A Warning To Canadians From Zimbabwe's Experience

Impunity sinking Zimbabwe into poverty, hunger

If we are to understand the future of agriculture in Zimbabwe we need to understand the past.
Ben Freeth
Why was Zimbabwe such a successful country agriculturally in the past? So what has happened to make it so spectacularly unsuccessful in recent years? What can we do about the future?
Zimbabwe’s past success
By 1975, the UN Agricultural Year Book ranked Zimbabwe second in the world for yields of maize, wheat, soya and groundnuts, and third for cotton. In a combined ranking of these crops, we were first in the world. Our tobacco was rated the best in the world in both yield and quality. Our beef was second to none in the markets of Europe.
There is not a single natural lake in Zimbabwe, and yet when you fly over Zimbabwe you see bodies of water everywhere. There are over 10 000 of them. Excluding South Africa, 80% of the African continent’s dams were built in this country — including the biggest man-made dam in the world at the time, Lake Kariba, constructed between 1955 and 1959.
What was it that made agriculture develop so fast and so successfully in Zimbabwe? It is very simple: property rights through title deeds — protected by the rule of law. If a farmer was not successful, the bank sold his farm to a farmer who was successful, and that farm developed further and became more productive.
Zimbabwe’s current situation
But where are we now? We are in disaster.
Yes, tobacco is moving back up to levels where it was 15 years ago, but at a huge expense to the environment with 300 000 hectares of trees being cut down to cure the crop each year, and if we had expanded as our main competitors have, we would be producing three times our present output.
Milk is down by 80% on what it was at peak production; beef is down by 80%; coffee is down by 90%; paprika is down by 95%; wheat is down by 95%; employment levels are at what they were half a century ago — when we had less than half the population.
The manufacturing sector production has fallen nearly 70%. The maize crop is a failure almost every year. In fact, there is not a year since 2001 when we have not needed food aid to feed the poor — most of those poor being “farmers” — farmers without property rights!
Our GDP, which was bigger than the GDPs of Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania and Zambia, has now halved and is smaller than all those countries. It is estimated to fall another 5% or so this year.
Reasons for agricultural decline 
As a country we have fallen into poverty. Why? What has changed to collapse all that was so spectacularly successful in the past? We all know the answer: the rule of law and property rights have been systematically destroyed through racist and violent policies in the agricultural sector by our government.
We have been left behind. From being second in the world in maize yields, our national average maize yield is now less than half a tonne a hectare. In the United States, the average yield is over nine tonnes per hectare — and they grow 39 million hectares. So we need over 18 hectares to produce the same amount of grain that an American farmer needs only one hectare for.
It is a tragedy. With Zimbabwe’s current abysmal national yields, we would need a land area the size of the continent of Australia to grow as much maize as the US does.
My view:

As a federal election draws near in October, Canadians would be wise to consider the experience of Zimbabwe since the 1980 coup of Marxist leader Robert Mugabe.

While Socialism and its parent belief system Marxism have a certain appeal to voters who are suffering from financial hardship, history has many examples to the destiny of countries that embrace this dark economic system.

The New Democratic Party in Canada has the same philosophical roots as Mugabe's ZANU-PF party in Zimbabwe.  While the Zimbabwe example is extreme, the consistency of socialist governments historical ability to destroy property rights and rule of law is amazing.

As Margaret Thatcher once quipped, "Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They [socialists] always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them."

Considering the heavy tax burden that Canadians already have, electing a Socialist NDP or NDP-Liberal alliance government would mean crushing taxes and rapidly diminishing foreign investment along with the jobs that go with it.