I worked as a young doctor in Zimbabwe, and still have friends there.

After the war of liberation, the country was full of hope; but as the aging dictator consolidated power, he started to destroy his enemies and impose a pure Marxism on that country. In the name of “land reform”, he threw out the white farmers and confiscated their land. Two problems: One, these large farms are the ones who grew surpluses to feed the city folk, and also to export to keep the economy floating. Two: Instead of distributing the land to the farmers/farmworkers and helping them to keep the land productive, instead he often gave the farms to his cronies, or to local thugs, who thought money grew on trees.

So when the periodic droughts arrived, no irrigated land for food, and a lot of people got hungry.

Then there is the HIV epidemic, partly from promiscuity but also from “local healers” who don’t strerilize their instruments.

Then there was the idea to “clean up the trash” by getting rid of squatters and grey market businesses. Alas, what this meant is going into suburbs and destroying buildings without giving the people an alternative. Nor were only “illegal” businesses destroyed: Sister Patricia’s HIV clinic was destroyed, as was a small local convent of some African sisters who I know. The displaced people were forced to go back into their villages or squat in makeshift towns.

And finally, as inflation soared, he printed more money…and guess what? More inflation.
One would think that the sufferings of Job would make the world weep. And indeed, NGO’s and the UN are trying to work to help in all these matters (with the government looking over their shoulder).

Now a new strike: Foot and Mouth disease.

Small-scale farmers have seen their livestock decimated by outbreaks of highly contagious FMD, a viral disease carried by wild buffalo, which does not affect humans but has devastating effects on animals with cloven hooves, such as cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and deer, as well as anthrax, a disease caused by the bacillus anthracis, which can also infect humans.

The government’s failure to address bovine diseases has reduced Zimbabwe’s national herd from 1.4 million head of cattle in 2000 to about 250,000 at present. 

This not only wrecks income, but for poor rural people, cattle are their bank accounts. You need money for school fees or for your wife’s illness? You sell a cow. You want to marry? Well, part of your payment will be in cows.
Sounds crazy? Well, not as crazy as putting your money into a bank when there is 1000percent inflation.

And oxen are used to plow the corn fields, so loss of oxen might mean a smaller crop.

The Reuters report I quoted above is found HERE:

Wikipedia article HERE


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician who lives in the rural Philippines with her husband, six dogs, three cats and a large extended family. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she sometimes posts about human rights problems in Zimbabwe on MugabeMakaipa Blog.

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