Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Tragedy of Zimbabwe

I have business partners in South Africa and have been visiting Cape Town for nearly ten years now. Over that time the airport has gone from a shed with 747s parked on the tarmack to a sparkling facility highlighting the tourist attractions of the country.

Some years ago I met someone with a farm in neighboring Zimbabwe. This was a white person whose family had been farming for generations since well before Robert Mugabe liberated the country (then Rhodesia) from the colonial tyrants. It was a big farm that employed many black Africans and was one of many farms that made Zimbabwe one of the most productive countries on the continent. It exported vast quantities of grain and was truly the bread basket of Africa.

When I met this farmer, the tensions with Mugabe's ZANU-PF party were growing and I asked her why she stayed? She responded with a far off look that it was the most beautiful place in the world and that she couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

Mugabe proceeded to expropriate all the white-owned farms and give the land to his political cronies. The black workers lost their jobs and homes, and the farms went barren since the new owners knew nothing about farming. Barely five years later, the country has effectively collapsed both politically and economically. I don't know what happened to the farmer I met.

How many times has love of country blinded people to growing tyranny, with the belief that such things cannot happen here?

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