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From breadbasket to basket case

Posted by Richard on September 25, 2007

Once, Zimbabwe was the "breadbasket" of Africa and one of the world's major exporters of food. Now, there is virtually no agricultural production — virtually no production of anything, other than fiat money (the inflation rate is Weimar-like) and hunger. Soon, all the wildlife will be gone, and then the famine will become really serious (emphasis added):

"Wild animals have become the latest victim of this economic crisis," Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe conservation task force, told the London Telegraph.

"We are getting reports from all over the country about an increasing number of baby elephants, buffalo and other animals being killed or injured in snares."

Such is living in Zimbabwe, where food shortages due to President Robert Mugabe's malfeasance have become chronic. His policy of forced land redistribution over the past seven years has left the economy in shambles and has nearly wiped out wildlife on former private game ranches that were seized from their owners.

Hungry Zimbabweans have killed off 90% of the animals on those ranches, National Geographic reports, while 60% of the country's entire wildlife population has been slaughtered for food.

Zimbabwe is in ruins. It's been in a downward spiral for more than a decade. Mugabe's anti-market economic policies, particularly the seizure of private property, have been disastrous.

Most of the property owners who knew how to make economically profitable use of the land have been evicted.

Consequently, Zimbabwe's economy has declined by 35% to 40% since 2000. It will shrink another 5.7% this year and 3.6% next year, according to International Monetary Fund projections. Unemployment has now reached 80% and inflation is at 7,000% (though some independent estimates say it's more like 14,000%). Eight in 10 Zimbabweans live in absolute poverty.

There's no telling how many bodies are buried in the slums Mugabe bulldozed, or how many have been murdered by the looters and thugs Mugabe has encouraged, or how many have died already from lack of food, clean water, and health care. But pretty soon, the bodies will really begin to pile up. How many times does history have to repeat itself before the people of Africa — and those in the West who claim to care about them — acknowledge that authoritarian, kleptocratic socialism is harmful to human beings and other living things?

Maybe if PETA organizes protests against the Mugabe regime … 

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One Response to “From breadbasket to basket case”

  1. Hathor said

    I see the response is as if Mugabe actually gives a damn, rather than doing what he thinks will keep him in power. He’s not instituting socialism as some rational policy, it may be it is only what he knows and certainly it hasn’t been supported by Zimbabweans. When people are desperate they’ll take anything thrown their way, like taking land whether they know what to do with it or not. Socialism is not the reason some Africans have supported him. It has been about his success against colonialism. A deeply scaring era which the right doesn’t speak of and only now speaks of Zimbabwe after its decent into hell.

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