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February 06, 2007

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Too sad for words. What must happen, is that all the monies Mugabe (and any of his cronies) has secreted away must be found and returned to Zimbabwe where it belongs.

I have a friend from Zim. She used to talk about it all the time. She doesn't anymore.

In the news: Mugabe fires finance minister. From the article:

In recent weeks there have been growing signs of civil unrest and discontent in Zimbabwe.

About 60 junior doctors, who have been striking for more than a month, have been sacked by Harare Central Hospital.

Some 350 doctors across the country have been demanding more pay and better working conditions.

The doctors received their dismissal letters on Tuesday, the president of the Hospital Doctors' Association confirmed to AFP news agency.

While that should be done, Debbie, even if all the money they've managed suck out of Zimbabwe was returned it's hard to imagine that it could begin to repair the damage Mugabe has done to their social and economic structures. All in all, a depressing situation.

At this point the money itself is the least of Zimbabwe's worries. Mugabe engaged in a very systematic campaign to attack private property and drive off or kill those people who had economic success through trade (as opposed to those who had success through pillage). Those people aren't likely to return just because he dies. He didn't just attack the capital and support structures, he killed or drove off many of the people who made it work. Even if the infrastructure had survived (which it did not) he has destroyed the functioning ability of his country's human capital. There are lots of thugish rulers in Africa. The damage Mugabe did (and is still doing) is worse than your average ruthless dictator because he has destroyed the ability of the economy to function in his wholesale attacks on private property.

Part of the structural problem hurting Zim today goes back to the independence war. Prior to the war nearly all of the high quality farmland was owned by white settlers. Land reform was an absolute necessity in order to create an economy that wasn't essentially sharecropping. It's the utter corruption and incompetence of ZANU-PF in carrying out land reform that has lead to this point. Experienced farmers have left the country, sometimes taking experienced senior farmhands, the very people who could be successful farmers if they had access to land. The nascent core of a Zimbabwean professional class has also been driven out of the country.

The Michael Wines story is on the front page, top section, of the NY Times today, by the way. (The IHT, which once was jointly owned by the Washington Post and NY Times was bought in whole by the Times a few years ago, and most important stories are in both papers, either simultaneously, or a day, later, as we all know.)

Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny,
And in this judgement there is no partiality.
So arm in arms, with arms, we'll fight this little struggle,
'Cause that's the only way we can overcome our little trouble.

Brother, you're right, you're right,
You're right, you're right, you're so right!
We gon' fight (we gon' fight), we'll have to fight (we gon' fight),
We gonna fight (we gon' fight), fight for our rights!

Natty Dread it in-a (Zimbabwe);
Set it up in (Zimbabwe);
Mash it up-a in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
Africans a-liberate (Zimbabwe), yeah.

I would guess that I'm far less well-informed than most of the commenters on this site, but I also think I'm a bit more well-informed than most of the people I associate with personally. What strikes me as odd is that this blog is the only place I'm getting any information on this situation. Even the Times article cited above only came to my attention via this site. Is it just me? I hear more about Britney Spears than I want to even while actively avoiding such information.

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Sebastian:

You'd be surprised. After Yoweri Museveni took power in Uganda, he invited back the Indian-Ugandans that Idi Amin had kicked out. A large number took him up on the offer, both because of the opportunities in rebuilding the economy and from enduring emotional attachments to the country itself.

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