2005 May 26 Thursday
Zimbabwe Government Wants Return Of White Farmers

After seizing the land from over 90% of the white farmers in Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe's government wants the white farmers to come back to lease their former lands to farm.

White farmers may be allowed back on their land in Zimbabwe as part of a plan by the government of Robert Mugabe to solve the country's deepening economic crisis.

The president's key finance aide has called for some of the farmers whose properties were confiscated in a land seizure programme to be allowed to resume growing crops to boost the country's flagging agricultural output.

Gideon Gono, governor of the central bank and Mr Mugabe's main policy maker, made the proposal as he announced a 31% devaluation of the Zimbabwe currency.

With over half the farms seized from whites now lying fallow and the economy down 40% in the last 5 years Zimbabwe's government boldly shows the world where South Africa is headed in perhaps 15 or 20 years. Think I'm exaggerating? In January 2003 the South African labour minister found Mugabe's land program much to his liking.

The South Africa labour minister, Membathisi Mdladlana, said in Zimbabwe yesterday that his country had a lot to learn from President Robert Mugabe's programme of land reform.

"You don't need a weather vane to know which way the wind blows".

Price controls make a resumption of white farming unattractive even if the white farmers thought they could trust the government to uphold their end of a deal.

"The GMB set the buying price of maize but, given rapid inflation, this price was unattractive, so farmers had little incentive to invest in intensified production and generate a surplus of maize," the researchers said.

In the last week the government has arrested over 10,000 people for trading at unregulated prices and in banned markets.

Angry residents of Zimbabwe's capital clashed with police on Wednesday, damaging property and vehicles in the first major protest against a crackdown on illegal traders and hawkers, police said on Thursday.

The government is waging war against the informal economy.

So police have raided flea markets, demolished temporary buildings housing small convenience stores, and set up roadblocks throughout the city. With the formal economy in a tailspin, many people had taken up street vending - selling cellphone recharge cards or loaves of bread - to subsist. And now they're being targeted, with critics noting that urban residents are also supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

This will drive the economy down even further.

The extent of Zimbabwe's decline is breathtaking.

After seven years of unprecedented economic decline, 80 percent of the work force is unemployed and 4 million of Zimbabwe's 16 million people have emigrated. Agriculture, once the mainstay, has been hard hit by Mugabe's seizure of 5,000 white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks.

Mugabe has made a deal to bring in a new Chinese colonial class.

Since western countries imposed sanctions on the Mugabe regime three years ago for failing to uphold democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, the Zimbabwean leader has responded by looking East. Mugabe himself vigorously courted Chinese businessmen to invest in Zimbabwe, who in the last three years have descended on Harare and the country's other major cities, setting up shop at every street corner to sell cheap clothing and electronic goods.


One local academic joked that Mugabe had "yellow fever" since he can only see allies in Asia, which he knows will not criticize his oppressive policies. But the academic also raised a more serious point: Mugabe is throwing his own political cronies off tobacco growing land and oppressing street hawkers in towns to make way for the Chinese; and he is selling out his country to the Chinese in order to cling to power.

What does the rise of China translate into? Support for the worst sorts of governments.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 May 26 11:03 AM  Chaotic Regions

Matra said at May 26, 2005 12:35 PM:

I know quite a few dispossessed whites moved to Australia and the UK, but does anyone know how many are now left in Zimbabwe? Given the chaos there it's probably difficult to get accurate information. These innovative and hardy Zimbabweans/Rhodesians seem to be the kinds of immigrants the US and Canada could do with.

PacRim Jim said at May 26, 2005 12:49 PM:

I wouldn't worry about Chinese support for corrupt governments. It will divert their attention and drain their resources. And to what end?

Jack said at May 26, 2005 7:08 PM:

I can't but help a chuckle at this story, remembering the great story by Paul Theroux - 'Fong and the Indians' - about Chinese small traders and their Indian landlords in East Africa. A cracking good read.

In a micro sense this highlights the incredible endurance of the Chinese (and Indians) who go abroad to make a better future for themselves - you'll find them all over Africa, doing things us 'softies' from the 'West' couldn't be bothered to do any more. These people are entrepreneurs, make no doubt about it, and it highlights the generally good relations enjoyed by overseas Chinese entrepreneurs and their so-called communist overseas diplomats (half of whom who are generally from a non-diplomatic background and can capitalise on their connections made in overseas diplomatic postings).

In a broader sense the issue of 'Chinese colonisation' is a search for resources and land, that is only going to intensify as both China and India strive for the economic standards enjoyed by the 'West'. Africa and South America are their battlefields.

Mugabe might be crazy but he's no fool.

As for PacRimJim's comments well western powers have supported 'corrupt governments' the world over for centuries now so perhaps the Chinese see some merit in it. It certainly hasn't diverted

Stephen said at May 26, 2005 7:33 PM:

Here's a great article from a white-Zimbabwian journalist which traces the rise and fall of a newly independent country.

Stephen said at May 26, 2005 7:36 PM:

Matra, the above article has some stats:

At the time [of independence], the country had a population of 8 million, 270,000 of them whites; now it is 12 million, of whom 30,000 are whites, with another 2 million Zimbabweans living abroad.)
Stephen said at May 26, 2005 9:42 PM:

...though the quoted population figure looks a bit odd - in fact going from 8 to 12 million in 20yrs is entirely impossible.

Randall Parker said at May 27, 2005 4:57 AM:


There is nothing impossible about a 50% population growth in 20 years. Lots of babies in large families would do it in a young population.

Braddock said at May 27, 2005 5:07 AM:

The HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe in 2002 was over 25% for the adult population. How sustainable is that, given the lack of anti-retrovirals in southern africa? Mugabe has created a nightmare nation, and he is a total fool.

Opening the door to Chinese agents is merely the latest sign of senility in the once shrewd politician. His ruthlessness continues undiminished, however.

If he were truly not a fool, he would invite Japanese settlers. Japanese farming practices would revitalise the once productive farmland of Zimbabwe.

Jay Z said at May 29, 2005 7:33 PM:

Can somebody remind me why Rhodesia was even brought down to begin with?

Jay Maxwell said at July 1, 2005 11:05 PM:

This ex-Rhodesian refugee and now proud American patriot finds it all the more amazing the national disaster that is now befalling the U.S.- the unmaking of the American nation through the immigration invasion.

It's deja-vu all over again when I see this all-too-familiar decline. We'll seize our country from the traitorous elites or lose the "last best hope of mankind."

Shantienergy said at October 21, 2009 10:58 AM:

When Mugabe, his people and most African peers were fighting the oppressors now faking oppression, the UN was busy carving Israel from Arab states.
I kind of like it Israel today doesn't give a hoot to what UN says, but Mugabe must or else...........

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