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.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with