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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

 

Zimbabwe - Recipe for disaster

Zimbabwe is currently in an economic crisis. According to the CIA World Factbook, inflation in the private sector rages well above 100,000%. The country is suffering from a -6% growth rate, 80% unemployment, and 68% of the population is below the poverty line. “Botswana built electric fences and South Africa has placed military along the border to stem the flow of thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing to find work and escape political persecution (CIA World Factbook).” How did Zimbabweans find themselves in this mess?

Robert Mugabe has been the president of Zimbabwe since it declared independence from Great Britain in 1980. Under his leadership, Mugabe has turned the country into the poster child for political and economic upheaval. Beginning in 2002, Mugabe forced thousands of white farmers off their land and gave the farms to his party leaders and cronies. Unfortunately, the new land lords were uneducated in farming. The resulting crop failures lead to severe food shortages. This seizure of land is only one example of the president’s property and human rights violations. Beyond this, Mugabe continues to print more money to pay off the national debt which only fans the flame of inflation. In spite of the economic turmoil, Mugabe has held his position of power through government-backed violence and rigged election.

In his book Power and Prosperity, Mancur Olson outlines his research on the conditions required for a nation to be prosperous. Among his major themes is the idea that economic prosperity is nearly impossible in the presence of corruption, government predation, and lack of private property rights. Clearly, Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe blatantly practices corruption, government-backed violence and predation, and disregards all private property rights. Is it any wonder that Zimbabwe is in such dire economic straits?

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