by John Hawkins | January 23, 2008 6:03 am
“You can’t get good Chinese takeout in China and Cuban cigars are rationed in Cuba. That’s all you need to know about communism.” – PJ O’Rourke
This story about Zimbabwe, which used to be called the breadbasket of Africa before race-baiting socialist Robert Mugabe evicted the white farmers that were feeding the country from their farms and handed the land over to his supporters, reminds me of that old PJ O’Rourke quote,
THE state-run grain company in Zimbabwe has turned to making luxury dog food, while up to four million of the country’s people starve.
Doggy’s Delight is a new product from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the only firm to which farmers are allowed to sell their wheat and maize.
It is supposed to supply millers with grain for flour to make bread. But, in addition to making dog food, the company has announced that it will focus on poultry feeds this year.
Recent figures show Zimbabwe has a 360,000-tonne shortfall of maize — used to make the staple mealie-meal — and a 255,000-tonne wheat shortfall.
…The GMB is delighted with the success of Doggy’s Delight, a pre-cooked, high-protein instant dog meal. “Production of dog food by the GMB is now on full throttle,” said the company nutritionist, William Ndindana.
Five tonnes of Doggy’s Delight are being produced every day, according to reports. But Zimbabwe’s hungry hounds won’t get much of a taste of the new product, which is primarily intended for the export market.
Such exports earn foreign currency — vital for the government, which is grappling with the highest inflation rate in the world at nearly 8,000 per cent.
Shortages of basics following Mr Mugabe’s disastrous price blitz in July and the soaring cost of imported goods mean struggling Zimbabweans are finding it hard enough to feed themselves, let alone their animals. Ten kilos of regular dog biscuits cost about 35 million Zimbabwe dollars (:£583 at the official rate of exchange) — more than a teacher’s monthly salary.
The cash squeeze appears to have forced many people to turn household pets out into the streets. Packs of starving dogs now roam residential suburbs.
At the height of meat shortages last year, reports from the east of the country said a local man had even tried eating dog, which is taboo in Zimbabwe.
To make matters even worse for the residents of Harare and other Zimbabwean cities, they have been hit by the second major power cut in three days.
The power went off on Monday evening and had still not returned yesterday afternoon.
Traffic lights were not working in most of Harare; water supplies were cut; telephone lines down, and radio transmission was interrupted.
“This country’s really bad now. It’s on its knees,” said George, a caretaker at a block of flats in a Harare suburb. “No power, no phone, no water. No mealie-meal. We’re starving.”
The government stepped in, ran the people who were feeding the country out of business, and now the whole country is starving. So, what does government do? They focus on making dog food instead of feeding the human population and irony of ironies, even Zimbabwe’s dogs are starving as the government churns out dog food by the ton.
PS: This excerpt from a Sept 2007 article at the BBC gives you a pretty good idea of why Africa remains a backwards hellhole that all the aid and good intentions in the world isn’t going to fix,
“As Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, publicly said recently many African countries still regard Mugabe as a hero because of his role as a freedom fighter.
But, they like everyone else, recognise that Mugabe has destroyed the Zimbabwean economy and is ruthlessly persecuting his own people.
Inflation was estimated at a staggering 7,600% in July and unemployment at a frightening 80%.
Families are surviving only because many of their breadwinners — both men and women — have sneaked across the border into neighbouring states and are sending money back home.
On top of this hardship, there are massive power and fuel shortages, and reports indicate that “price controls that the government enforced in June have emptied shelves and depleted stocks, bringing many shops and factories to a standstill”.
…There are various reasons for the reluctance to move against Mugabe.
One of them is what Don Mckinnon has said: Mugabe is still a revolutionary hero to many in Africa because he stood up against the racist minority government of Ian Smith.
A second reason — and I suspect this is particularly true in South Africa — leaders fear a backlash from militant groups within their own countries who would use any anti-Mugabe action to suggest that they were selling out to “imperialist” (or “white”) powers in Europe and North America who want to oust Mugabe.”
Sure, Mugabe has utterly destroyed his nation’s economy and is starving his people to death, but he’s sticking it to the “white” powers, so he is a “hero.” Well, why don’t all the “imperialist nations” step back and let the people who think Mugabe is a “hero” feed the people in Zimbabwe and give them foreign aid. If they like the guy, let them deal with the problems he’s creating.
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