Robert Mugabe's policy of confiscating farmland from white farmers and handing it over to his political cronies and military backers has, over the past several years, effectively killed Zimbabwe's once-productive agricultural sector. Fields that once yielded bountiful harvests now lie fallow and untilled. In many cases, plots have simply been abandoned by new owners with no farming experience.
As a result, people who once lived in Zimbabwe's rural regions fled to its cities and industrial areas. That left Mugabe with a problem: Having destroyed the countryside, how could he get people to move back there and start farming again? His answer was elegant in its simplicity: Destroy the cities, too. The Telegraph reports:
President Robert Mugabe's onslaught against Zimbabwe's cities has escalated to claim new targets, with white-owned factories and family homes being demolished in a campaign that has left 200,000 people homeless.But Mugabe isn't just destroying private property. He's also crushing his political opposition:
Across the country, Mr Mugabe is destroying large areas of heaving townships and prosperous industrial areas alike.
The aim of this brutal campaign is, says the official media, to depopulate urban areas and force people back to the "rural home".
Virtually all the areas singled out for demolition voted for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the last elections. The MDC says that Mr Mugabe ordered the destruction as a deliberate reprisal. But the regime is also seeking to depopulate the cities, driving people into the countryside where the MDC is virtually non-existent and the ruling Zanu-PF Party dominates.The Guardian offers a sense of the impact Mugabe's wave of destruction is having on ordinary Zimbabweans:
Thousands of families have been made homeless and are sleeping in the open as winter sets in, taking night temperatures down to 4C (39F).The 81-year-old Mugabe, who is also moving to nationalize all land, is ensuring that he will have total and uncontested dominion over an impoverished hellhole. Brilliant.
"The police came in the morning and just started tearing down people's homes. Some were burned down, others were bulldozed," said a resident of Chinotimba township in Victoria Falls. "My sister's home was torn down, and so she has moved in with us."
...Police and army flattened nearly 1,000 homes in an area of the capital known as Hatcliffe Extension, according to Trudy Stevenson, MP for Harare North. "It looks like a bomb hit the area. The destruction is terrible."
(Found via Tim Blair, who sees parallels with Mao's Great Leap Forward.)
Perry de Havilland says Zimbabwe needs a revolution.