The following is an excerpt from “Zimbabweans Pray for Liberation from their Liberator, Robert Mugabe,” March 29, 2005.
It attests to my abiding lamentation on President Mugabe’s willful intent to ruin his country’s farmland and, by extension, its agrarian economy – all in the name of Black liberation.
The Mugabe government of Zimbabwe is the most corrupt, dysfunctional, and incompetent in Africa. And, on a continent that has the most corrupt, dysfunctional, and incompetent governments in the entire world, Mugabe’s achievement in this regard is a truly dubious distinction…
Two decades after independence, a herd of white farmers still managed the most profitable sector of Zimbabwe’s economy: agriculture. And, for a proud Black freedom fighter who promised not only political but also economic liberation from the White man, this fact hovered as a glaring humiliation and contradiction over Mugabe’s leadership. In 2000, he decided to do something about it…
To the relief and exultation of restive Blacks, Mugabe announced sweeping land reforms in which his government would seize the ‘farms of white colonialists to give to landless peasants and the veterans of the war of liberation.’
Unfortunately, like his plan for Black economic empowerment, Mugabe’s plan for land reforms has been an abject failure: Five years ago, Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of sub-Saharan Africa; today, it is a basket case of starving people. Five years ago, there were 4000 white-owned farms in Zimbabwe; today, there are only 400 – mostly unproductive – farms left.
The vast majority of the seized farms went to President Mugabe’s loyal cronies in government who used them for weekend retreats. Virtually every Cabinet minister and senior security official now has at least two farms. Even then, they are not given the title deed, just a long lease, which the president can revoke at the first sign of disloyalty.
It has been a catastrophe. These people had no idea how to farm commercially; and farms that would normally be overflowing with maize and other crops lie fallow, now covered in waist-high wild grass. Farm machinery stands unused in abandoned fields.
Alas, since then, I have had cause only to reinforce my lamentation in such commentaries as “UN Sanctions Mugabe’s Genocidal Rule,” May 14, 2007, “Zimbabwe: From Africa’s Bread Basket to Basket Case…,” December 5, 2008, and “It’s Hail, Mugabe! … Again,” August 4, 2013.
But even Mugabe’s cronies are finally realizing thatfarms without farmers are like cars without engines.
Fifteen years ago, the government began seizing property from thousands of white farmers and giving it to blacks as recompense for the abuses of colonial rule. But now, as agricultural output stalls, black landowners are quietly reaching out to white farmers who were thrown off their land.
‘The problem now is that we have the land, but they have the experience,’ said Mutinhiri, a black landowner.
(The Washington Post, September 14, 2015)
Of course, the wonder is not only that it took these would-be farmers fifteen years to admit their incompetence, but that they never bothered during all of those fallow years to acquire the knowledge and skills to become competent farmers.
The latter, I respectfully submit, speaks volumes about why Whites owned so much farmland in the first place (i.e. notwithstanding colonial rule).
Meanwhile, Mugabe continues to manifest the mental defect that gave birth to his ill-fated land reforms and should have caused hisremoval from office at least fifteen years ago. You can be forgiven for thinking that I’m referring to this pitiful spectacle:
Zimbabwe’s 91-year-old president Mugabe read the wrong speech at the opening of a new session of parliament on Tuesday, repeating an address he gave to the legislature last month.
The veteran leader read the 25-minute-long speech through to the end, apparently unaware that he was delivering the same text he presented during his state of the nation address last month.
(The Telegraph, September 15, 2015)
But I am not; not least because it says far more about his yes-men than it does about a plainly senile Mugabe.
Instead, I’m referring to this equally pitiful utterance:
‘We can’t have another war to liberate a country we have already liberated,’ Mugabe said last month, speaking about the increasing number of White farmers now advising or managing Black-owned farms.
(The Washington Post, September 14, 2015)
Sadly, Mugabe’s dementia is such that he does not remember the SOS he himself sounded earlier this year for these White farmers to return.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has admitted failures in the country’s controversial land reform programme.
‘I think the farms we gave to people are too large. They can’t manage them,’ the 91-year-old leader said in unusually candid comments.
(BBC, February 27, 2015)
Nor, evidently, does he have the mental capacity to appreciate why Zimbabwe’s liberated are praying for liberation from him, their liberator.
Never mind that Zimbabwe’s long-suffering people have been doing so for most of his rule 35-year rule.