Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.”     Robert A. Heinlein

August 19, 2007

Zimbabwe Is Pretty Much Screwed

by Doug Mataconis

My co-bloggers and I have written several posts about the chaos that the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe has brought upon the African nation of Zimbabwe. Today, though, the London Telegraph reports that things have gotten so bad that the nation is four months away from complete chaos:

The economy of Zimbabwe is facing total collapse within four months, leaving the country facing a slide into Congo-style anarchy, The Sunday Telegraph has been told.

Western officials fear the business, farming and financial sectors may be crippled by Christmas, triggering a collapse of government control that could leave the country prey to warlords and ignite long-suppressed tribal tensions.

(…)

Speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject, one Western official said: “It is hard to be definitive, but probably within months, by the end of the year, we will see the formal economy cease to work.”

He added: “One of the great dangers in all this, if Mugabe hangs on for much longer, is that the country will slip from authoritarianism to anarchy, the government will lose control of the provinces, it will lose control of the towns and you will have a situation where the central authority’s writ no longer holds.”

Asked which other African nation Zimbabwe might end up resembling under a worst-case scenario, the official cited as an example the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Zaire), beset for years by famine, civil war and inter-ethnic conflict.

Now, tell me, is there anyone with even a fundamental understanding of economics who could not have predicted that this is exactly what would have been the effect of Mugabe’s socialist claptrap ?

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26 Comments

  1. But you haven’t written about the people.

    Comment by VRB — August 19, 2007 @ 10:51 pm
  2. …leaving the country facing a slide into Congo-style anarchy…

    Ugh… yet another article confusing anarchy with chaos. Seems like the chaos is caused by the current government regime. Maybe the lack of government, anarchy, will actually help the people out.

    Comment by js290 — August 19, 2007 @ 11:16 pm
  3. Wow, we needed someone to point out this information about Zimbabwe! This is hot-off-the-presses stuff! And to suspect that Mugabe might be responsible, why, that’s just genius!

    What a fantastic post. It’s almost like political and economic commentary, except it’s really stupid.

    Comment by ben — August 20, 2007 @ 1:08 am
  4. Speaking as a White Zimbabwean I do not totally agree with your predication that Zimbabwe will become like the Congo. But I may be wrong but I feel that your statement is wrong because the Shona, and the Ndebele Tribes are indigenous to the region are a “calmer and more peaceful tribe” than the Congolese. Zimbabwe is currently in a state of ruin due to Dictatorship. However the Zimbabwean people are resilient and they have not raised up against “their government”, because they are still in a “chief-tan” society, where Bob is still the chief. Western Philosophy does not apply here. if the people of Zimbabwe were to instigate an Orange Revolution then perhaps the current regime will collapse within a few hours. The West will re-open economic trade, embargo’s will be lifted, and NGO’s will flock to Zimbabwe. Some of us “Zimbabweans” may return home.

    Zimbabwe still has an infrastructure, allot of mineral resources, and fertile land, that if managed correctly can re-yield the surpass of the past. Robert mandated that Education was a fundamental right of all, and most have O-Level Education which will help the future generations. The only issue that may be real would be that the white population of Zimbabwe will no longer exist.

    Comment by Ramy — August 20, 2007 @ 7:01 am
  5. How long will it be before this happens to Venezuela? Maybe UN “peace keepers” should then help these dictators “prevent anarchy” and restore “law and order”

    Comment by natedog82 — August 20, 2007 @ 9:01 am
  6. Zimbabwe’s economy continues to be put under intense economic pressure from the West, specifically Europe, the UK and the US,
    in retaliation for Mugabe’s return of native farm land to its indigenous people in 2000. This land had previously been siezed from the native Africans by British colonists years ago, and represented the choicest farm land in the country. The West fears that Zimbabwe’s return of this land to the indiginous people to whom it rightfully has always belonged, could lead to similar action in South Africa and other African nations as well.

