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June 5th, 2009
09:48 AM ET

Despite Mugabe’s clenched fist, hope comes naturally in Zimbabwe

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, left, and President Robert Mugabe have a power-sharing agreement.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, left, and President Robert Mugabe have a power-sharing agreement.

Will Cathcart
Charleston Mercury

The countryside north of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, is littered with abandoned agricultural equipment. Massive silos, which once held the grains that made Zimbabwe the “breadbasket of Africa” have been empty for years. Irrigation systems rust upon deserted farmland. Villagers drive massive John Deere tractors as if they were cars. On a wall is written in spray paint, “Wake up Zimbabwe.”

“The land is rich,” explains Dr. Allen Tucker, “that is probably the only positive thing to come out of all this mess. At least the land is rich in nutrients because it hasn’t been farmed.” Nine years ago in an attempt to capitalize politically on racial tensions in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe began a land “reform” plan, which redistributed thousands of farms from white Zimbabweans to black Zimbabweans. Liberation veterans and ZANU PF (Mugabe’s party) thugs — with no farming experience — violently forced white farmers off the farms that once made Zimbabwe the second most prosperous country in Africa.

Much of the land that is not farmed holds the wildlife that brings tourists with cameras or guns, but that business suffers under Mugabe. Wildlife seems a luxury to those who are starving and are not part of the income stream from tourists. It is an old story of conflict among priorities on this continent.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Africa • Zimbabwe
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Cherisa

    Excellent article! Progress is actually being made with Tsvangirai. I wonder what will come out of his visit to the US next week.

    June 5, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  2. Fiona

    Great story, beautiful country. I'll be keeping them in my prayers that a new day is coming for them.

    June 5, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  3. David Millard

    I lived in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe for 20 years. Jimmy Carter was responsible for bringing the two Terrorist Leaders: Mugabe & Nkomo back to the country in the Lancaster Talks. My question is: "Where is Jimmy Carter now with the country in RUINS?" He goes all over the world to do good, supposingly, but when is he going to go to Zimbabwe to restore it?"

    June 5, 2009 at 4:14 pm |