The Crisis Deepens In Zimbabwe By Jane Galt

When Robert Mugabe took the lands of white farmers five years ago to redistribute to sqatters and peasants (and many well-connected blacks as well), it caused an agricultural collapse that has repeatedly brought the country to the brink of famine. Now the ripples are spreading. Agricultural exports were the main source of foriegn exchange; now that Zimbabwe is a net importer, firms can’t get foriegn currency to buy their imports, so so manufacturing is collapsing as well:

Manufacturing has slowed to a trickle, hamstrung by shortages of fuel and imported components. Businesses have been driven to barter and the black market, adding to the inflation. Appeals for government help are mostly fruitless. The government is all but broke.

“The scarcities now are coming from manufacturers who can’t deliver enough to retailers to fill their shelves,” Mr. Robertson said in an interview in Harare, the capital.

Initially the problem was that manufacturers could not cobble together enough supplies to make their products. “Now that there are more critical shortages in things like fuel,” he said, “it’s almost academic whether they can get the material, because they can’t deliver the products anyway. The end result of the shortages is that prices are rising.”

It is depressing to look back at history and see how regularly the same nice-sounding idea–“let’s take the land from the rich people who unjustly own it and give it to those who need it”–turns into tragedy for everyone. It’s even more depressing to realise that despite the seeming predictibility of the result, lots of people want to do it anyway.

This content was used with the permission of Jane Galt from Asymmetrical Information.

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