    Comment by Bill — August 20, 2007 @ 11:30 am
  7. Bill,

    Yeah, it was obviously the Europeans who bulldozed all the markets and homes of 20,000 people in Operation Murambatsvina (“Drive Out The Rubbish”)…most of whom happened to oppose Mugabe:

    http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/President_Mugabe_bulldozes_homes_of_200,000_across_Zimbabwe

    And it was obviously the Europeans who forced farmers off their land using thugs, gave the land to Mugabe cronies (who knew little about farming), and turned Zimbabwe from a food exporter into a food importer within seven years:

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=27857

    And it was obviously the Europeans who imprisoned Morgan Tsvangirai, and who ran torture camps in Zimbabwe to target political opponents of Mugabe:

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,4366646-110490,00.html

    Oh wait…the Europeans didn’t do any of that. It was all Mugabe’s doing.

    The only conspiracy taking place in Zimbabwe is Mugabe’s bid to seize absolute power and blame it on the Europeans when his bad fiscal policy runs the country into the ground. What’s absolutely disappointing is the number of people who are willing to ignore the incontrovertible and easily available evidence of this and accept Mugabe’s accusations at face value simply because they’re more interested in bashing Europeans for things that happened 100 years ago than finding a way to make life better for people now. People aren’t dying in Zimbabwe because the rest of the world is “conspiring” against the country, they’re dying because Zimbabwe’s president is a incompetent, racist, thug who capitalizes on Africa’s perpetual victim mentality and because he’s got way too many people in the world who support him because they think that this is what leaders and government are supposed to do.

    Comment by UCrawford — August 20, 2007 @ 1:36 pm
  8. God is still in total control, whether we think so or not – HE IS!! so why worry??

    Comment by Olly noble — August 20, 2007 @ 2:12 pm
  9. By that logic, why even bother to write in to me to ask that question? If God’s in total control, wouldn’t he actually provide total enlightenment to me on this topic and make your post unnecessary? Why bother to respond and involve yourself?

    Perhaps because you don’t have faith in God’s ability to fix problems, provide enlightenment, or control anything? Hmmmm? Sounds like a disturbing lack of faith to me, so how’s THAT for a conundrum?

    Comment by UCrawford — August 20, 2007 @ 2:35 pm
  10. The collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy is ugly, but if Africa is ever going to get going, the colonial borders have to come down.

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — August 20, 2007 @ 8:10 pm
  11. Joshua,

    Actually, I don’t think colonialism even figures into it any more…that’s just a red herring used to justify abuse. I think if Africa’s ever going to get better we need to stop propping up dysfunctional African governments with foreign aid. The problem with Africa is it’s leadership, plain and simple. And the reason that the leadership never changes things for the better is that the idiot World Bank, and idiot Europe, and idiot us, etc. keep sending them money in exchange for nebulous promises of reform that never come…in the same way that people who get onto welfare never ever seem to get off of it. Instead of reform, in exchange we usually get embarassments like this:

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3724/is_200506/ai_n14903029/pg_1

    For all the griping we do about the Zimbabwe model, at least the government’s likely going to change once things collapse…Mugabe’s going to be gone, possibly dead, and if his successors (who won’t have Mugabe’s anti-colonialist creds) will either be forced to produce results to stay in power or they’ll be removed as well. In any case, at least we won’t be pissing away our money trying to convince corrupt, incompetent dictators that a system designed entirely to benefit them is wrong.

    Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom before they get serious about trying to fix their problems.

    Comment by UCrawford — August 20, 2007 @ 9:06 pm
  12. Joshua,

    As another addition to UCrawford’s post, the food aid is the most sinister thing we do to the African continent. By dumping our subsidized food into their market, Europe, US, Canada, and all the other developed nations are killing the very agricultural industry that those countries need to prevent famines.

    If we are serious about preventing famines, we should give the money directly to the people so they can buy locally produced food and directly to the farmers so they can purchase the necessary tools for successful farming.

    If we are serious about reforming corrupt governments, we need to stop propping them up and distributing foreign aid through those those governments. All African government clamor for more foreign aid, but aid never reaches those that need it. Instead it’s gobbled up by the government and their friends. Those African government need foreign aid to continue misbehaving like this. We should not reward them for doing so.

    Comment by TanGeng — August 20, 2007 @ 9:27 pm
  13. Quite honestly Africa has become so dependent upon the rest of the world that I wonder if that continent will ever be able to make it on it’s own.

