After forcibly seizing the land and property of white farmers, the south African government’s economy has proceeded to deteriorate at an unprecedented speed. Fifteen years ago, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe issued legislation that forcibly removed white farmers from their respective properties, handing the land to black farmers. However, due to the inexperience of the black populace who received the land, many were unable to grow decent crops, and the farms’ overall productivity declined sharply.
“The problem now is that we have the land, but they have the experience,” said Mutinhiri, a black landowner.
Over this past weekend, analysts have described a government policy that would provide the existing 400 white farmers in Zimbabwe with five-year leases, and their black counterparts with 99-year bankable leases. Additionally, under this policy, Minister of Lands Douglas Mombeshora has stated that “all partnerships with whites, should black farmers consider them, must be approved by his ministry.”
During the mass eviction, over 4,000 farmers were removed from their farms, and many critics have correlated the decrease in Zimbabwe’s agricultural production. Between 2000 and 2016, when white farmland was taken and given to the indigenous black population, Zimbabwe’s annual wheat production fell from 250,000 tons to 60,000 tons, maize production was reduced from two million tons to 500,000 tons, and the total amount of cattle slaughtered for beef fell from 605,000 to 244,000. Coffee also, once a “prized export commodity,” came to a virtual halt after white-owned coffee farms were seized in 2000, and has never recovered. Ultimately, this means that Zimbabwe’s agricultural production is currently at less than a third than it had been when whites were permitted to own and work Zimbabwean farmland.
This has turned Zimbabwe into an enormous net importer of food products. According to Voa News, In 2000, Zimbabwe produced 2.1 million tons of corn. Thirteen years later, the country produced 800,000 tons. In 2013, faced with a whopping 2.2 million citizens (approx. 15% of the population) enduring intense hunger due to national food shortage, Zimbabwe began to rely on massive amounts of food imports, including 150,000 tons of corn from surrounding south African countries. This puts an enormous economic drain on the Zimbabwean government, as the country cannot sustain itself agriculturally without the experience and skill evident in its white farming minority.
Because of the national crisis outlined above, Mombeshora tasked provincial leaders to “come up with names of white farmers they wanted to remain on their farm” back in 2015. However, the damage that had been inflicted on the farmland and national economy is practically irreversible, and the financial state of Zimbabwe is in a constant downward spiral towards statewide chaos.
Despite the violently racist propaganda espoused by the Zimbabwean government, including the forcible removal of farmers from their property exclusively because of their skin color, it is evident that Zimbabwe’s economy relies predominately on the work ethic of its white minority. Will Zimbabweans swallow their egotistical ethno-centrism in favor of saving their country? Or will the dictatorial economic mismanagement of President Mugabe inevitably doom the Zimbabwean people to an identity of impoverishment and agrictulral