Land reform: Will Zimbabwe’s economic downfall be repeated in South Africa?

On a dusty road in eastern Zimbabwe, Rob Smart (70) can barely get out of his van as dozens of friends and farm workers run to welcome the white farmer back to his land. He and his son Darryn had been evicted from their property six months ago, land which was then given to a top cleric with ties to the former dictator Robert Mugabe. Smart is one of thousands of white Zimbabwean farmers who were expropriated without reimbursement since Mugabe’s “fast-track” land reform was implemented in 2000. The annnouncement by new president Emmerson Mnangagwa that landowners would be given back their property meant he could return home.

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  • simus1

    Stolen from whites land “given back” until it is ripe for friends of the dictatorial government to re-loot it once more. The curse of Africa is tribe based communal land ownership and no rule of law.

  • Ed

    Let’s do this the easy way. Can someone point to any black organization that isn’t fucked?

  • Hard Little Machine

    I really wish people would shut up about Mugabe’s land thefts as if he was giving land to black farmers as compensation. This was never the intention. This was theft to pay off criminal gangs and army officers who wanted land for lands sake

  • V10_Rob

    I can appreciate wanting to go back to land your family has worked for decades, but if he’s not laying contingency plans for the next Blame Whitey law I have no sympathy for him.

  • Hard Little Machine

    One of the crops ideally suited for Zimbabwe climate and soil is tobacco. Moreover tobacco is very labor intensive and highly resistant to wide scale use of machinery and automation, AND it has the potential to be the most profitable per acre of land. This is why tobacco was/is such a big cash crop down here in the southern US. It’s why there are sharecroppers because it is the only cash crop that can be profitable on a very small plot of land where the farmer has no capital.

    Zimbabwe for decades grew tobacco but it fell out of use when the white farmers were kicked out because its price is extremely sensitive to subtle differences in leaf quality. The slightest marring in the leaf and the slightest mistake in the curing process changes the price from profitable to unprofitable. Without that expertise and without the care it takes to harvest properly, the farms become completely useless.

    Which is all very ironic for the liberals and progressives who are clamoring for land reform back to profitability.

    • Brett_McS

      Interesting. “Without the care it takes…”. We are currently getting bogies built in South Africa (for TransNet Rail in SA) and the quality problems on the local product – none on the ones we built – are all about lack of care during assembly. It seems that they just go through the motions.

      On the other hand, Toyota and BMW have plants there, and I presume (at least in the case of Toyota) that quality is kept up to standard. So it may not be hopeless.

      A part of the problem is that in many operations the managers are promoted through contacts rather than ability.,

      • Watchman

        Like China, really. When they are held to standards: Western standards, they can produce excellent work, when they are held to traditional standards you then understand why Western Civilization rose to dominance.

        • Brett_McS

          Exactly. It has been hammered into the Chinese (by the Germans – much Chinese railway stuff is based on (East) German designs) that bogies are “safety critical” and must be built to spec. And they do. Excellent quality. But the carriages themselves (sitting on top of the bogies) are shite.

      • Dingo

        When I was in Amanzimtoti (Toyota still has a massive plant there)years ago, I was told that the Japanese said that they will close the plants if the governments insisted on their B.E.E and A.A bullshit.

        • Brett_McS

          Makes sense. I thought it would have to be something like that. The Chinese (supplying electric locos while we were supplying diesels) got the South Africans to build a couple of their bogies, looked at the result and said “you aren’t building any more”. We should have done the same.

  • Watchman

    “Will Zimbabwe’s Economic Downfall Be Repeated In South Africa?”
    Answer: Yes

  • Watchman

    “[T]aking land and giving it to the disadvantaged without compensation to the owners … could trigger a banking crisis, setting off a spiral of hyperinflation with disastrous consequences for the whole economy.”
    Then the millions of South Africans previously sustained by a working economy but now living in a corrupt, bankrupt, failed state that can’t even feed itself due to the hyperinflation will start the trek northward to Europe in the hope they can benefit off the welfare states there.

  • Dingo

    95 % of all farms given to black farmers by the South Africa government has failed dismally. They are handed farms in pristine condition, within a small period of time the fields are over grown , animals starve to the extent that the SPCA has to get involved. More money gets pumped in because they lack skills and then the cycle continuous .
    In Africa blacks have always been subsistence farmers, they are not able to farm commercially successfully , but to say that is racist.

    In other words the west be warned, the old african begging bowl is going to come out soon.

    A chapter in Dr Phillip du Toits book, The great South African Land Scandal.
    Chapter 3: Vryheid, KZN

    In the context of South African history, land and its possession gave rise to the ebb and flow of power, struggle and victory. But today’s battle is about food, its production and the ultimate survival of 45 million South African people. These people depend on South Africa’s commercial farmers for their daily bread. We are talking about an assault on South African agriculture, where the number of commercial farmers has decreased from 70,000 to less than 35,000 over the past thirty years. We are talking about future famine in South Africa if this assault on agricultural stability is not stopped in its tracks.

  • DMB
  • DMB

    The caption of this video should be “oh thank God for the return of the white farmer now we will be able to eat again!”

    https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/945260599054819328

  • Steve Brown

    I grew up in Central Africa. I lived on a farm. The Africans knew that without my Dad and I running the farm they would have nothing. In return we knew that without the Africans we would not be able to run the farm.
    We were completely inter-dependent and we knew it. The Zambian government ‘nationalised’ my Dad’s farm. Within 6 months it was completely derelict, it produced nothing and the 20+ farm labourers we had were evicted from the homes we built for them.