    It’s all sort of ironic, considering we all originated there.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 20, 2007 @ 9:31 pm
  14. Actually, I don’t think colonialism even figures into it any more…that’s just a red herring used to justify abuse. I think if Africa’s ever going to get better we need to stop propping up dysfunctional African governments with foreign aid.

    I’m pretty amazed you could type these two sentences back to back with no hint of irony.

    The nation-state was a long, nasty, ugly, bloody development in European history. As recently as 1900, the national governments did not figure prominently in identity. Sure, “France” was the government, but a person was less French and more Basque, Gascon, Breton, Piedmontese, Norman, Burgundian, etc.

    The same thing exists in Africa. Sure, “Kenya” is the government, but a person is less Kenyan and more Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo, Kisi’i, etc. Problem is, whereas France was a long, albeit ugly, development, Kenya is a short development. Violently throwing together different, often antagonistic peoples under the same government and saying, “Let liberal democracy bloom!” is just bushing*.

    In time, Kenya may become more like France, but it would be better if it became more like the end of the Roman Empire.

    * bush (v.) – to assign messianic powers to the state and assume all will be well.

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — August 20, 2007 @ 9:46 pm
  15. Joshua,

    Actually, I think post-colonial Africa is a case study in the entire power-corrupts-and-absolute-power-corrupts-absolutelty meme.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 20, 2007 @ 9:54 pm
  16. Joshua,

    Maybe we aren’t arguing against each other then. Perhaps you are saying that the African should not exist along the political borders that are current drawn, and once we accept that premise, all current governments corrupt or not corrupt lack legitimacy and thus are unworthy of our support.

    Whereas, we might be more narrowly focused and are thinking merely about how the US should change its policy in Africa. Withdrawing recognition of the governments entails far more than just ending foreign aid, but on the matter of foreign aid and destabilizing corrupt governments, the two amount to the same thing.

    Comment by TanGeng — August 20, 2007 @ 10:36 pm
  17. Joshua,

    I see your point about the artificial boundaries…I’ve argued the same thing before about the Middle East, and I’m irritated that I missed that with Africa. Western interference and the arbitrary drawing of boundaries does disrupt the internal politics of African nations by forcing disparate tribes to form coalition governments that they don’t want to participate in. So I agree with your point about the borders. Doesn’t change my original proposal, however, which is still to cut off the funding from the international community. The only way for the people to redraw their own boundaries is to let the system we imposed collapse on its own. With aid all we’re doing is propping up the system that’s creating dysfunction in the first place.

    Comment by UCrawford — August 20, 2007 @ 10:47 pm
  18. Joshua,

    By the way, I love the term “bushing”. Brilliant!!!

    Comment by UCrawford — August 20, 2007 @ 10:50 pm
  19. Maybe we aren’t arguing against each other then. Perhaps you are saying that the African should not exist along the political borders that are current drawn, and once we accept that premise, all current governments corrupt or not corrupt lack legitimacy and thus are unworthy of our support.

    All current governments everywhere lack legitimacy and are unworthy of are support: the US as well as the Republic of Malawi. That’s the ultimate argument, of course, since I’m an anarchist.

    More particularly, I’m saying that Africa would be in much better shape if its nation-states reflected the attachments and affiliations that Africans actually have: tribes, co-religionists, language speakers, etc. My guess is that a Luo state would be more prosperous and less violent than splitting the Luo across Uganada, Kenya, and Tanzania. Interestingly enough, in Europe, we’re seeing the revival of attachments to the local, from the Welsh and Scottish Parlaments, to the wide lattitude given to the regions of Spain, to the revival of dead Celtic languages, to the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — August 20, 2007 @ 11:28 pm
  20. The fact remains that Zimbawe’s troubles began when the land, originally appropriated by the British colonists, was returned to the natives. Whose land is it? If you were African, what would you think? Draconian sanctions by the West, coupled with maneuvering by the IMF and World Bank, have conspired to put Zimbabwe’s economy where it is today. Mugabe’s obviously no saint, but contrary to the picture painted by the West, he has some popular support.

    Sometimes (frequently) removing the leader we don’t like leads to a worse situation. The opposition there lacks popular support, in spite of the dire state of the nation. Why do you folks think that some other African leaders still seem to support Mugabe, in spite of pressure from the West to condemn him?

