Zimbabwe

Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken over Zimbabwe, by outmaneuvering the 93-year old Robert Mugabe and promising immunity for Mugabe and his family. By the standards of Africa, the transition has been smooth and orderly. Mnangagwa is taking over without having to fight a civil war and he will not be killing his political opponents. The Mugabe faction has aged off and the remaining elements are willing to take a payoff to retire from politics. It has been one of the more peaceful transfers of power in African history

Zimbabwe is of interest here, because of its history, but also because it has been a great case study of what happens under African rule. When the country was born, following the Lancaster House Agreement and subsequent elections, Zimbabwe was one of the wealthier countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This was despite a long 15-year civil war between white Rhodesia and two black guerrilla movements, both backed by the Soviet Block and independent black nations. The new nation was born with a lot of advantages.

Zimbabwe’s first president, after independence, was a guy named Canaan Banana, no kidding, but he was just a puppet. Robert Mugabe’s ZANU party had won the nation’s first election, making him Prime Minister and Head of Government. His first act was to send the Fifth Brigade, a North Korean-trained military unit, into Matabeleland, the home of the main opposition party. This unit slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians accused of supporting dissidents, which meant supporting the wrong side in the election.

In the first ten years of independence, Zimbabwe’s economy grew steadily worse as Mugaba grabbed land from white farmers and stole anything that he could steal. The decline in the economy and the spread of HIV, resulted in civil unrest and strikes by the civil service. The answer to this was repression and more land grabs. The interesting thing about the land reform efforts is they were pretty much the opposite of what the nation needed, but they were exactly what Mugabe needed. It helped him keep power.

Of course, no summary of Mugabe’s policies can skip past his debasing of the currency in an effort to inflate away the nation’s debts. As is always the case, this produced a vicious cycle, where each round of money printing warranted another round of money printing. In a few years locals were carrying around billion dollar banknotes. By the end of the last decade, the largest note was 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars. They were useless, as locals used American dollars, but they did make for funny gag gifts and novelty items.

The new regime in Zimbabwe takes over a busted country. In constant dollars, per capita GDP is a third of what it was at independence. The agricultural sector is flat on its back and even mining, which is run by European firms, struggles due to the violence and general chaos. Mnangagwa takes over promising a new era and he says that rebuilding Zimbabwe is the top priority. More important, he is hinting at political reforms to bring in all of the factions of the country, including the remaining whites and exiled non-blacks.

That last bit is a main point of interest. The best way to describe Mugabe’s treatment of whites is as a decades long act of revenge. The best way to describe Mugabe’s rule was as a decades long proof that Ian Smith and his supporters in the West, we right all along about the realities of African politics. The fact that white farmers are being asked to return, and many are returning, is the first flicker of hope for the country in two generations. It means that the country may not be forever condemned to squalor.

It’s easy to be overly optimistic about Africa, as the Africans have an uncanny habit of finding the bad option and then making it even worse. There’s also the fact that Emmerson Mnangagwa is not exactly a break with the past. He is a ZANU party insider, who was an integral part of implementing Mugabe’s policies. He is not called the “crocodile” because he is a sentimental lover of a free and open society. People who get too close to Mnangagwa, like people get too close to crocodiles, usually come to bad ends.

Even so, Zimbabwe has a lot going for it. Like Botswana, it is not fractured into a bunch of different tribes. The Shona are about 70% of the population and the Ndebele are about 20%, with a distinct homeland. Also like Botswana, it has a lot of natural wealth and the willing support of neighboring countries, like Botswana and South Africa. If the government re-institutes property rights, it would see a flood of English speaking companies and tourists, coming in to spend money and invest in the economy.

The comparisons to Botswana are important. It is the one nation in sub-Saharan Africa that has not been a disaster. It has a per-capita GDP of $28,000. More important, it has a highly diverse economy, so the median is higher than the rest of Africa. It has also enjoyed relatively peaceful politics, holding elections and avoiding civil war, revolts and genocide. It also has one of the lowest violent crime rates on the Continent. The murder rate is a fifth of Baltimore. By the standards of Africa, Botswana is a paradise.

