Thursday, June 10, 2004

Following on from Murray's comments about Zimbabwe's decision to abolish private ownership of land, I feel moved to post this excerpt from a recent SkyNews interview with Bob Mugabe:

STUART RAMSAY: When we first arrived here a couple of weeks ago, government ministers estimated crop production at 1.5 million, many thought that that was a little high. In two weeks it went up to 2.3, now how did that happen? You didn't suddenly have a bumper harvest and they'd got their figures wrong. The fact is, and the view from the outside is that you will get 2.3 million tons but you will do it by buying it from outside, probably from Zambia.

ROBERT MUGABE: Do you want to wait here until the harvest is over and then you will see....

STUART RAMSAY: I'd like to come back and see it and I'd like to see'.

ROBERT MUGABE: Well come back, you'll be free, you are invited to come back.

STUART RAMSAY: Are you going to be buying food from outside?

ROBERT MUGABE: No. Definitely no, never. Not this year.

STUART RAMSAY: So why are all these estimates wrong Mr President?

ROBERT MUGABE: From agriculture. We have an agricultural system which is second to none in Africa.

STUART RAMSAY: Had is the argument, not has. It is no longer producing the...

ROBERT MUGABE: Have, we have.

STUART RAMSAY: So why are these estimates so wrong?

ROBERT MUGABE: The whites who were here were mere actor farmers, ill educated and we brought in a system which is much more enlightened than the system they had, you see. Go everywhere and you will see agronomists, you will see our agritects, exchanging officers who are well educated and they give us these estimates across the country.

If Mugabe really believes that 'agronomists' and 'agritects' are moving out across the country he's either deluding himself or engaging in deception on a vast scale. I'm forced to wonder whether the problem might be that he actually does believe all this stuff. They say that in the most blood-thirsty regimes, Stalinist Russia, Saddam Hussein's Iraq etc, govt officials and bureaucrats were often so scared of the leader that they would tell him whatever they thought it was that he wanted to hear. Could it be that Zimbabwe has now reached a similar phase? Is the Zimbabwean cabinet simply feeding Mugabe a line? Zimbabwe is still a de jure democracy with a working parliament, so it's hard to imagine that Mugabe hasn't heard criticism of the disastrous land reform programme. Still, he appears convinced that the MDC is a mouth-piece for Britain and that criticism of his rule is based on racism and outright lies so perhaps he feels able to disregard all the negative reports about the state of Zimbabwean agriculture. What a joke!


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