    China’s making hay in Africa while some on this board seem to propose a nebulous laissezfaire approach juxtaposed with foreign sanctions.

    Having a US base in the horn of Africa where American military play soccer with African youth is not, in my opinion, going to accomplish much.

    Comment by Bill in Kalamazoo — August 21, 2007 @ 7:25 am
  21. Quite honestly Africa has become so dependent upon the rest of the world that I wonder if that continent will ever be able to make it on it’s own.

    Just why is that?

    I think the reasonable answer is the theme of Something of Value.

    The distruction of societies and replacing a system without history. An assumption that previous history had no value to those societies.
    Allowing only a few to participate and actively fostering divisiveness to maintain the authority of the colonialist for hundreds of years, then expect in fifty for all to be well. Also the use in the Cold War of using the newly independant countries as proxies. Actively intefereing with the natural evolution of their government and trying to make new examples of democracy and capitalism or socialism.

    Comment by VRB — August 21, 2007 @ 7:59 am
  22. WHY I’M FLEEING SOUTH AFRICA
    by Anne Paton (widow of Alan Paton)
    ( London Sunday Times)

    I am leaving South Africa . I have lived here for 35 years, and I shall leave with anguish. My home and my friends are here, but I am terrified.

    I know I shall be in trouble for saying so, because I am the widow of Alan Paton. Fifty years ago he wrote Cry, The Beloved Country. He was an unknown schoolmaster and it was his first book, but it became a bestseller overnight. It was eventually translated into more than 20 languages and became a set book in schools all over the world. It has sold more than 15 million copies and still sells 100,000 copies a year.

    As a result of the startling success of this book, my husband became famous for his impassioned speeches and writings, which brought to the notice of the world the suffering of the black man under apartheid.

    He campaigned for Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and he worked all his life for black majority rule. He was incredibly hopeful about the new South Africa that would follow the end of apartheid, but he died in 1988, aged 85.I was so sorry he did not witness the euphoria and love at the time of the election in 1994. But I am glad he is not alive now. He would have been so distressed to see what has happened to his beloved country.

    I love this country with a passion, but I cannot live here any more. I can no longer live slung about with panic buttons and gear locks. I am tired of driving with my car windows closed and the doors locked, tired of being afraid of stopping at red lights. I am tired of being constantly on the alert, having that sudden frisson of fear at the sight of a shadow by the gate, of a group of youths approaching – although nine times out of 10 they are innocent of harmful intent. Such is the suspicion that dogs us all.

    Among my friends and the friends of my friends, I know of nine people who have been murdered in the past four years. An old friend, an elderly lady, was raped and murdered by someone who broke into her home for no reason at all; another was shot at a garage.

    We have a saying, “Don’t fire the gardener”, because of the belief that it is so often an inside job – the gardener who comes back and does you in.

    All this may sound like paranoia, but it is not without reason. I have been hijacked, mugged and terrorised. A few years ago my car was taken from me at gunpoint. I was forced into the passenger seat. I sat there frozen. But just as one man jumped into the back and the other fumbled with the starter I opened the door and ran away. To this day I do not know how I did this. But I got away, still clutching my handbag.

    On May 1 this year I was mugged in my home at three in the afternoon. I used to live in a community of big houses with big grounds in the countryside. It’s still beautiful and green, but the big houses have been knocked down and people have moved into fenced complexes like the one in which I now live. Mine is in the suburbs of Durban , but they’re springing up everywhere.

    That afternoon I came home and omitted to close the security door. I went upstairs to lie down. After a while I thought I’d heard a noise, perhaps a bird or something. Without a qualm I got up and went to the landing; outside was a man. I screamed and two other men appeared. I was seized by the throat and almost throttled; I could feel myself losing consciousness. My mouth was bound with Sellotape and I was threatened with my own knife (Girl Guide issue from long ago) and told: “If you make a sound, you die.” My hands were tied tightly behind my back and I was thrown into the guest room and the door was shut. They took all the electronic equipment they could find, except the computer. They also, of course, took the car.

    A few weeks later my new car was locked up in my fenced carport when I was woken by its alarm in the early hours of the morning. The thieves had removed the radio, having cut through the padlocks in order to bypass the electric control on the gates.

