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Desperately hunting gems in Zimbabwe

Sorry to link to a depressing story on such a beautiful Friday morning here in ol’ London town, but this Bloomberg article on what is happening in Zimbabwe is a good read – about the monster who has crippled that beautiful country and the desperation of the people living in it.

Just think of the missed opportunity: a country with some of the richest natural resources in the world, a great climate for agriculture, English-speaking. Zimbabwe, liberated from the worst aspects of white rule and under the rule of law, could have been the Australia or New Zealand of southern Africa. I fear it will serve as a textbook example instead of the evils of political cronyism and warmed up Stalinist economics.

I have heard it said many times that a country with natural resources is almost cursed, while a tiny island with no resources other than the entrepreneurial gusto of its inhabitants is blessed. Zimbabwe certainly adds to that idea.

15 comments to Desperately hunting gems in Zimbabwe

  • Chris Harper

    Just what is there to comment on here? Zimbabwe is a screaming tragedy whichever way you look at it.

    My leftie friends, even as recently as five years ago, still loved and admired this butcher as much as a decade after the sound of his name started making me want to puke.

    Definition of a right winger – Someone who understands that when a thug starts murdering he is a murderous thug.

    Definition of a leftie – Someone who, when a thug starts murdering, says “Dead people? What dead people? He is my hero, you must be a racist”.

  • Julian Taylor

    Being at a point where they can not scavenge and where farm profits and produce is seized by Mugabe, at what point does even a highly tolerant citizen of that country (and they have been through a hell of a lot so far) break and turn to revolution? Surely there isn’t much more that Mugabe can do to his people, apart from genocide or invading his neighbours?

  • Look at Zimbabwe, then look back at Germany before WWII. The only difference is that Germany went from democracy to totalitarianism, we can only hope that the reverse happens in Zimbabwe. Its never going to happen overnight though.

  • Sadly, the South African government is full of people who still thing Mugabe is a heroic figure to be emulated, and who still come up with rhetoric (on “land reform” for instance) that sound just like what he said 15 years ago. One would hope that they would look north and think “In the name of Almighty God, this is what must be avoided”, but one doesn’t see a lot of this. There is too much ideology and too little in the way of hard questions as to what works in reality. The government in South Africa has largely confined it to rhetoric rather than actions so far, and that is as far as it may go, but when I was there recently I spoke to lots of people who were clearly spooked by it.

    In truth, even if it does go no further than rhetoric in South Africa, this is still terrible, as South Africa is the only country with the ability to lean on Mugabe and do something to stop him. It is South Africa’s presence that makes it unlikely that he will try to invade his neighbours and whose military may well have to stop him some time, and a stronger position from them would be politically helpful.

  • Nick M

    My parents taught in neighbouring Zambia in the early 70s. At the time Rhodesia was the bread-basket of Southern Africa and my mother swears to this day the best fruit and veg she ever got was in the markets of Salisbury. Zimbabwe now relies on food imports from Zambia. I’m not trying to hark back to the days of colonialism, it’s just that’s my point of contact with the place. Mugabe is evil and clearly becoming increasingly unhinged. My wife saw him recently on the telly and he was wearing a shirt with his own image on it. Does anybody in even a semblance of a right-mind wear a shirt with a pic of themselves on it?

    The people who ought to hang their heads in shame here are the South Africans. They could remove “Uncle Bob” but they don’t because of the historical links between ZANU-PF and the ANC. I regard this as being the equivalent to admiring Lenin because the Czar was a despot.

  • not the Alex above

    Dear Chris

    Pinochett, Suharto, Saddam untill 1990, none of these fit your maxim i’m afraid.

    The Independent a paper you would probably define as ‘leftie’ has been banging on about Mugabe for years.

    Not that i’m trying to say some ‘lefties’ don’t support monsters like you say, just that it’s a two way street.


  • not the Alex above

    I read a book about UN peacekeeping recently and the thing that really struck me was ‘humanitarian aid’ should really be called ‘prelonging the death of bankrupt states’ and ‘how to make sure a civil war never ends’.

    In Zimbabwae food aid is given to Mugabe to distribute as he won’t let food aid do it themselves, this just gives him even more control over the country.

    I’m sure he wouldn’t last long if the families of the army and police were going hungry.

  • nicholas gray

    This is why I’d like to join a Libertarian Movement, not just a chat room, or a blog! We should be ready to move in and offer work for metal money, and sell the Zimbabweans some guns, and some books on Capitalism and Private Property rights! Instead, we’re hypothesizing like crazy. Maybe we should be channelling all that hot air, instead of releasing it! I think that the Zimbabweans would be receptive now to such a message, and Zimbabwe, or New Rhodesia, could help liberate Africa from Statist delusions!
    Oh, well, at least we can still tell jokes.
    Q. What do you call a good politician?……..
    A. Don’t worry, nobody else knows, either!
    (Well, my neighbour’s dog laughed when she heard it.)

  • Chris Harper


    Yeah, I know, I know, but I was, and am, angry at the two faced hypocrisy of these people. A murderer was not a murderer if he engaged in Marxist rhetoric and hid his genocides and tribal ethnocides behind a facade of the correct political hatreds.

