of South Africa's populations than they were of Zimbabwe's when power was handed over.

One white South African says he's lost about a quarter of his friends to emigration in the last 3 or 4 years. He's too old to think he can leave and start over. The younger generations will flee in larger numbers and those with the most skills will continue to flee in larger numbers as well.

Randy McDonald said at November 30, 2004 1:56 PM:

Randy, The "factor" is my reference back to your own post: removal of the white minority from power. The whites are leaving South Africa but probably have another decade or two before their percentage of the South African population drops near the level that whites are in Zimbabwe.

At their peak, Zimbabwean whites never formed more than 3% of the population of "Rhodesia." Before Mugabe's latest violence, they numbered in the tens of thousands out of a population of more than ten million. Compare this to South African whites, who form 15% of the population; South Asians alone are as numerous percentage-wise as Zimbabwean whites at their colonial-era peak.

The South Asians are fleeing too as they are able. The declines are going to take longer because both groups were much larger percentages of South Africa's populations than they were of Zimbabwe's when power was handed over.

One white South African says he's lost about a quarter of his friends to emigration in the last 3 or 4 years. He's too old to think he can leave and start over. The younger generations will flee in larger numbers and those with the most skills will continue to flee in larger numbers as well.

The problem with anecdotal evidence, as illuminating as it can be, is that without firm statistics on these general trends they're useless in forming convincing arguments. We don't disagree much on the scale of emigration; I'd compare it to emigration from central to western Europe after the fall of Communism, perhaps also to the migration of Soviet-bloc ethnics to their nominal homelands in Germany, Finland, and Greece in the 1990s. What we need, though, is firm non-anecdotal data that indicates the degree to which emigration is growing or shrinking, the occupational and ethnic backgrounds of emigrations, et cetera. Without this data, I can't compose any durable arguments.

Misteri said at March 10, 2005 8:07 PM:

Shouldn't this section be called "Entertainment Africa"?

Hannah said at February 1, 2007 12:54 PM:

One of my friends is Zimbabwein and she and her family emmigrated from Zimbabwe to England about 6 months ago.

I asked her if she preferred living the UK and she said she did because in Zimbabwe she could not go anywhere, such as into town, for fear of being mugged, raped or robbed as she is white.

If she was just walking down the street with a friend, her parents would have to follow her behind in a car incase something happened to her.

hitlery clintler said at April 10, 2008 8:59 PM:

I am an outsider, having never been to Africa. All I know is that before the white European colonists arrived in Africa, the black people there lived a stone age existance, perhaps several thousand years behind the Europeans in culture, government, and technology. The white Europeans created a first world society, with schools, institutions, and technologies unknown to the native inhabitants of Africa. Yes the blacks had inferior access to these advancements, but the access they had was infinetly more than they had before the Europeans came, and I contend as much as they could handle. Now that the whites are being driven out, the blacks are returning to their stone age roots. From my experience with blacks in the USA, I can say in almost every case, blacks of African decent here simply cannot cope with the first world. It is alien to them, and if left alone will always revert back to thier third world roots. Whites, if left alone will always revert to thier first world roots. The same can be said of the native "Indians" in the Americas upon the arrival of the Europeans. The natives were thousands of years behind the Europeans, even to the extent that the wheel was never invented in the new world. If you go to an Indian reservation, where the inhabitants are free to leave, with free college educations available, they choose to stay to maintain their stone age existance.
We are the product of evolution, and different races evolved to match thier respective environs. The former inhabitants of the third world now living in the first world created by whites are doomed to fail, for this new world is one they did not evolve to live in.


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