August 24, 2007

Another Step Reached In Zimbabwe's Collapse

Earlier this week, I noted that Zimbabwe had begun accelerating towards collapse with the imposition of price controls, backed up by enforcement squads that provided little more than government-assisted looting. I wrote at the time that when state-created shortages threaten the economy, dictators attempt to stamp out the symptoms through even heavier state action rather than cure the original disease. Now Zimbabwe has almost no domestic capital left, thanks to Mugabe's ruinous economic diktats.

That didn't stop Mugabe from taking the next step towards utter collapse -- chasing out foreign capital as well:

President Robert Mugabe has paved the way to effectively seize control of foreign-owned companies, many of them British, dealing another blow to Zimbabwe's tottering economy.

Under a bill laid before Zimbabwe's parliament, all firms undergoing structural changes, and any new investments in the country, must be 51 per cent controlled by "indigenous Zimbabweans".

Paul Mangwana, the minister responsible for the programme, said the bill was intended to "create an enabling environment that will result in increased participation of indigenous people in the economic activities of the country".

The legislation makes clear, however, that white Zimbabwean shareholders do not count. It defines an "indigenous Zimbabwean" as "any person who was disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the grounds of race before independence in 1980".

Mugabe did the same thing with Zimbabwe's once-prosperous farms, which at one time produced food in abundance not just for Zimbabwe but also its neighbors in Africa. He claimed, not without justification, that white ownership of the land sprang from the unfair advantage of Rhodesia's colonialism. Rather than conduct a rational reapportionment of the land, he stripped it from the producers and gave it to political hacks, who turned Zimbabwe into a beggar state.

This, however, is worse. Zimbabwe needs foreign investment more desperately than ever, and Mugabe is about to ensure that foreign capital gets removed before it too gets looted. The investment didn't result from colonialism, either, but from efforts in the post-colonial era to support Zimbabwe's independence. It provided jobs and security to thousands of Zimbabweans, security that will entirely dissipate once the foreign companies pack off as much as they can before Mugabe confiscates their property.

When he does, the factories and businesses will cease to exist, just as the farms have returned to pre-agricultural tall grass. Mugabe's cronies know just as much about industrial production as they do about agricultural production. New foreign investment will never appear as long as Mugabe or his thugs retain power. Zimbabwe will be a wasteland of starving, unemployed people, just a generation removed from living in Africa's breadbasket.


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Comments (16)

Posted by Otter | August 24, 2007 9:26 AM

Just another Leftist favorite...

Posted by rbj | August 24, 2007 9:35 AM

I'm sure it's all George W. Bush's fault. Somehow.


PS, like the new look, Cap'n.

Posted by vet66 | August 24, 2007 9:40 AM

I speculate on who will fill the vacuum first: Russians? Chinese? Al Qaeda? U.S.? French? U.N.?

Everyone is watching and waiting to see who will be the first to pour money into the abyss first.

Posted by thedoctor | August 24, 2007 10:17 AM

Africa is basicaly a lost cause. Until there is a great cultural leap to western values, no amount of capital input will alter the tragedy. The US interests and money are better spent nearly anywhere else.

Posted by Bob Mc | August 24, 2007 10:23 AM

Actually, Jimmy Carter gets to shoulder the implosion of Zimbabwe. He essentially installed Bobby personally.

The void? The country has no valuable natural resources, it has no industrial capacity, and it can't feed itself. Sounds like Afghanistan. Anarchy will rule; then an Islamic group will claim power.

Posted by syn | August 24, 2007 10:26 AM

"Africa is basically a lost amount of capital input will alter the tragedy"

Particualrily when the capital is controlled by the 'humanitarian' mindsets inside the United Nations beholding themselves to dictators, kleptocrats, mass murders, Islamic Jihadists and various other Collectivist do-gooders our world has to offer.

Perhaps the solution is to stop funding the United Nations, tear down that system and the building which operates it; there are far better alternatives to seting Africans free from the tyrannny of do-gooder humanitarians.

Posted by syn | August 24, 2007 10:28 AM

"Africa is basically a lost amount of capital input will alter the tragedy"

Particularily when the capital is controlled by the 'humanitarian' mindsets inside the United Nations beholding themselves to dictators, kleptocrats, mass murders, Islamic Jihadists and various other Collectivist do-gooders our world has to offer.

Perhaps the solution is to stop funding the United Nations, tear down that system and the building which operates it; there are far better alternatives to setting Africans free from the tyrannny of do-gooder humanitarians.

Posted by CatoRenasci | August 24, 2007 10:46 AM

It is truly impossible to rationally have any sympathy for the people of Zimbabwe. They managed in a generation to turn the country from the bread basket of Africa into a basket case. Democratically. Got rid of the demon white government that had run things very well, and the white farmers who'd created the prosperity.

Still, I think it's time to send in the SAS and evacuate every remaining white and 'coloured' (the Asians, etc. who are neither 'white' or 'African' native) and then quarantine the place until it falls completely apart.

