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From Rhodesia to Zimbabwe : The rise of poverty

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posted on Mar, 29 2008 @ 10:45 AM
An assessment of the state of Zimbabwe post Independence to present

The modern state of Zimbabwe was formed from the nation of Rhodesia by a bloody and violent struggle by Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe’s factions ZANU and ZAPU of the Zimbabwean terrorist/ freedom fighting organisation Zimbabwean peoples organisation.

The state of Rhodesia that existed before the formation of Zimbabwe was a highly prosperous country. Rhodesia was looked up to by the whole of Africa as a model, something to behold as a paragon of an African nation. Under the Rhodesian government, there was an apartheid system whereby whites were granted full citizenship while blacks were regarded as second class citizens. Im sure that we can agree that this is in principle an unethical position for any modern nation. However the ethical lines of black and white are drawn into a quagmire of grey when you consider the economic conditions of the country. Even the disenfranchised blacks of Rhodesia enjoyed a good life, where they worked for white farmers and were slowly on track to higher levels of health and education.

And then it all changed. On April 18th 1980, Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF political and war faction took control of Harare. A new flag was hoisted on the house of parliament, and the new president took his seat of power. When Mugabe took power from Rhodesia’s last cabinet, Real Growth of the economy was running at 20% per annum, an incredible rate. However slowly Mugabe began to unfold his political campaigns. Economic growth dropped to 0% within 5 years. Infrastructure systems constructed by the Rhodesians began to fall apart a decade later, and Zimbabwe’s outlook began to look bleak.

It was at this same time that Mugabe began facing pressure from his ZANU-PF supporters. Those who had previously been his stalwarts began demanding payments, and bribes to remain loyal to him. Agriculture had always been the backbone of the Rhodesian economy, with almost 100% of farmers being white Rhodesians. The same continued in Zimbabwe, and the white farmers continued to farm their soil under Mugabe’s rule at first. Yet when in the late 90s Mugabe’s supporters began to ask for more bribes from him, he began a disastrous land reclamation policy. This policy involved “repatriating” land from white farmers and giving it to black supporters. The problem was that the supporters had no idea how to farm anything, and so 90% of the fields go unutilized to this day. Without agriculture, the economy began to stall more forcefully.
To compound the problems, Mugabe began printing money to hand out to supporters in return for votes. Thus harked the death knell for this former glorious country.

Today the situation is grim. There is no other way to put it. The citizens of Zimbabwe are the worst off in the world. Unemployment is at 85% and inflation runs at 100,000%. I believe these figures speak for themselves, and for the crimes of the Mugabe administration. The Zimbabweans have gone from a state of rural idyll to a state of hunger and depravity. Life expectancy is 37 years in modern Zimbabwe! AIDS and malnutrition are rampant. Famine is no longer a catastrophe but a way of life for these poor people.

The story of Zimbabwe is a classic example of administrative mismanagement, of the greed of power and of people wanting what they are not capable of running. The story of Zimbabwe brings about some important questions, namely about the nature of independence. Are the Zimbabweans better off free and in the condition they are, or would Rhodesian rule have been preferable? It raises ethical questions about the nature of emancipation of those that have been subject to subjugation over the years. It makes us question whether we should intervene directly to stop the injustice.

But most of all, it is a story of human suffering at the hands of a tyrannical government. I for one, pray that the Zimbabweans are capable of throwing out the ZANU-PF and instead voting for Morgan Tsvangirai in the upcoming polls.

Further reading:

BBC Country Profile : Zimbabwe

Wiki article : Rhodesia

Current Event Link : Zimbabwe goes to the polls today

posted on Mar, 30 2008 @ 06:53 AM
Update: Possible good news

posted on Apr, 1 2008 @ 12:53 PM
Further update and bump

Mugabe could be close to leaving power...

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