    The last straw came a few weeks ago, shortly before my 71st birthday. I returned home in the middle of the afternoon and walked into my sitting room. Outside the window two men were breaking in. I retreated to the hall and pressed the panic alarm. This time I had shut the front door on entering. By now I had become more cautious. Yet one of the men ran around the house, jumped over the fence and tried to batter down the front door. Meanwhile, his accomplice was breaking my sitting- room window with a hammer. This took place while the sirens were shrieking, which was the frightening part. They kept coming, in broad daylight, while the alarm was going. They knew that there had to be a time lag of a few minutes before help arrived – enough time to dash off with the television and video recorder. In fact, the front-door assailant was caught and taken off to the cells.

    Recently I telephoned to ask the magistrate when I would be called as a witness. She told me she had let him off for lack of evidence. She said that banging on my door was not an offence, and how could I prove that his intent was hostile?

    I have been careless in the past – razor wire and electric gates give one a feeling of security. Or at least, they did. But I am careless no longer. No fence – be it electric or not – no wall, no razor wire is really a deterrent to the determined intruder. Now my alarm is on all the time and my panic button hung round my neck. While some people say I have been unlucky, others say: “You are lucky not to have been raped or murdered.” What kind of a society is this where one is considered “lucky” not to have been raped or murdered – yet?

    A character in Cry, The Beloved Country says: “I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving they will find we are turned to hating.” And so it has come to pass. There is now more racial tension in this country than I have ever known.

    But it is not just about black-on-white crime. It is about general lawlessness. Black people suffer more than the whites. They do not have access to private security firms, and there are no police stations near them in the townships and rural areas. They are the victims of most of the hijackings, rapes and murders. They cannot run away like the whites, who are streaming out of this country in their thousands.

    President Mandela has referred to us who leave as “cowards” and says the country can do without us. So be it. But it takes a great deal of courage to uproot and start again. We are leaving because crime is rampaging through the land. The evils that beset this country now are blamed on the legacy of apartheid. One of the worst legacies of that time is that of the Bantu Education Act, which deliberately gave black people an inferior education.

    The situation is exacerbated by the fact that criminals know that their chances of being caught are negligible; and if they are caught they will be free almost at once. So what is the answer? The government needs to get its priorities right. We need a powerful, well-trained and well-equipped police force.

    Recently there was a robbery at a shopping centre in the afternoon. A call to the police station elicited the reply: “We have no transport.” “Just walk then,” said the caller; the police station is about a two-minute sprint from the shop in question. “We have no transport,” came the reply again. Nobody arrived.

    There is a quote from my husband’s book: “Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.”

    What has changed in half a century? A lot of people who were convinced that everything would be all right are disillusioned, though they don’t want to admit it.

    The government has many excellent schemes for improving the lot of the black man, who has been disadvantaged for so long. A great deal of money is spent in this direction. However, nothing can succeed while people live in such fear. Last week, about 10km from my home, an old couple were taken out and murdered in the garden. The wife had only one leg and was in a wheelchair. Yet they were stabbed and strangled – for very little money. They were the second old couple to be killed last week. It goes on and on, all the time; we have become a killing society.

    As I prepare to return to England , a young man asked me the other day, in all innocence, if things were more peaceful there. “You see,” he said, “I know of no other way of life than this. I cannot imagine anything different.” What a tragic statement on the beloved country today. “Because the white man has power, we too want power,” says Msimangu. “But when a black man gets power, when he gets money, he is a great man if he is not corrupted. I have seen it often. He seeks power and money to put right what is wrong, and when he gets them, why, he enjoys the power and the money. Now he can gratify his lusts, now he can arrange ways to get white man’s liquor. I see only one hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men, desiring neither power nor money, but desiring only the good of their country, come together to work for it.

    I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find we are turned to hating.

    Comment by Ramy — August 25, 2007 @ 6:59 am
  23. Vultures Circle But Regime’s Death Throes Are Prolonged

    Business Day (Johannesburg)

    OPINION
    24 August 2007
    Posted to the web 24 August 2007

    By Dianna Games
    Johannesburg

    ZIMBABWE may not look like much of an investment prospect right now, with its economy in a tailspin and the prospect of a rigged election looming on the horizon. But the deeper the country sinks into the quagmire, the more potential investors are seen sniffing about – in hopes of a fire sale, no doubt. An adage of investing is that you should try to buy at the lowest point.

