Zimbabwe Faces Starvation

As a result of dictator Robert Mugabe’s policies, the people of Zimbabwe now face starvation. Having destroyed agricultural production in the country by ending private ownership of land and farm-product markets, creating enormous hyperinflation to fund his military/police state (see here, here and here), torturing and killing opposition critics, and banning humanitarian aid (until just recently), Mugabee may now be overseeing one of the greatest disasters ever to hit this or any country. The Los Angeles Times reports:

They look like birds pecking, grain by grain, along the nation’s roadsides. Tattered women and children bend to pick up the smattering of corn blown from passing trucks. The precious grains are about all there is to eat.

Millions of people across Zimbabwe are on the brink of starvation , largely because of the failure of this year’s harvest and the nation’s collapsed economy, along with President Robert Mugabe’s ban on humanitarian aid during the recent election campaign.

. . . .

Hunger in Zimbabwe also has a political element, many people here believe. At times of food shortages, ZANU-PF, which has ruled for 28 years, has used the Grain Marketing Board, the state-owned monopoly grain distributor, to punish opposition activists at the village level and reward loyalists.

A senior board official, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions, said that right down to the district level, food distributions, the only source of maize, have been run by the army, the Central Intelligence Organization, the police and the district administrator.

With the election over and the food handed out to supporters, the silos are empty, the board official said. And the harvest was 5 percent of the expected level in some areas.

Before the prospects of starvation, life expectancy for Zimbabweans had already dropped from the low 60s to the high 30s.

Fortunately, more and more world leaders have been denouncing Mugabe’s statism and oppression, led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former South African President Nelson Mandela, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, Liberean President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and Ghana-born economist George Ayittey. But these voices remain still a small minority, and the lives of millions are now at stake.

David J. Theroux is Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Institute.
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