Friday, December 16, 2005

Command agriculture in Zimbabwe

Bob Mugabe has realized that his people don't care how much he blames the West for food shortages, they simply want to be able to buy basic foodstuffs. In response, Mugabe has instituted a program called "command agriculture".

In an attempt to rescue his failing programme of land redistribution, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is trying to involve the army in a "command agriculture" programme.

"Instructions have already been passed onto battalion commanders," a Zimbabwean army major told the BBC.

Five years after Mr Mugabe ordered the seizure of the white-owned commercial farms, agricultural production has halved. [...]
Apparently he got the idea from China (the two nations have increasingly close ties) which made use of it in the past. They in turn got the idea from the USSR, who also used it in hard times--notably during the two great famines following attempts at collectivization.

Mugabe also picked something else up from Stalinist times: blame counter-revolutionaries for sabotaging brilliant ideas:

Mr Mugabe has admitted that the people to whom he gave some 4,000 farms have some responsibility for the country's current problems.

"Mugabe is now saying that the people who are on the farms are opposition supporters and that they are sabotaging the country. He says the army must take over. [...]

Roy Bennett, a former opposition MP who lost his farm in the recent seizures, describes the scheme as "a non-starter".

"For farming, you need experience and commitment. The army has neither."

Many soldiers and other officials have already been given land individually under the land reform programme.

Also, like Stalin, he shows no hints of quitting his land redistribution program. Lenin at least halted the first attempt at collectivization after a year or so.

The extent of Mugabe's mismanagement is neatly summed up thusly:
A country which once exported grain must now import 80% of its foodstuffs.

The hospitals are filled with malnutrition cases with the very old and the very young the worst affected. [...]

The hospital puts children on an emergency feeding programme, releases them but they are back within weeks because, the doctor says, their parents have "no meat, eggs, beans, sugar or milk". [...]
Mugabe also recently refused food aid.