    One Zimbabwean commentator wryly observes: “The vultures are circling.” The question of whether the country’s fast-deteriorating assets really represent a long-term investment has been around for a while. Bolstering the view that there is a viable future for the Zimbabwean private sector is the fact that, despite sustained assault by government policies for nearly a decade, it has remained resilient and creative.

    Everyone is looking for signs of an “endgame” for the shambolic political regime of Robert Mugabe, and the investment community is no different. Perceptions of investment viability are premised on the belief that political change, and with it economic recovery, are just around the corner.

    This waiting game is full of uncertainties. The longer the political and economic crisis goes on, the more local assets become devalued, say some observers. Others argue that the business assets are merely becoming undervalued, and therefore growing in investment potential.

    With Zimbabwean companies reeling from the latest government battering – the lunatic price-fixing edict – talk of the endgame has come to the fore once again.

    Companies are under greater pressure than ever. There was not much fat left in the system when the government decided three months ago to undermine margins in an attempt to reduce inflation.

    The consumer population briefly hailed lower prices. But it learned the hard way that there was little to celebrate, as the economy started grinding to a halt. As Mugabe was cheered to the rafters by his peers at a presidential gathering in Lusaka recently, a boy was killed back home in a stampede for sugar.

    In just a few months, the business climate inside Zimbabwe has changed from one of weary resignation to one of fear and desperation. “There was little enough trust between the government and business before, but now there is none. Everyone expects the worst,” a businessman says.

    More than 7000 people, including business people, traders, taxi drivers and a range of other commercial operators, have been arrested and “tried” in a specially convened court for allegedly violating the government’s order to cut prices. The government constantly urges consumers to spy on businesses to ensure the success of the half-price sale.

    Companies that have raw materials to hand are being forced to produce goods by members of the security forces installed in factories. Warehouses are raided to check for hoarding. Spies watch shoppers in supermarket parking lots to ensure they do not leave with more goods than decreed by government order. The government has now made such spying on the population legal with new legislation.

    A social accord once signed by the government, business and labour is sometimes mentioned as being the best mechanism for all parties to solve the economic problems in the country. The Association of SADC Chambers of Commerce and Industry said recently that new negotiations under the provisions of the accord were what was needed. In reality, this social accord has been moribund for a long time. Critics say the government’s unrealistic economic projections, as well as a lack of trust between the parties, render it dead in the water.

    This week’s big climbdown by the government on price-fixing may have resulted in part from concerns raised by the private sector, but is more likely to be about the government trying to salvage its ill-considered pre-election image.

    But even as pricing starts to normalise, the Zimbabwean business community faces yet another government-inspired threat – the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill, which is before parliament.

    Although there has been significant “indigenisation” of Zimbabwean business over the past decade, the new legislation opens up a new avenue for the government to wield a big stick over the private sector.

    The concerns in Zimbabwe seem to be less about the principle of the law itself than about how it is likely to be applied selectively – for party personnel advantage – and vindictively against regime critics by Mugabe’s officials.

    Unsurprisingly, business confidence is at an all-time low. A survey released by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries in May, just before the current crisis, showed pessimists had grown from 54% of respondents in a similar survey in 2005 to 77% last year. Nearly 70% of respondents said they did not anticipate an economic recovery in the foreseeable future, compared with 48% in 2005.

    Companies are increasingly conducting their affairs in a low-key manner and massaging their results to ensure they keep beneath the government’s radar. Doing well in a crumbling economy makes a company a government target.

    According to an economic report by a leading banking group, more than 40% has been shaved off the value of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in the three months the price blitz has endured.

    The Reserve Bank, in response to queries by banks, this week disclosed that inflation had hit 7251% in June – almost double the last official figure, 3700% in April.

    Ironically, when the retreat from price-fixing is completed, the inflationary effect is likely to have been compounded by the price cuts, not eased by them – due to extensive restocking and other factors.

    As one economist says: “When will the government accept that its printing presses are driving inflation, not the private sector?” Money supply growth reached a massive 4211% in April.

