African nation's anti-white campaign is a smokescreen



Sixteen months ago, 4 million citizens of the southern African nation of Zimbabwe were in urgent need of food aid, but President Robert Mugabe showed little concern. Mugabe was more interested in tightening his corrupt dictatorial grip on that crumbling nation.
As a result of his malfeasance, the country is today suffering its worst economic crisis since it won independence from the British almost 30 years ago. Acute shortages of hard currency, food, gasoline, medicines and essential imports have put hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans at risk.
Objective analysis of the situation -- read that, non-governmental spin -- point the finger of blame at the disruptions to the agricultural economy when the Mugabe government seized thousands of white-owned commercial farms starting in 2000.
The once thriving farms are now barren because the experienced white farmers were replaced by inexperienced cronies of government officials who lacked the know-how and financial ability to keep the farms productive.
But rather than admit that his illegal confiscation policy was a mistake and that the food shortages are not the result of a conspiracy of western nations, Mugabe is proceeding with even more takeovers.
This week, Zimbabwe's national security minister told the remaining 400 white farmers -- there were 4,500 when the confiscation campaign began seven years ago -- that they risk imprisonment if they refuse to meet a deadline to leave their farms.
Economic sanctions
The United Nations, which had threatened economic sanctions in 2005, must intervene to prevent a humanitarian crisis that will claim hundreds of thousands of lives. The elderly, the infirm and children are at greatest risk of starvation.
The African Union must also pressure Zimbabwe's president to abandon his racist policies.
Last year, the U.S. State Department put the African country on a list of six nations where restrictions on rights were particularly severe. The others were China, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar and North Korea. But the Mugabe government has paid little attention to what the U.S. or other nations say.
In fact, the president has taken advantage of the high illiteracy rate in his country to weave a story that is neither factual nor credible. He has blamed Britain, the country's former colonial power, and other western nations, led by the United States, for the economy's collapse.
The continued confiscation of white-owned farms and the prospect of imprisonment of white farmers are an obvious smokescreen, but they are an effective distraction for the starving, poverty-ridden populace.
Prior to independence, Zimbabwe was one of the richest countries in Africa. It was known as the bread basket of the southern part of the continent. Today, it is forced to import its staple crop, corn. But its lack of hard currency make such purchases a challenge.
The world community must act quickly to guard against another humanitarian crisis in Africa.

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