Why should anyone care?

Well, the most important graph in the world is going to make everyone care in the coming decades. While it is unreasonable to think that most of African countries can sustain a modern economy, some of them can be much better than they are now. That would mean better civil control and more responsible government. They may never be Athens, but they can be assets in dealing with the more dysfunctional Africa societies. At the minimum, there can be a few less African countries dependent on the white world for survival.

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MMinLamesa
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MMinLamesa

Kim du Toit suggests absolutely no more aid. I agree. Maybe weapons to keep them at each others’ throats.

calsdad
Guest
calsdad

I’ve disagreed with Kim du Toit on other things – (and even got booted off his site many years ago) – but I agree with him on that one. No more aid. The other reason I say no more aid – is for the same reason I say no more welfare over here. Bleeding hearts and welfare don’t solve anything. In my opinion – the ability to self sustain is a vital REQUIREMENT for actual progress. You do not raise your children to live in your basement for the rest of their lives. They are supposed to move into the… Read more »

Member

That’s cruel, heartless, and implicitly calling for genocide and starvation.

I completely approve.

calsdad
Guest
calsdad

It’s not genocide – if you do it to yourself. It might be starvation – but again: You did it to yourself thru your own stupidity. But I understand what you’re getting at. So to me that is the biggest hurdle. Getting the point across to people that they should suffer for their own mistakes. We all ought to suffer for our own mistakes in fact. What you subsidize you get more of – including stupidity. I’m not much up on my Bible – but isn’t there something in there about reaping what you sow – and not suffering fools… Read more »

Alzaebo
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Alzaebo

It’s like the cat lady feeding the hundred cats in her home.

Anonymous White Male
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Anonymous White Male

The unfortunate reality of Africa is that anything that increases the population of blacks increases the number of potential threats to civilized humans. The Prime Directive for Africa! Observe but don’t interfere. Disease, famine, and murder will keep them at manageable numbers.

Drake
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Drake

That most important graph in the world will eventually have a dramatic downturn in it.

Blue hat
Guest
Blue hat

Interesting you say that because the population of Africa is predicated on the West paying into it at current and greater levels. Before the colonial era the population and its rate of growth was much lower. The West will have a revision and this has a wave effect and greater downstream impacts.

Severian
Guest

I hope it’s not too late to enter the Least Insightful Comment of the Year contest, because I just want to say: Canaan Banana — I believe it’s actually The Reverend Canaan Banana — was awesome. When even other batshit insane African dictators think you’re batshit insane, that’s some paladin-level crazy. Now I have to go find Mark Steyn’s articles on him… thanks for the Christmas laugh!

Arsenal762
Guest
Arsenal762

Is he more interesting than General Butt Naked of Liberia, though?

Herzog
Guest
Herzog

Wasn’t Mugabe, technically speaking, Reverend Robert M. too?

Member

I don’t know if he stayed that way, but Mugabe was raised Catholic.

JohnTyler
Guest
JohnTyler

http://www.skepticaldoctor.com/2017/12/10/three-part-series-on-zimbabwe/

The above link is a series of articles by Theodore Dalyrmple; a British doctor who has worked in Africa.

Sergey
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Sergey

> The comparisons to Botswana are important. It is the one nation in sub-Saharan Africa that has not been a disaster.

62% of Botswana exports are diamonds; another 22% is gold. 80% of the population is involved in substance farming (1.9% of GDP) – yet, providing only half of the food the country needs. They import the rest, including 70% of all consumed electricity (from South Africa).

De Beers effectively owns the country.

It’s a living proof of the statement that European colinialism is the best thing that ever happened to Africans.