    It is against this rather bleak backdrop that demand for investment in Zimbabwe is still outpacing supply.

    If events of the past few months have affected sentiment in any way, they have merely moved a few potential buyers from the “buy” to the “wait and see” camp. The general election next year is seen as a major signpost to investment decision-making. The poll process and its outcome could provide a clearer time frame for economic recovery.

    Although the price blitz knocked share values in the short term, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange reports that there is still much international interest in investing in Zimbabwean companies. Officials say local companies and larger shareholders show a distinct reluctance to offload significant stakes – which has resulted in sluggish trade and low liquidity. “No one wants to sell volumes at this stage. The economy has taken a beating and confidence is low,” a Zimbabwean economist says.

    However, companies might be forced to sell if an economic upturn does not come soon. Many are already battling cash-flow problems and may not be able to ride out a long wait without new capital flows.

    Right now, there is little to buy. “Everyone is setting up African investment funds, some of which are targeting Zimbabwe. But demand far outstrips supply and this is not likely change anytime soon,” says a Harare stockbroker.

    Another broker confirms that interest in investing in Zimbabwe has not declined. “Assets are very cheap compared to the rest of the world – and getting cheaper. Obviously they will be revalued when the economy improves,” he says.

    Although risk in Zimbabwe is high, so is the potential value of investments in a reformed Zimbabwe. Companies are resilient, diversified and able to withstand shocks; they have established export markets, good assets and strong management. The country generally has a strong underlying industrial base and a wealth of mineral assets.

    The sticking point, as always, is the time frame for political and economic change. The “vultures” may need to be very patient.

    Games is director of Africa @ Work, an African consulting company.

    Comment by Ramy — August 25, 2007 @ 7:10 am
  24. You know Ramy,

    Blacks have ideas and intellect too. I some time read African Ingenuity Blogwatch post at
    http://leones.notfrisco2.com/.

    Comment by VRB — August 26, 2007 @ 6:43 pm
  25. Much of Africa has a long way to go to achieve
    security and health, let alone prosperity. Perhaps as the white colonists (like Ramy) leave,
    some of the little wealth that’s left will revert back to the natives. It’s been said that the UK is considering entering Zimbabwe to help its British citizens leave. If so, watch out for an overthrow attempt, which could turn out to be a disaster.

    In the end, for those of you who believe in property rights, whose land is it anyway ???

    Comment by Bill in Kalamazoo — August 26, 2007 @ 10:33 pm
  26. Ownership based on ancestry is a right of freedom and liberty, and if the current government wants to redistribute the land to indigenous Zimbabweans then so be it.

    We may all not agree with it, but I think that most countries throughout the world have undergone some major Revolutionary Reforms, where Land Ownership has been “reclaimed and redistributed by the State”.

    In Modern western society and philosophy we may not agree with the actions taken by the Zimbabwean Government and we all shout from our fences and as for the British Government getting involved and helping out the white Zimbabweans I tend to believe that the British Government cannot “interfere” in Zimbabwean Politics.

    England acted as a moderator and was a peace broker at Lonroe, and England has also facilitated the current Zimbabwean Government in finding “a way”.

    I mean lets face it, the Zimbabwean Economy and the Rhodesian Economy was initial established by the British and many parts of the current Zimbabwean Constitution is copied verbatim on Roman Law. Both countries profited at certain times during its history and it was a good union.

    England wants Zimbabwe to re-establish itself as a solid strong African Country with strong ties with the UK and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have been trying to promote – Debt Relief for Africa – lifting certain trade embargo’s – accepting hundreds of thousands of “citizens from the once-British Empire” to work and live in the UK – Bob Galdoff, Bono and other English Citizens are constantly trying to contribute to the African Developments and the Late Princess D, and her son Prince Harry are also trying to get involved. So England has a connection with Zimbabwe, and I think the feeling of “democracy” and having the fundamental right to Vote should be the center of debate. Both Zanu PF, PF Zapu and parties like the ANC fought the “white governments” for the right to vote, and the right for freedom.

    So then let the people Vote, and let them choose the path without fear or without intimidation. Robert Mugabe did allot for Zimbabwe and I hope that he will restore this right to his people

    Comment by Ramy — August 28, 2007 @ 8:00 am

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