American Culture

Zimbabwe disintegration continues

The spirit of things forgottenIt is early evening in South Africa. Cold this time of year. For those of you, like passers-by at a highway pile-up, still watching Zimbabwe …

Bob has made some new rules. Internal transport of processed goods are not allowed to move from the cities to the rural areas to avoid “hoarding”, and basics – like corn – are not allowed to move from the country to the factories. In news this evening processed goods from South Africa are no longer permitted to be imported without a special permit. Curiously, he rejected the currency offer made this week to back the Zimbabwe dollar with the South African rand.

For those seeing a final collapse in this … I’m not so convinced. Zimbabweans have already made other plans. Services like Zimbuyer are sophisticated services allowing expat Zimbabweans to purchase essentials (include satellite TV) directly for relatives back home. All Bob is doing is further reinforcing the parallel economy; undermining the little bit of his regime that remains.
The state is quite dead, but its ghost lingers. Time for some African leader with gumption to invade and make it theirs. Botswana, anyone?

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10 replies »

  1. Given the economic potential that Zimbabwe represents – and that the Mugabe regime has so dramatically squandered – there would seem to be a real attractiveness to being the country that “picks up the pieces” or “restores order.” Maybe the seeds for a Second African World War? with some of the same players as in the first one? I hope not.

    I wonder if Mugabe might be a case study in how effective revolutionaries do not necessarily make effective heads of state? He certainly seems to have failed the most important test of leadership – knowing when to relinquish it.

  2. Botswana follows South Africa…

    No 1 basic for any country is food security.

    What a shame that Mugabe did not love the ‘white’ farmers of his country enough. Zimbabwe could have had it all.

    …you do not write much about the farms in South Africa.

  3. Mugabe has never been a successful revolutionary or head of state. South Africa pulled the plug on that war. Mugabe followed up with pogroms in Matabeleland; something like 100 000 people are thought to have been murdered. Any future Truth Commission would focus on the people behind this.

    Mugabe demonstrates, once again, the complete lack of suitability for revolutionaries to govern. Slogans and guerilla warfare are no basis on which to build a nation.

    South Africa is the one to watch. We’re run by technocrats.

    Elaine, there isn’t much to write about SA farms. Far too many get murdered for shadowy reasons not that clear; but it isn’t a massacre, and it does seem to be declining.

    Every now and then the unions make some noise about redistribution of farmland but, with more than half the country living in cities, and more arriving every day, this isn’t a big issue.

    SA is an industrialised state. Our formal economy isn’t very different from the US: 60% of people work in the services sector. We have a serious problem with a lack of skilled workers.

    Agriculture isn’t where it’s at. The Unions and Communist Party would like to roll back the clock to the 60s but their ideas are famously short of any practical solutions for achieving their ends.

  4. AIDS is bad, but a large number of companies (like Anglo American) have their own programs to safeguard their employees. The real problem for South Africa is probably the dwindling relevance of the state and the backlash that this is creating.

    Mbeki has been a disaster. An ivory-tower academic who has so isolated himself and his totally centralised government that no-one has any idea what he’s up to. This is the reason that Zuma is so popular. He comes across as all too human after the robotics of Mbeki.

    What this means for the future? I’m not sure. We have until 2010 to figure something out, and then all bets about the future are off.

  5. Does Mbeki’s constant support for Mugabe play well in domestic politics in South Africa? Is that what is motivating him?

  6. Gerald, Mbeki’s support doesn’t play at all. The pity is that South Africans plain don’t care. The average South African is xenophobic as all hell and hates the deluge of Zimbabweans coming south. The trades union have attempted to use this as a way to gain the high-ground and accuse our president of incompetence.

    Sadly, as a political “hot potato” it is a local non-event.

  7. This is another bullshit article from a white man who wants Zimbabwe to go back to the past: The past in Zimbabwe was white domination and control over the land and economy. Mugabe is a smart African and is viewed as a hero to black people around the world for taking back the land. Whites stole the land in Africa and Mugabe has the courage to do the right thing by giving back the land to natives. I’m black American and I fully support him over the land reform program. It’s morally wrong that 1% of the population owned more than 75% of arable land in Zimbabwe.

  8. Todd, a past in which Zimbabweans fed themselves and were net exporters of products doesn’t sound so bad. And that was only 8 years ago. Who cares who owns the land. You realise greater London is owned by one person? Some of the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the world reside there.

    Robert Mugabe is a thug and a bully. He hates his own people, has committed genocide against the Matabele, a tribe of black people who are native Zimbabweans, and has no intention of handing power to the majority. Most of his, so-called, land reform has resulted in some of the most productive farms in Africa being handed to his ministers who treat them as holiday retreats.

    Supporting Mugabe because he’s black is about as dumb as disagreeing with me because I’m white. And puts you at odds with millions of black Zimbabweans who say far worse things about the man than I ever have.