Guest
Guest
Guest

Sergey, you beat me to the punch on Botswana GDP. The sole reason that Botswana is relatively affluent is that the government in Botswana struck a 50% royalty agreement with the DeBeers family, which the DeBeers have scrupulously honored. Without diamonds, Botswana would be just another impoverished African shithole.

Sergey
Guest
Sergey

> which the DeBeers have scrupulously honored That DeBeers have had honoured the agreement is not a surprise. Botswanians, on the other hand… What exactly prevented them from “milking a better deal” out of the whites, or nationalising the assets? Africans around them did this everywhere in the 1960s. Hence my statement re “owned”. Look at the biographies of their presidents: Ian Khama – “attended Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where the British Army trains its officers.” Festus Mogae – “Mogae studied economics in the United Kingdom, first at University College, Oxford, and then at the University of Sussex.” Etc. etc.… Read more »

Guest
Guest
Guest

>> What exactly prevented them from “milking a better deal” out of the whites, or nationalising the assets? Africans around them did this everywhere in the 1960s.

Not arguing with your main point in any way, but I believe the answer to this question is that the large diamond finds in Botswana did not occur until the 1970s, so there was not much wealth to nationalize during the 1960s era of African nationalization.

Observer
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Observer

In addition to gold & diamonds, Botswana also has the unique resource of the Okavango Delta, a habitat of big pretty wildlife that tourists will pay generously to see. Also, in my time in South Africa, I remember hearing that the newly independent Botswana started their existence with Britain relatively cordially & without a lot of tribal jostling internally. So they were not in the grip of an anti-white rage or needing to buy loyalty through patronage on Day One. So they decided to hire the competent British & white African civil servants getting booted from their posts in the… Read more »

Sergey
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Sergey

It’s nice to hear from a person, who had seen it first-hand. Thanks.

Do you think that Botswana is a sovereign state and not a colonial territory with a more humane treatment of indigenous population that it used to be 150 years ago?

Rev.Hoagie
Guest
Rev.Hoagie

We’ll watch the bodies pile up under Rev. Banana and say how we expected better and how we hope for the future of Africa. Ha. The reason Africa is the way it is is because it’s full of Africans.

Member

Banana died in prison a long time ago.

LFMayor
Guest
LFMayor

Yes, well. We still have General Butt Naked, who is now a traveling minister. Hope springs eternal, we just have to figure out how to get him clear across the continent.

I beseech the heavens for a Kwanzaa miracle.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

“a Kwanzaa miracle”!
I am so stealing that

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

The discussion of Zimbabwe with the African side of my extended family yielded these nuggets: Africans think of Zimbabwe as a “third world dictatorship”. They carefully measure the gradations of governmental abuse, and define away the worst from the next-worst, and so on. The idea that the old Rhodesian white farmers are being called back, here and there, and the idea that some of them would indeed go back, is seen as normal behavior. (I get the call going out, but for whites to actually return?) The attitude is not that the farms being seized from the whites, sometimes by… Read more »

Corn
Guest
Corn

“The idea that the old Rhodesian white farmers are being called back, here and there, and the idea that some of them would indeed go back, is seen as normal behavior. (I get the call going out, but for whites to actually return?)”

I agree. As a farmer’s son I understand the love for and sentimental attachment to the land, but how does that guy know he won’t get evicted (or lynched) during the next economic downturn or transfer of power?

I guess he figures high risk/high reward.

Member

How long the Honkey come home effect lasts is purely a function of how quickly the first one gets murderd and what happens to the killers.

Member

The fictional Marvel Comics African nation of Wackanda has always amused me. It is indeed “wacky” to think of an isolated and independent African nation that is the most technologically advanced nation in the world, has developed computer tech that is unhackable, etc. Right. The reality is that every nation in Africa, including Botswana, is a hell hole, as is every enclave in the west that is majority black (Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, etc.). Best thing that ever happened to Africa was colonialism. Killing whitey maybe wasn’t such a good idea, and the NGOs are only delaying the inevitable.