Posted by JohnSal | August 24, 2007 11:06 AM

Africa is spectacularly well endowed with extractable raw materials, rich agricultural land, and hydro-electric potential, to say nothing of the potential for tourism revenue. And there is an example of sustained societal success in Africa. The following is the Wikipedia entry for Botswana (which borders Zimbabwe):

"Economic growth averaged over 9% per year from 1966 to 1999. The government has maintained a sound fiscal policy, despite consecutive budget deficits in 2002 and 2003, and a negligible level of foreign debt. It earned the highest sovereign credit rating in Africa and has stockpiled foreign exchange reserves (over $7 billion in 2005/2006) amounting to almost two and a half years of current imports. Botswana's impressive economic record has been built on the foundation of wisely using revenue generated from diamond mining to fuel economic development through prudent fiscal policies and a cautious foreign policy."

The country has been a functioning democracy, with no interruptions, since its independence.

The political problems infecting Africa began with the dominance of European-trained bureaucratic elites after independence followed by "white guilt" encouraging the experimentation with socialist schemes of politics and economic policy. Significant regional progress will probably not begin until the generation with colonialist resentments has disappeared and Africans find their own "best practices" a la Botswana. Remember that African independence took place at the same time that civil rights reforms were enacted in the U.S. Are we free from the promoters of the "racism" issue in this country?

Posted by Paul A'Barge | August 24, 2007 11:19 AM

it's time to send in the SAS and evacuate every remaining white

No one is holding a gun to their heads. There are no hostages.

Let them book their flights on like anyone else.

Adios, Africa. Try to keep the wailing down to a minimum.

Posted by Kyle Fulton | August 24, 2007 11:31 AM

JohnSal's comments are a useful reminder that democracy allows communities to prosper, self-destruct, or meander between the two extremes. In many democracies throughout the world, leaders are in limited supply. Sometimes people vote against something rather than voting for something. Sometimes, people vote for a small change (iceberg tip) and end up getting the rest of the iceberg. So while the voters are culpable for their choices, we should be understanding.

While it is not our role to fix everyone else's issues, we need to fan democracy and distance ourselves from harsh regimes. I think that it is an ideal that we will not be able to attain.

So I want to stay engaged with the world, but limit our dependence and exposure. We'll see if some balance will be struck. I doubt it will, but remain somewhat hopeful.

Posted by Sourdough | August 24, 2007 1:11 PM

South Africa is probably next. When Theo Mebeke's current term expires he is expected to be succeeded by Zuma, a devout communist, corrupt and great admirer of Mugabe. He has already stated that if elected he's going after the whites and their land. Many white and prosperous blacks and east indians are planning to leave if he takes office. South Africa has a large and prosperous black and indian middle class. But not large enough to prevent Zuma from taking office. The huge unemployed black majority will probably elect him. I love South Africa and its people of all colors but I may have visited for the last time.

Posted by FT | August 24, 2007 1:27 PM

Ultimately, the economic slag heap will result in brutality. Violent force will inevitably rise where the market is destroyed in this fasion.

Zimbabwe is going to be an awful place for many years to come.

Posted by viking01 | August 24, 2007 2:00 PM

I'm afraid New Orleans may beat South Africa for the Next Zimbabwe prize. Soweto (Southwest Township of Johannesburg), however has been a madhouse for decades already. I know people who lived in Johannesburg where private security police has been a fact of life there for over twenty years.

Look at New Orleans city leadership. Mayor "School Bus" Nagin declares everything under control. In a panic a few hours later he orders an evacuation being little more than a "you're on your own" statement. The aftermath of destruction, looting and mayoral incompetence gets blamed on FEMA. The cleanup afterwards is rife with corruption where even the reputed "clean up politics" officials like Oliver Thomas are caught taking bribes. The verdict on District Attorney Eddie Jordan finds that he fired about 50 of his 70 or so employees simply because they were white. Murder and other crimes continue to skyrocket while the hands outstretched for handouts increase in number. The tax base has relocated to other states or other parishes. Much of the city still looks like a war zone while the Mayor travels about the country on junkets peddling his blame FEMA and race conspiracy diversions.

We have our own Zimbabwes in our midst for many of the same reasons, attitudes and cultural defects. Philadelphia had over 400 murders last year and well over 200 this year. Detroit has chased away all supermarkets from within the city limits. It is difficult not to factor in the fixing of the OJ trial venue and outcome to prevent a recurrence of the post Rodney King verdict riots of only a few years before. Political Correctness has obfuscated reality at the world's peril. I wonder how many people realize that Nelson Mandela was sent to prison for attempting to blow up a school bus and that his wife Winnie is implicated in several homicides? One can argue against his treatment in an apartheid prison though that should not excuse the basic character of the man. It is that pass from accountability which has made most tin pot dictators like Robert Mugabe possible.

Posted by Joselito | August 24, 2007 2:01 PM

Perhaps the question "What do we do about Zimbabwe" should be " What should we do about the UN" which helps to establish the Zimbabwes and the Palastines, then looks on as they decompose. If the country has opportunities for graft, the UN remains interested in them. If there is no graft factor, the UN plays Pontius Pilate, washing its hands of them.

Posted by patrick neid | August 24, 2007 8:57 PM

This was all predicted over 20 years ago by most folks with more than double digit IQ's. Worse still in the interim, Mugabe--the real beast for you boxing fans, was feted at the UN and other functions worldwide. Mandela himself gave his stamp of approval with his silence while jimmy carter hovered in the background. This bastard, like a few others around the world, can't die soon enough.

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