August 19, 2007

Zimbabwe Collapse In Four Months: Telegraph

Zimbabwe has just about reached the end of its tether, according to Western officials contacted by The Telegraph, and in four months will be reduced to anarchy. Britain has plans to evacuate its 20,000 citizens on an emergency basis as the former agricultural power will send its starving people into the street in a paroxysm of anger, tribal conflicts, and utter collapse:

Speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject, one Western official said: "It is hard to be definitive, but probably within months, by the end of the year, we will see the formal economy cease to work."

He added: "One of the great dangers in all this, if Mugabe hangs on for much longer, is that the country will slip from authoritarianism to anarchy, the government will lose control of the provinces, it will lose control of the towns and you will have a situation where the central authority's writ no longer holds." ....

There are also fears that a breakdown in law and order could lead to an outbreak of ethnic conflict between Zimbabwe's two main tribes, Mugabe's own Shona and the Ndebele in the southwest.

Some political groups are already talking about regime change as an opportunity to press for independence, while more extreme elements have voiced agendas that could amount to "ethnic cleansing".

The dictatorship of Robert Mugabe could not have made more bad moves had it planned on destroying the nation. It took its productive farms from their owners -- whites from the British era of Rhodesia -- and assigned them to political cronies, who turned Zimbabwe from a net exporter of agriculture to a beggar nation. Mugabe then tried to drive the poor out of the cities, and the black market that fed most of them collapsed. Faced with rising shortages and the predictable inflation that followed, Mugabe capped prices -- and now no one can find anything on store shelves. Riots break out whenever anything arrives.

Their capital has little electricity and less potable water. Four out of five people live in abject poverty. Even if Mugabe left at this point, people will start dying in droves very soon -- those who stay, anyway. Millions have fled Zimbabwe, and millions more have packed their bags. There may be no one left to challenge Mugabe for power.

What have the African nations done about this disaster? Typically, nothing. They just held a conference where the leaders of Zimbabwe's neighbors applauded and feted Mugabe, even while talking sotto voce about the need for change. The Southern African Development Community has shown themselves to be cowards in confronting one of the most incompetent dictators on that or any other continent, apparently content to see Zimbabwe's people starve as opposed to confronting Mugabe.

If nothing changes in the immediate future, the once self-sufficient Zimbabwe will descend into the madness of tribal warfare and genocide, much like the Democratic Republic of the Congo did as Zaire. We will then hear plenty from activists, demanding interventions and UN peacekeeping missions, likely from the same neighbors who refused to lift a finger to stop Mugabe over the last several years, and even applauded him at the SADC. Famines will roll across the productive land, and Western television will be filled with advertisements begging for relief for the afflicted population.

Africa, unfortunately, is a constant re-run. At some point, we're going to have to insist that Africans deal with Africa.


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» Africans Deal With Africa from Sierra Faith
Ed Morrissey says we are watching the re-run. Our Antique Media will never challenge Africans. [Read More]

» Dare we to dream from Pro Cynic
The Telegraph reports that Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe will collapse in four months. To which I say, good. Captain Ed summarizes some of the relevant history here behind Mugabe's thugocracy: The dictatorship of Robert Mugabe could not have mad... [Read More]

» Zimbabwe: man-made disaster looms from Wizbang
Western officials now believe Zimbabwe may descend into anarchy by the end of the year, according to Stephen Bevan in the Sunday Telegraph, a direct consequence of the Mugabe government.... [Read More]

Comments (20)

Posted by paul a'barge | August 19, 2007 9:16 AM

Adios Africa.

Don't ask. Just don't.

You're on your own.

Posted by oldirishpig | August 19, 2007 9:26 AM

"Britain has plans to evacuate its 20,000 citizens on an emergency basis..."

Ummm, why is anyone who doesn't have to be still there?

Posted by docjim505 | August 19, 2007 9:31 AM

You mean to say that a socialist / communist country is (gasp!) a s***hole? Whoda thunk it?

But Cap'n Ed is right: when Zimbabwe turns into an even larger humanitarian disaster, the usual suspects will be clammoring for the UN to do something, and berating the US for "not doing enough".

Kind of unfair that the world doesn't want us to be "the world's policeman", but DOES want us to be the world's EMT / firefighter / doctor / social worker.

Posted by MaryT | August 19, 2007 10:01 AM

Is this what Chavez has in store for his country.

Posted by hermie | August 19, 2007 10:24 AM

But..but Jimmy Carter blessed Mugabe's 'elections'. How can such a 'popularly elected leader' do anything wrong?

It must be Bush's fault!

Unfortunately, too many on the Left chose to ignore Mugabe's destruction of civil rights and the Zimbabwe economy. The NYT and WaPo were much more 'concerned' over the supposed 'rights' of Guantanamo detainees than the rights of the Zimbabwe people, who were butchered and displaced by Mugabe's thugs.

Zimbabwe will shortly become enveloped by a true civil war. One where the various tribes will be at each others' throats, not just for power, but just trying to stay alive.

Meanwhile Mugabe, his family and corrupt hangers-on will be allowed into France or some other country, along with their stolen wealth.

