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 one hundred 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 is 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 is 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.

63 thoughts on “Zimbabwe

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

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

  2. 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

  3. 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? I don’t see anything”

    The African cries, “That’s right!
    100 percent, right off the top!”

  4. 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 Polaroids of him sucking black cock, that both men will lobby for boots on the ground in more African hellholes, and we’ll be getting a flood of refugees from the next failed Neocon intervention.

    • 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 a very repeatable pattern. In fact it repeats over and over again in country after country. France is full of Muslims that came directly from it’s former colonies. Britain is also chock full of all manner of immigrants from all of it’s former colonies.

      It’s sad and comical that the majority of cuckservative normie types I run across – just never seem to make this connection. They’re argue loudly and often about how we need to be in Syria so that the ISIS blue water navy doesn’t invade the East Coast – and then they’ll argue loudly and often about how we shouldn’t bring any Syrian refugees here.

      Like the old lady in the Esurance commercial said: ” That’s now how this works – that’s not how any of this works”……………

  5. 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.

    • 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…

  6. 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 killing them, was fundamentally wrong. But rather that they were not turned over to black farmers, but to black cronies of the government, who did not know how to farm.

    All of this strikes me as an African version of the broader attitude about socialism/communism, not that it is wrong, but that it has not been done “right” yet. I doubt it will turn out well.

    • “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.

      • 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.

  7. 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.

  8. > 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.

    • 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.

      • > 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.

        They are African Rajas set by British commercial interests.

        • >> 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.

      • When discussing these things, context is important. Botswana is a paradise, by the standards of Africa. I’ll note that Zimbabwe is sitting on a massive diamond reserve. If that could be exploited as has been done in Botswana, Zimbabwe would be move a step closer to being something other than a basket case.

        • Also the highest quality chromium deposits outside Russia.

          Keep in mind, though, most of the money made off of exports was agriculture. The soil is highly fertile volcanic type, but requires extensive irrigation in the south. Those farmers are real experts, not run of the mill sodbusters. The notion that anyone could walk in and make it work has shown to be ludicrous.

    • But, 45% of Botswana economy is services, mostly tourism. That’s not unimportant. It’s not just a diamond mine with a lot of useless Africans on it. More important, it has avoided the violence common in Africa. That means those traditional farmers are reasonably happy with the arrangement.

      • > 45% of Botswana economy is services, mostly tourism.

        Here’s a chart: http://focusafrica.gov.in/Sector_Profile_Botswana.html

        40% of GDP is mining
        16% public sector
        11% financing (auxiliary to mining)
        12% trade, hotels and restaurants (not precisely tourism – whole Botswanian tourists sector employs 26k out of 2.3 mil people – but mostly for expats maintaining mining operations)
        4% transport (in a heavily rural country that means exports)
        4.6% construction (again, no cities => infrastructure for mining)
        4% manufacturing (rural country => basic tools + low-level mining equipment)
        3% electricity and water (they import the rest)
        2.1% agriculture
        3.8% “other services”

        Remove the mines, and GDP will drop to 1/10th of the current. The price for doing business is an over-inflated public sector.

        I’d say, the critical lesson of European colonialism (for Europeans) was: never openly put a racial minority in an official position of power over a racial majority. People (well, at least Africans and Asians) vote their skin over their future well-being. And even if they don’t it’s easy to exploit by an external force (i.e. Soviets and Americans vs British and French). You just can’t defend against the populist onslaught of anti-racism.

        I see Botswana as “lesson learned”. They put “their kind” on top – but all those people are educated in Britain. That’s why there was a rush to provide top education for the 3rd world leaders’ kids from the 1980s – it’s a part of ongoing low-profile re-colonisation of Africa and Asia by Europeans and Americans.

        • Whoops. I was looking at the wrong thing. Tourism is 12% of GDP. Even so, by the standards of Africa, Botswana is a paradise. I agree with your point about the role of De Beers too. The real lesson, I think, is that one ethnicity is ~85% of the population. The minority groups are also on their own lands. It turns out that even in Africa, diversity plus proximity equals violence.

          • Agreed. Ethnic homogeneity might be the thing. Especially in a situation where:
            1) the population is extremely poor;
            2) there’s a source of wealth not related to labour – i.e. concessions to foreigners to extract resources;
            3) tribal mindset is prevalent.

            If this indeed the case, the worst part of colonialism would be random borders then.

            Africa never had an era of European nationalism to straight the borders out in a series of wars. With current borders being de-facto guaranteed by “international community”, the only “tools” they have are ethnical cleansings and mass immigration fueled by constant state-approved terrorism.

          • That and the way in which the proceeds are dispensed to the chiefs. Botswana got lucky, in a way. The first contact between the Tswana and Europeans was a result of the Zulu invasions. The Europeans sent guns and missionaries. The resulting tribal arrangements in Botswana made for a more peaceful administration by the British. It also helped that the Brits were seen as the better choice over the South Africans.