  • lucklucky


    “… Masxigora began hunting mice to support (and feed) his wife and three children soon after Mugabe began confiscating thousands of productive, white-owned farms in 2000, a policy that has since led to mass starvation. Not long ago, Zimbabwe, the “breadbasket of Africa,” exported meat and produced what was widely considered to be Africa’s finest livestock. Today, Masxigora tells me that each mouse nets $30 Zim dollars, about 12 cents, which makes him a wealthy man in Zimbabwe. “This is beef to us,” he told me in August….”

  • joel

    How is the descent of Zimbawe any different from the descent of Haiti, the 2nd nation in the New World to become independent of Europe?

    Ans. The Europeans were all murdered in Haiti (about 1802), with the survivors fleeing to New Orleans, but in Zimbabwe the whites have had their lives spared.

    So, I guess that’s progress, of sorts.

    BTW, Haiti is a small island without much resources, so you can’t blame diamonds or international companies for its descent.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    joel, well, I am not a determinist so I would not present the “curse of natural resources” point as a cast-iron rule.

  • Paul Marks

    Saddam was a socialist all his life. And (contrary to the propaganda) his armed forces did not get their weapons from Britain or the United States.

    Saharto was a mixed economy interventionist (a typical 1960s planner – like Harold Wilson or L.B.J.).

    There was a lot of killing in Indonesia is 1966, however the Marxists did start the killing (General Saharto took power because some people close to him had already been killed and he was scared that he and his family were next)). The main killing of Marxists was by peasants (using traditional peasant tools) rather than by the army.

    Of course this was after General Saharto had informed the peasants that the communists wised to collectivise their land and would exterminate any peasants that resisted. However, what Saharto said was not untrue -indeed in many parts of Asia this is exactly what the communists had done and where to do.

    Of course the great crime of Saharto was the invasion and occupation of East Timor. It is true that there was already civil war in East Timor and that the winners of the civil war would have most likely exterminated all those they thought disloyal to them – but that does not excuse the disgusting mass killings by the Indonesians.

    If only East Timor could have remained under Portugese rule – but the new rulers of Portugal (after the 1974 revolution) did not regard this as “progressive”.

    Augusto Pinochet has already been discussed on this site. I do not think that anyone ever denied that he was a killer and whether more or fewer people in Chile would have been killed had he not taken power is a moot point.

    Certainly Allende had made it clear that he was going to ignore the demands from Congress that he step down, and intended to use any means to remain in power for ever. Which is why he had large numbers of armed people from all over Latin America (and beyond) gathered in Chile.

    The great difference between Pinochet and Franco was that Pinochet was able to achieve total surprise (up to the last minute Allende seems to have believed that Pinochet was loyal to him – whereas in Spain there was an appointed “loyalist” command that managed to split the armed forces, with only one faction following the rebel Generals).

    So what had in Spain been three years of civil war was in Chile a walkover – with many of the leftists killed before they could organize anything (indeed before some of them understood what was happening).

    The later conflict (terrorism on one side and brutal counter terrorism on the other) has also been discussed.

    As for Pinochet handing over power to social democratic types. In the end he had little choice – his whole line of argument had not been that he intended to hold power for ever or build a new political system (as had been Franco’s line), but that he intended to remain in power till the Marxists were crushed and the economy rebuilt.

    Once they were finally (after many years of hunting them down) crushed he had to (in good faith) hold a vote – and he lost it. Not in spite of the good economic conditions in 1989 – but (in part) because of them, his work was done.

    Whether he would have lost if it had not been for the recession in the early 1980’s (caused by his foolish fixing of the exchange rate) is another moot point. But certainly there was less support in the vote of 1989 than there had been in the vote of 1981.

    Rhodesia and South Africa.

    Very different places.

    “White rule” in Rhodesia was a very different thing to the ideology of South Aftica (at least the during the classical period from 1948 to the 1970’s).

    As for white people in South Africa now. I do not see why they are still there – although many have left and even radicals who supported the A.N.C. have, in many cases, not returned. Going back any time soon Mr Peter Hain?

    Whether it is just or not for the blacks to seek to take over white owned farms and other business enterprises this is what they will do – sooner or later. And they have the numbers to make any resistance an absurdity. The balance of numbers is utterly different than it was in 1948.

    In order to minimize violence white people should leave South Africa now (as many have already done), whilst they can still do so with some dignity.

    Insisting on staying will just lead to much unpleasantness.

    Again I am not going to get into any argument about whether this is just or not (the blacks can point to much evil under white rule – and the whites can say that two wrongs do not make a right), but it is the way things will be.

  • tranio

    I’ve said many times about Mugabe, “where is 007 when you need him?”

  • David B. Wildgoose

    Paul Marks, Why should white people leave South Africa when their families have lived there since the 1600s and in fact there were “white” (Europeans) in South Africa before the arrival of Negroes during the Bantu expansion.

    (The original inhabitants were actually aboriginal peoples that were hunted and killed by newly arriving blacks, and interbred with by Europeans owing to a scarcity of women – hence the “coloured” population of places like Cape Town).

    Does it not occur to you that those who say whites don’t belong in Africa are actually no different to those who say Africans do not belong in Britain or Europe?