Thursday, October 05, 2006

Whites brace for final blow in Zimbabwe

Things have gone downhill for white farmers in Zimbabwe since they lost the protection of the Lancaster Agreement in 1989. This loss began an affirmative action program of land redistribution in which white farmers had their land turned over to the state. The state then proceded to dole it out to well-connected black friends of the Mugabe regime.

With a staggering unemployment rate of 80%, a quarter of the population infected with HIV, a plummeting economy (GDP shrunk 7% last year), ubiquitous poverty (PPP of $2,300), and international disdain, it appeared that desperation might force Mugabe to stop pillaging the only productive residents he had left. As white farmers fled to a welcoming Mozambique, they hastily turned brush into an agricultural bounty. Zimbabwe tried to get them back as well as letting those who remained stick around.

But such overtures lasted only a few months. By June, the Zimbabwean government began forced 'purchases' of white-owned farmland at about a tenth of fair market value. Given a true inflation rate of over 1,000% (although officially it is said to be 267%), that 10% is cut down again by the same magnitude a year later. People who own real estate and the means of production suffer relatively little from rampant inflation, because as prices for labor and material increase so does the nominal value of the property and the price of the goods or services produced. The worst time to sell real assets is during an inflationary period, because the cash received quickly loses value. So Mugabe really ravaged the whites.

Imagine the government 'buying' your $200,000 house from you for $20,000. A year later, that $20,000 is really worth $2,000. Just like that you go from middle class to destitutely poor.

It's hard to see why any white farmers remain. Understandably a farmer does not want to leave the place he's lived for his entire life. He knows the terrain, the climate, his neighbors. Fleeing doesn't just require abandoning home, it also presents big economic hurdles, as Zimbabwe's economy as computed by its official exchange rate is only 11% of what it is if computed using purchasing power parity. Moving to the developed world essentially cuts his wealth down to a tenth of what it had been before he even starts 'rebuilding' elsewhere.

But southern Africa has become much worse since the end of its colonial days. Zimbabwe is poorer today than it was in 1980 when it gained independence following eight years of bloody civil war. Despite previously having been the breadbasket of Africa with the land and conditions that make an agronomist drool, and contemporarily having two-thirds of its workers employed in agriculture, the country is now a net importer of food. Whites, who make up less than 1% of Zimbabwe's population, have been the last refuge of productivity in the country, but they've now had to pay the price that market-dominant minorities so often do when political control falls into the hands of the majority.

Zimbabwe is about to deal the final blow to the whites it has plundered for decades:
A new law about to pass parliament will, in effect, give the regime power in the next 90 days to dispossess the last few hundred white farmers who still cling to their land.
A couple of white families are trying to appeal the eviction notices they've already received. If they lose, the door is open for Mugabe to take everything:
A constitutional amendment passed last year declared every acre of land that has ever been listed for seizure — about 6,000 white-owned farms in total — the property of the state. That move prevented the owners from having any recourse
to the courts.
The families hope to show that the amendment does not override their right to due process. A white investor wonders why what has already been taken by the rapacious government isn't enough:
After the hearing, Daniel Nel, 44, who was a government-approved South African investor, asked: "I am a white African, so why must I go?" He said: "We are operating on about 20 per cent of the land we used to have, but we still produce
many thousands of tonnes of crops, and do so with government loans. So why do they want us to go?"
Because the white population has about a 35 point average IQ advantage over the rest of Zimbabwe's population. That's a gap wider than the one between Ashkenazi Jews and African Americans stateside. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe's wider population simply cannot compete economically with the white elite. So taking from them is the natural 'solution'. Putatively done for the benefit of the unprivileged black population, the result is a contraction of the economy by a full 40% since just the turn of the century.

There is an ecumenical lesson here about how crucial it is for the numerical majority to also remain the economic majority. When those controlling the economy become a minority, the majority will be moved to take from them. This sobering fact should inform the developed world's immigration policies.

Although the White Man's Burden has become a phrase of derision, we can help Zimbabweans and people all across the sub-Saharan. We can encourage economic transparency and discourage corruption through incentivizing good behavior via international loans and aid, and more importantly, NGOs and foreign governmental agencies should, to the extent that they want to help, devote themselves to distributing nutritional supplements, especially iodine, to as many children as possible. Raising the continent's average IQ ten points will do more for it than any number of wealth transfers, vaccinations, and scholarships for natives to study internationally.



savage said...

The writing has been on the wall for years.

It's long past time that whites leave Zimbabwe. If the black majority doesn't want Rhodesia, so be it. There are no reasons for the ancestors of dominating whites to pay for the perceived wrongs of their fathers.

Anonymous said...

if the negro cannot stand on his own two feet let him fall.

Will the US take them? It'll only be a matter of time, a generation to two, before the situation repeats itself in Mozambique as higher income, better nutrition and more food makes the natives bigger and more biologically dominant-think of well-fed Africans as a continent of nearly retarded alpha males.
The Rhodesians took up the white man's burden, including bringing tampons.
The Rhodesians should be welcomed bck to the West, having done more for the raise the living standard of Africans second only to the South Africans.
The chose no whites, no food. Why incentivize them to do anything at all. If a country killed all it's baby girls, would we give some adult women to them? The causal connection is clear.

The South Africans though, they may fight. There are still alot of whites, and AIDS will kill a high fraction of the other populations. It will be brutal. But would the US take Boers?

Anonymous said...

Market dominant minorities. Can't live with them, can't live without them. Mugabe's brand of racist/leftist populism has just about devastated Zimbabwe.

Consider it an example for the world, written in neon. Trouble is, the mainstream media can't see neon writing it doesn't want to see. So the msm ignores something vitally important for most of the world's producers to see.

crush41 said...

Right. Once a market dominant minority emerges, you've a powder keg waiting for a spark. Best to avoid the creation of the market dominant minority in the first place--work to keep the market dominant and numerically dominant group one in the same.

Anonymous said...

In a competitive global economy, you can't expect every part of the world to be able to keep up economically, as far as the population majority goes. For much of the world only a market dominant minority can bring the modern world to the country. Without the market savvy minorities, the country becomes Zimbabwe. Every. Time.

crush41 said...


Agreed. That's why I favor policies aimed at ending corruption--it encourages the developed world to come into the third-world and create wealth there. But the corporate setting, with foreign professionals working in-country is different than a small population of wealthy native ethnic pariahs.