    • 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 countries around them. Those guys ran the country efficiently & honestly & spent decades selecting & training the next generation of locals to take over.
      All together, Bot had a pretty unique & fortuitous combination of circumstances that makes it an unlikely model for other African nations.

      • 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?

  9. 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!

      • I have a book written by him. The Theology of Promise. It was as painful to read as the title implicates. Full of liberation theology. Every chapter ends with suggested discussions about achieving social justice, etc. He was a bishop in the United Methodist Church, which was one of the more active members of the World Council of Churches (WCC). When the army found terrorist encampments, they invariably found supplies marked with WCC addresses. Mugabe had him imprisoned for homosexuality, sort of like Hitler getting rid of Ernst Rohm.

  10. 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.

      • 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.

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

    • Foreign aid to Africa has been a disaster for Africans, but it was never intended to help them. The NGO rackets are just a colossal grift. They exist to remunerate the less ambitious and intelligent off-spring of the upper middle-class whites in Western countries.

      • Many years back iirc Mugabe’s son and the son of the former sec general of UN (ol’ whatsisname– Kofi Annan)got $200 million to upgrade the airport in Harare. Turns out only about half that was spent on the airport/aerodrome. Marcos-like efficiency. Word is Mugabe owns two hotels in Switzerland. Probably has money elsewhere, too.

        Giving aid to Africa isn’t simply a waste. It’s a crime.

        • > Giving aid to Africa isn’t simply a waste. It’s a crime.

          Another option might be: it’s a bribe to a person, who runs the country (and hence distributes the aid). Totalitarianism is better than an eternal civil war, and a dictator on your payroll is much better than a dictator that hates you (i.e. Sadam or Kim).

          But if it’d be a real-deal bribe, it’d be illegal and will eventually cause troubles. Furthermore, it’s impossible to organise within a Western bureaucracy as such.

          “Aid”, on the other hand, is 100% legal. It also inflates your “humanitarian credentials” as a bonus.

          When it’s not a state-to-state transfer, but an “international activity to relieve the pain” on the ground, it’s still the same – you allow the dictator to steal more without raising the dissent levels to a dangerous threshold of a national uprising.

          States are very rational. African humanitarian aid is a Realpolitik at its finest.

          • Sergey;
            You’re over target for sure. Bribery of client state elites is an ancient policy expedient. It is particularly useful if you need a geo-strategic buffer or simple access to resources and the potential wealth to be extracted by conquest isn’t worth the costs of occupation and administration. Works well so long as you play the clients off against each other and they can’t get at you or fear to do so.

            But the danger is the softer next gen. elite successors may forget what the point of the exercise was and start believing the BS rationalizations. Such is our situation now re. Africa. We should model our policy on that of the French, who seem to be much more clear-headed. The right answer for those who call them cynics should be, “This is Africa, what’s your point_?”

          • Realpolitik is a crime.
            Why should taxpayers subsidise profits?
            Those profits enable more looting at home.
            Let the moneymakers pay for their own damn mercenaries.

      • Z- I live in a Latte town surrounded by folks who believe that the greatest thing that their kids can do is go work for some kind of NGO working in the third world. (Is there any other kind?)
        While I agree with you that these organizations are confidence games, most of the sincere snowflakes who work for them are not grifters- they’re deluded and ignorant. I’m sure there ARE com men in these organizations, but the average liberal arts grad who is going forth to do good is not.

        • Gand;
          I’d venture to say that the snowflake creators are actually their great or simply grandparents. More than one trustafarian descendant labors under a stipulation in Greatest Gen. grandad’s trust that they have to have a job. Elite Boomer first gen parents gave them a soft and unfocused upbringing preparing them to be ornaments to their expected utopia. It hasn’t arrived. So, what to do_?

          So rich, elite Boomer con artists arranged for the diversion of tax monies into the Prog parallel economy of interlocking NGO’s during the Clinton I years with the explicit understanding that Geoffrey or Muffy got a job therein. Problem solved_!

          It is possible that some good would result if Geoffrey and Muffy’s progeny actually did go to Africa to implement progressivism. Some would have their eyes opened to cultural reality in short order.

          All it took for me to be cured of Liberal Arts inculcated do-goodism was a 30 day TDY to Panama in the early ’70s. And Latin America was by far better off than Africa, then and now. But then I was (sadly_? – not sure) not a trustafarian.

    • 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 world and survive on their own.

      The same rule that applies to individuals – should apply to entire societies – or races. The population of Africa should be at whatever the people of AFRICA can support thru their own efforts. If the West sending them food aid on a constant basis supports a massive increase in population – then stop doing that and solve the issue.

        • 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 lightly or some such thing?

Comments are closed.