Monday, January 15, 2007

Seeking White Farmers For Long Term Relationship

The Mail & Guardian reports that representatives from a handful of African nations have begun headhunting white farmers in Zimbabwe in hopes of drawing members of this beleaguered group to promote agricultural growth in their own countries. Among the potential suitors include Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (hey, beggars cannot be choosers), Malawi, Angola, and Tanzania. Others may well lie in the wings. Far from an ideal situation, this opportunity might well represent the best solution to an increasingly untenable situation.

For nearly two decades after Zimbabwe broke free from the shackles of white dominance Robert Mugabe threatened to take white farm land. When he had the opportunity to develop a fair and reasonable program to transfer land from white to black proprietorship he did not do so. Then, in recent years, Mugabe chose to demagogue the issue. Black loyalists of his rogue regime started violently stealing land willy nilly (or, if you prefer, pell mell) without regard to whether or not they could actually farm it, and as a consequence Zimbabwe's agricultural productivity, once the envy of the continent, has disintegrated. People are going hungry, shelves are barren, fields lie fallow while ruffians occupy former farmlands. A program of redistribution that would once have been fully justifiable if handled appropriately has come to represent yet another example of Mugabe's morally and intellectually corrupt autocracy.

It remains to be seen if such a program is viable. But it would be telling if other former victims of colonialism benefit from Mugabe's thuggishness by inviting some of the most intransigent colonial settlers into their countries to revive or promote agricultural development. Mugabe does not seem to have a finely developed sense of irony. Nonetheless, he is an inadvertant ironist of the first rank.

(One of the cool aspects of the new Blogger system is that I can search for all posts within the blog on a given topic. Here, for example, are -- I trust -- all dcat posts on Zimbabwe.)

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