Posted by M. Murcek | August 19, 2007 11:20 AM

The twisted love affair with communism goes on, regardless of the suffering and horror it always brings. We keep having the tragedy, but Marx (or was it Lenin?) promised us a farce. Can we please have our farce now instead of more pointless deaths in the name of the great revolution?

Posted by Brendan | August 19, 2007 11:31 AM

In conjunction with the article linked from Volkh yesterday about anarchy being a better option in some places then a strong state, let me be the first to hope that much is true in Zimbabwe.

The land there is fertile and productive, collapse of the central government is the only way to break the monopoly of force that Mugabe has, which hopefully can give a chance to some of the regions to break free into semi-autonomous zones.

It will get worse before it gets better.

Posted by Peter | August 19, 2007 12:23 PM

Gold and diamonds, other jewels, great cropland, uranium, iron, copper, other mineral and metal wealth, giant rivers of water, underground oceans of oil. This is Africa.
Yet Africa cannot feed itself. How about "The World" just butt out for a while. After the great deaths my great grandchildren's generation can go in and rebuild. Should be some good hunting, too.

Posted by nahncee | August 19, 2007 12:27 PM

I keep wondering what happened to the ex-"soldiers" who took over the farms after driving the whites out.

I sincerely hope they're very very very hungry. And I'm damned if I'll donate one red cent to feed anyone in the whole country since it seems to me that their individual greed is what started the avalanche into what they are now.

Karma's a bitch and sometimes you get to be around to watch the pay-back.

Posted by JohnSal | August 19, 2007 1:25 PM

For anyone who has never been to Zimbabwe it is a beautiful country. What a shame that so often the post-independence political and economic choices have been the dead end of socialism. BTW, you may want to visit and look for the recent essay from an economist Patrick Leeson. He makes the case that anarchy is preferrable to bad government (Africa, anyone). Did you know that the social welfare indicators for Somalia have actually IMPROVED since the Barre government was overthrown? Go take a look. His essay and the responses are "must-see" reading.

Posted by jaeger51 | August 19, 2007 1:39 PM

Bring back colonialism. If the Africans were so awfully exploited by evil Europeans before 1960, why have things been so much worse there in the last 45 years? Surely that would be enough time to figure out some sort of leadership that does not immediately descend into starvation, oppression and genocide.

Posted by old white guy | August 19, 2007 2:33 PM

mgaube is what? about 80 , surley someone has enough balls to blow the old fart away.

Posted by viking01 | August 19, 2007 2:54 PM

If Zimbabwe collapses how can we tell? In the Third World such distinctions are difficult as differentiating pureed from pulverized.

Will we know once Desmond Tutu (The Jazzy Jackson of Jo'burg) shows up trolling for publicity while trying to blame the United States and The Man for everything as usual?

Posted by hunter | August 19, 2007 3:08 PM

MaryT has hit the nail on the head. Venezuela is rapidly going down the same path. My bet is that Vz., with its vast oil resources, will soon go into precepitous collapse.

Posted by NahnCee | August 19, 2007 4:16 PM

My bet is that Vz., with its vast oil resources, will soon go into precepitous collapse.

And all of its neighbors in South America will react just exactly as Zimbabwe's neighbors in AFrica have, and ignore the problem until it goes away ... while calling upon America to intercede and spread some money and food around.

Posted by Bennett | August 19, 2007 4:54 PM

There's a house a block away from mine and once a month they put out a sign "Not on Our Watch - Darfur". I think they must be holding some kind of meeting because I see several cars parked out front and people milling around inside. But now they can put out another one, maybe on a different day. "Not on Our Watch - Zimbabwe".

I'm making fun of them, I guess, these well meaning neighbors of mine but I suppose I shouldn't. Holding a coffee klatsch to talk about the evils being done in Darfur (or Zimbabwe) is just as meaningful as anything anyone else is doing.

Posted by Macker | August 19, 2007 10:47 PM

Gee, what would the world think if Zimbabwe disappeared and...gasp!...RHODESIA came back?

Posted by fast richard | August 20, 2007 1:07 AM

The intertwined evils of tribalism, socialist dictatorship, and corruption will probably lead to more factional warfare when the government collapses. Anarchy probably would be an improvement, but the waring factions have to wear themselves out before even that small improvement can be achieved. The old Rhodesia can't come back because the people who made it work are gone.

The resources are still there, but what is needed is the system of law and property rights to make rebuilding possible. Africa is the most intractable part of Thomas P.M. Barnett's non-integrating gap.

Posted by Papertiger | August 20, 2007 4:14 AM

Seems to me that left to their own devices, when the dictatorship dies, the people will be free to run their markets. Anarchy is fertile ground. Perhaps capitalism will break out.
Pure capitalism would be interesting to behold.

Posted by karamojaman | August 20, 2007 9:29 AM

You are all overlooking two factors: the Chinese are supporting Mugabe, they want Zimbabwe's resources.
Mugabe and his cronies could care less about the starving people, they want them to die or leave the country as a population is a nuisance. If they leave the country and earn money then they send some back to relatives who still live in Zimbabwe and this brings in foreign exchange.

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