LFMayor
Guest
LFMayor

I’m going through the comments again this evening and reading your “fictional Marvel comic” sentence is still cracking me up.
A functional, let alone superior Chocolate City is so far beyond the edge of fantasy that even Marvel Comics Inc. feels compelled to use the disclaimer Fictional. I can just hear the editors
Ah Shit, even 44 double EE’s wearing dental floss and two bandaids won’t be able to sell this line…

joey+junger
Guest
joey+junger

If you really want to cry, look up pictures of Salisbury, Rhodesia, now Harare, Zimbabwe. Or, if you want to get the same vibe, look up pictures of Memphis, Tennessee pre- and post-Civil Rights. Everyone talks about Detroit (rightfully so) but look up any midsize Southern city or city with a large black population before and after Johnson’s War on Poverty. It seems that when the people in charge declare a war on something, it always gets worse. I’m sure if McCain doesn’t die of cancer in the next year or two, and Lindsay Graham’s blackmailers don’t dispose of those… Read more »

calsdad
Guest
calsdad

RE: “we’ll be getting a flood of refugees from the next failed Neocon intervention”. This is a point I have made time and time again trying to argue with normie type “conservatives” about their un-thinking support for getting the US into war after war after war. When you argue that the US should get into a war in some overseas shiitehole – you are also arguing for bringing in a whole bunch of immigrants or refugees from whatever place it is we just sent the military to. That’s the way it has worked over and over and over again. It’s… Read more »

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

UN joke: An African and an Asian attend a UN development program. 2 years later, the Asian invites his African friend to visit. He shows off his fine house and new car, and points out the window. “See that new highway out there? 15 percent, right off the top!” he exclaims. 2 years after that, the African invites his Asian friend. The Asian is astounded. The African has a gated mansion and a fleet of limosines. “How did you do it!” the Asian says. The African points out the window. “See that new highway there?” The Asian asks, “What highway?… Read more »

Member

“Empire of Dust”, on yt for anyone interested. The original has been deleted, but someone else re-uploaded it. Or this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LhSjLNyM-s . for a whiplash take.

Member

I read somewhere else that the Chinese were involved in pushing Mugabe aside. Evidently, China is investing, big time, in several African countries. I wish them the best luck and I hope the Chinese can bring some sanity to that continent.

A.T. Tapman (Merica)
Member
A.T. Tapman (Merica)

The Chinese will fail, and Africa will “win” again.

John Smith
Member

Not necessarily. China has the stones to do things America won’t anymore. The sad truth is that without a whip on his ass, the average black man is useless. I’m sorry – there’s no nice way to say it.
China can and will use whips, and won’t hesitate to put down local gangsters and warlords that threaten their investments.

DinnZciS C. Nufin
Guest
DinnZciS C. Nufin

What an ironic statement, “Without a whip”. Years ago an elderly gentleman, whose father supervised the Chinese labor building railroads in the American West said the same thing about the Chinese.

John Smith
Member

The Great Wall Of China dwarfs the efforts required for a mere railroad. At the time it was being built, Romans were building aqueducts, amphitheatres and soaring monuments.

Africans were building mud huts. They’re still building them today.

Hardvanger
Guest
Hardvanger

John Casey says China is looking to resettle 300 million Chinese in Africa.

calsdad
Guest
calsdad

Africa will be China’s Afghanistan.

slumlord
Guest
slumlord

You missed the fact that Botswana is Christian.

Member

So is Zimbabwe

Herzog
Guest
Herzog

Relative ethnic homogeneity, while certainly helpful, isn’t enough. After all, Somalia has 99.5 per cent Somalis.

Member

I doubt the importance of that graph, given that there is no way sub-saharan Africa can ever reach those levels of population. War, famine, and disease will see to it

Ris_Eruwaedhiel
Guest
Ris_Eruwaedhiel

Various religious groups and NGOs will import them into the West, which is what they are doing now.

sixtyville
Guest
sixtyville

Whites won’t be back in Zimbabwe. Once murdered, twice shy.