New orders issued by Zimbabwe’s leadership telling white farmers to suspend production of food while there is already a serious shortage in the country, threaten six million people with famine and prepare the path for a humanitarian catastrophe in what was once Africa’s bread-basket.
Ian Smith, the former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, who led the country to its Unilateral Declaration of Independence against Britain, has called the measures “madness” and declares that he intends to fight to the end. “There are millions of starving Zimbabweans who desperately need the food we produce. We have to stand up firmly and say in a loud, clear voice that we will absolutely not put up with this madness”.
On May 10th this year, the government of Zimbabwe issued the Section 8 decree, giving 2,900 white farmers orders to cease all farming activities within 45 days and a further 45 days to leave the country. One farmer, who has recently been forced off his farm, declared to British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph that “The real drama is not the 2,900 people. All told two million people are living on white farms and the government seems to expect them all to leave, too. They have nowhere to go and once those farms close, they have no jobs and no food”.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme has warned that the rural population of Zimbabwe is in great need of cereals. In the west of the country, 60% will run out of supplies within six months. With virtually all of the country’s main farms now forced to close, there will be no reserves to make up the short-fall.
While the international community remains largely silent on the issue, Zimbabwe’s neighbour to the south, South Africa, evidently considers that Harare’s policy is inadequate. President Thabo Mbeki is the only international leader to have told Robert Mugabe face-to-face that there are other solutions to help white farmers and emerging African farmers to collaborate more closely.
Mugabe has been described by senior international aid workers as “old and tired” (possibly a euphemism for senile and mad) and it is rumoured that the former secret police chief, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is the one who calls the shots in Harare.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru