The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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The Killing Fields of Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe imitates Pol Pot.
by Roger Bate
6/18/2005 12:02:00 AM, Volume 010, Issue 39

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
AFTER WALKING SEVERAL MILES in search of work, Martin stops to catch his
breath. Sitting on a bench on the outskirts of Zimbabwe's second city, we
talk, and he tells me about the troop movement he recently witnessed. He
felt the vibrations of the approaching column before he saw it. Perhaps 20
Chinese-made armored troop carriers were heading for the center of Bulawayo,
with the aim of quelling unrest and destroying the homes and businesses of
those who voted against the ruling regime of President Robert Mugabe back in

Mugabe's thugs have become more visible in recent weeks, but they shy away
from any naked show of force, especially in daylight. This convoy was
traveling under a pathetically transparent disguise. According to
independent reports confirmed by Martin, the troop carriers were
masquerading as U.N. peacekeepers, with 'UN' letters on the doors of their
trucks. But the soldiers carrying heavy weapons in the back were wearing
Zimbabwean army uniforms, and they were dispatched to enforce Mugabe's new
policy of pushing urban slum-dwellers back to the rural parts from which
they come.

Mugabe has lately been looking East for trade and financial support, but
also for pointers on oppressing his people, as he follows the lead of Pol
Pot's Khmer Rouge, which gutted towns to make for a more pliant populace.
After Mugabe handed over white-owned farms to his cronies who didn't know
how to farm, a million jobs were lost and the workers and their families
migrated to cities and towns. There ...

Sorry, the rest of this article is available only to subscribers.
[I will try to get hold of the rest of it.]
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NGOs in Zimbabwe Coordinate Efforts to Relieve Displaced

17 June 2005

Non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe have started delivering relief to
the displaced after securing permission from the government to do so. Jonah
Mudewe, executive director of the National Association of Nongovernmental
Organizations, told Studio Seven that a coordination center is being set up
to manage the assistance effort.

NGOs received the go-ahead to provide relief from Housing Minister Ignatius
Chombo late this week. It was agreed that the government would establish an
emergency assistance committee to liaise with local NGOs and the
international humanitarian organizations involved. This committee had not
yet been set up as of Friday, but Mr Mudewe told Studio 7 reporter Patience
Rusere that NGOs will work with state welfare services to determine critical
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Opposition Sees Divide-and-Rule Strategy by Harare
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
17 June 2005

As Zimbabweans and the outside world assess the impact of Operation
Murambatsvina, one question that remains to be answered is exactly why the
state decided to turn the country upside down. Studio 7 has spoken with a
number of figures in the government and ruling party who maintain that urban
planning and public health motivated such extreme measures. But critics see
less altruistic motives at work, charging that Operation Murambatsvina was
intended to traumatize and demoralize members of the largely urban-based
opposition, and drive its most vulnerable members into rural isolation the
better to control them.

Though the operation has affected much of the country, the poor have hurt
most. Some say the government targeted the poor as the most vulnerable
segment of its opposition. They point to the mass stay-away earlier this
month, maintaining that it was ineffective because the crackdown did not
touch the middle class directly. Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye interviewed a
number of observers and political activists on this point, starting with
information officer Rutendo Hadebe of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. Ms.
Hadebe, expressing her personal opinion, contended that the government from
the start was employing a divide-and-rule strategy.
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Fuel Hoarded for Resale On Black Market Recovered

The Herald (Harare)

June 17, 2005
Posted to the web June 17, 2005


LAW enforcement agents have recovered over 13 957 litres of petrol and 8 271
litres of diesel that were being hoarded for resale on the black market by
some filling stations in the Midlands Province.

At least 8 957 litres of petrol and 8 271 litres of diesel were recovered
this week at a filling station (name supplied) in Shurugwi.

This comes a few days after the interception of more than 2 000 litres of
diesel worth $7,46 million near Mutoko, which was in transit to Malawi.

The recovery was viewed as a tip of the iceberg as underhand dealings in
fuel were reported to be rampant at most filling stations in Harare and
along major routes to Zimbabwe's border towns.

In Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and other neighbouring countries, the fuel is
allegedly resold in foreign currency.

Several people have been arrested in connection with illegal fuel deals.

In Shurugwi, some motorists had spent several nights at the filling station
waiting to buy fuel which they knew had been delivered.

However, the motorists were told that they could not purchase the fuel
because the pumps were not in good working order.

Upon inspection, the pumps were, however, found to be in proper working
order and the attendant at the filling station, told authorities that he had
withheld the supplies at the instruction of his manager.

The fuel was only issued after the owner, (name supplied) was told that the
pumps were in proper working order contrary to what she had been told by her

However, the employees said most of the fuel was reserved for their
employer's fleet in Kwekwe and her farm.

At Donga township, the filling station was found to be hoarding 5 000 litres
of petrol almost five days after receiving the supplies.

The fuel attendant at the filling station claimed that he could not serve
fuel as he had no keys and that he was under instruction from the owner, a
Bulawayo-based businessman to sell only 1 000 litres. The rest of the
supplies, he said, were supposed to be taken to Bulawayo for re-sale on the
black market and for use by the owner's fleet of commuter omnibuses.

Two young men were also arrested for selling fuel on the black market.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has made available US$18,5 million to
Noczim for the procurement of fuel.

Deliveries to most filling stations in the country have considerably reduced
the impact of the shortages although transport was still a problem.
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Rocky Mountain News
Click here to view a larger image.

Getrude Mbiri, almost in tears, sits among the rubble of her demolished house in Harare, Zimbabwe, on June 10. Zimbabwean police say they have razed more than 21,000 shacks and other structures and arrested 32,435 people in what President Robert Mugabe calls an urban cleanup campaign. Critics at home and abroad have decried it as an assault on the poor.

Kopel: Tragedy in Africa gets scant notice

Denver dailies, like others around U.S., find little room to cover continent's woes

June 18, 2005

pictureSpeaking at Kent Denver School last Saturday, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright bemoaned what she saw as lack of American support for sub-Saharan black Africa (The Denver Post, June 12). The same criticism might be leveled at the media, for its neglect of African events. A June 14 commentary headline in The Christian Science Monitor asked, "In Congo, 1,000 die per day: Why isn't it a media story?"

The Monitor noted that absence of reader interest is the standard explanation. After all, newspapers have a finite amount of space for foreign news. If readers care more about elections or government intrigue in, say, the United Kingdom or Israel than they do about similar events in Africa, it is reasonable for newspapers to give readers what they want.

Yet when genocide is taking place, newspapers have a duty to force the issue into the consciousness of their readers. In the new book Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper, journalism professor Laurel Leff explains how The New York Times failed to alert Americans to the Holocaust during World War II.

As she summarized in an article for History News Network (, the Times "deliberately de-emphasized the Holocaust news, reporting it in isolated, inside stories . . . The Times' judgment that the murder of millions of Jews was a relatively unimportant story also reverberated among other journalists trying to assess the news . . ."

Leff explains that the Times was owned by a Jewish family that was concerned about appearing to engage in special pleading for Jews. Also, many American journalists were justifiably wary about falling for a new version of the fake atrocity stories about Germany that the British used to dupe the U.S. into entering World War I.

Even so, it is impossible to deny that one of the reasons the postwar promise of "Never again" has again and again proved impotent against genocide is the failure of the American press to push genocide stories to the front page.

Both Denver papers included brief items about the Ethiopian government killing about two dozen protesters in the capital city of Addis Ababa recently (June 9-10). But a Denver newspaper reader would know nothing about the government's genocide against the Anuak people of southwestern Ethiopia, which has been going on since late 2003.

In the Sudan, the ruling Arab tyranny has perpetrated genocide first against the black Christians and animists of the south, and now against the black Muslims in the west. Although Albright told The Washington Post in a May 29, 2000, article, "The human rights situation in Sudan is not marketable to the American people," the main reason that American media has at least risen to the level of mediocrity are the determined efforts of Christian and other human rights activists who put Sudan on the congressional agenda.

Meanwhile, the Web site StrategyPage reported on June 3 that "Zimbabwe is about ready to explode in a nightmare \[of] mass murder." StrategyPage explained that Zimbabwe is suffering a famine as a result of the Robert Mugabe dictatorship's destruction of the nation's agriculture. People in the cities have been surviving only by buying food on the black market, which the dictatorship has destroyed in the last month by bulldozing huge urban areas, sending refugees into the countryside. The StrategyPage report concluded: "The government seems determined to starve its enemies to death. . . . This story will only get reported after the dead are buried."

In the last month, the Post has covered Zimbabwe with a Washington Post article on food aid (June 2), while the Rocky Mountain News offered a five-paragraph editorial (June 3) and a two-paragraph news item (June 15). Better than nothing, but hardly adequate considering the magnitude of the crisis - especially since none of the articles get to the point about Mugabe using starvation as an tool of state policy.

And in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Deliberate genocide is just one cause of the immense civilian death toll resulting from a multiparty civil war, reports Survivors' Rights International. The Post has printed nothing on the subject in the last month. The News has run a few short items, plus an excellent Associated Press story (June 13).

It's difficult for journalists to report the atrocities taking place in these African hellholes, since the perpetrators have no more respect for freedom of the press or a journalist's right to life than they do for the lives of the victims.

Yet the intrepid New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof succeeds anyway. He recently reported from a refugee camp in Darfur, Sudan. Before that, in March, he traveled secretly in Zimbabwe and found conditions there so awful that the people longed for the days of rule by the white racist Ian Smith government - which, at least, never tried to starve them to death.

Determined readers can find African genocide news if they look hard enough - at the sources compiled by the African Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania, or at the Web site of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. But news about genocide ought to be as easy to find - indeed, as inescapable - as news about Michael Jackson or the Denver Broncos.

Dave Kopel is research director at the Independence Institute, an attorney and author of 10 books. He can be reached at .

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Stands' Beneficiaries Named

The Herald (Harare)

June 17, 2005
Posted to the web June 17, 2005


GOVERNMENT has named 4 470 beneficiaries out of a total of 20 477 who will
be allocated residential stands at the Whitecliff Housing Project in Harare
as Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order extended into Chitungwiza and
Epworth yesterday.

Secretary for Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development Mr
Partson Mbiriri said names of other beneficiaries would be released in due

Initial beneficiaries are expected to pay an administrative fee of $500 000
upon accepting the offer.

The Government - in conjunction with the Harare City Council - Mr Mbiriri
said, would construct the infrastructure on a cost-recovery basis and
beneficiaries would be advised of the expenses.

Beneficiaries are prohibited from occupying their stands until basic
services are put in place and until they are issued with a certificate of
occupation by the local authority.

Building brigades, he said, would be established on site to assist people in
building houses they would have chosen from the model units on site.

"The local authority shall establish an administration office on site, to
manage the beneficiaries and approve the housing plans," he said.

Mr Mbiriri said the offer was strictly for those who neither had houses in
Harare nor surrounding towns and who were on the council's housing waiting

"A false declaration by any beneficiary to the effect that one does not own
a house will lead to immediate withdrawal of the offer."

Apart from Whitecliff, other projects have been earmarked for Oda, Glaudina
and Caledonia farms.

In Chitungwiza, residents pulled down their illegal structures despite
attempts by certain sections of the community to mobilise resistance against
the ongoing clean-up.

Illegal tuck shops, street hair salons and cottages were knocked down.

Police also brought down close to 2 000 houses illegally constructed by
Green Valley Housing Co-operative on Belapezi Farm in Epworth.

Another 60 houses built by Chako Ndechako Housing Co-operative in
Chitungwiza were also demolished.

Distraught Epworth residents helplessly watched their illegal structures
being razed to the ground as they pondered their next move.

Schoolchildren and other adults religiously followed the bulldozers
throughout the demolition exercise.

Judging by the huge presence of children of school-going age milling around
the demolition sites, one could easily conclude that most children in
Epworth did not attend school.

Affected families confirmed having settled in the area illegally and they
recounted sad stories of homelessness and destitution.

Mrs Nyarai Mahata said she was taking her belongings to Nyanga where she
intended to stay with a brother.

She said she had been aware since 2000 when she, together and other
settlers, occupied the farm that the settlement was illegal.

Chairman of Cain Nkala - one of the five branches of Green Valley Housing
Co-operative - Mr Mada Ncube said residents would seek recourse through
their Member of Parliament Cde Hubert Nyanhongo.

"We will gather the people to find the way forward. We will also implore our
MP for recourse," he said.

Mrs Tsitsi Bizare said the demolition had left her family of 10 stranded as
they did not have a home in the rural areas.

"Mr Bizare used to work at Kutsaga Research Centre and he is now retired.
This was the only home we knew and we have nowhere to go," she said.

Green Valley vice secretary Mrs Rosemary Zambuko said residents would not
resist the exercise as it helped restore sanity and orderliness in the
allocation of residential stands.

Several warnings had been issued against their continued occupation and
construction of houses on unplanned settlements. Other people on Belapezi
Farm last week said they were asked to pay protection fees of $20 000 by an
executive member of the cooperative only identified as Majaina.

At least $12 million was raised while another $25 million to facilitate
"registration" with Harare City Council was being expected.

Some residents in Chitungwiza were yesterday busy on rooftops removing
roofing and other building materials. Police gave warnings of demolitions on
Wednesday night.

Chitungwiza mayor Mr Misheck Shoko gave thumps up to the operation saying
all illegal structures should go. He dismissed as mischievous reports
circulating in Chitungwiza that in-fill properties and houses built under St
Marys Extension (Manyame Park) would be demolished. He said council
sanctioned the construction.

The mayor said council had recommended demlition of houses built by Zano
Remba Housing Co-operative in Unit L and at least 23 built by Ruvimbo
Housing Co-operative in Unit G.

Mr Shoko said Ruvimbo Housing Co-operative illegally allocated 23 housing
stands, which were meant for people who had paid money to council.

Ruvimbo Housing Co-operative, formed in the 1990s was initially allocated
176 stands although it had a membership of 171.

He said when the cooperative finished develoment of the 176 stands, it
should have ceased to exist. However, the cooperative encroached onto a
piece of council serviced land and allocated the stands.

Mr Shoko said there were areas in St Marys and Unit H, which were not
planned as way back as the 1960s but could not be demolished because the
land was bought for the beneficiaries by the South African government.

The two areas, which have no roads, sewer and toilets, relied on communal
water points.

"Funds should be sourced to provide basic services for these people and also
to regularise the setlement," he added.

Some families appealed for assistance to ferry their belongings to their
rural homes.

"We are not against the idea but we are saying the authorities should have
done it in a more friendly manner and relocated us to some ready-to-live
strutures," said Mr Diron Minyanga.
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Zim Capable of Feeding Herself

The Herald (Harare)

June 17, 2005
Posted to the web June 17, 2005

Nelson Chenga

WHILE addressing the Sixth Parliament of Zimbabwe last week, President
Robert Mugabe said:

"Given the increasing frequency of this disturbing phenomenon (drought),
there is now an ever-growing need to seriously move away from the current
over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture.

"Our collective and urgent focus should now be on effective efforts aimed at
exploiting our vast water reserves."

Zimbabwe has close to 70 medium to large-scale dams that were constructed
for purposes of irrigation.

More than three-quarters of the reservoirs were built after 1980.

Numerous smaller dams lie scattered across the Zimbabwean countryside, and
the water in all these dams, which can be easily accessed for irrigation
purposes is simply lost to evapo-transpiration and ground seepage.

Despite the chronic drought spells that have affected yields over the years,
Zimbabwe still has the capacity to feed herself, and the region if it
harnesses the water reserves for agricultural purposes.

Yet some farmers have squandered precious time, producing nothing on the
thousands of hectares of arable land they received during the land reform

It is ironic that a number of people who occupied land next to some
strategic water reservoirs; and who have done nothing to direct the water to
their fields are now at the forefront of blaming the Government for not
doing enough to support them.

A few resettled farmers have been "busy" ripping irrigation pipes and
selling them as scrap metal.

Others have used the dams for fishing while their crops wilted a stone's
throw away from the massive water reservoirs.

It is this group of "farmers" who give the other hard working farmers a bad

In a recent tour of farms in Mashonaland East Province, the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, lamented the fact that Zimbabwe had to
import food when it has the capacity to feed itself.

It is, however, hoped that farmers will heed President Mugabe's calls to
move from rain-fed cropping to irrigation due to the continued
unpredictability of the weather.

In 2003, after facing one of its worst drought spells, Masvingo Province
woke up one day to a sudden revelation that they can actually feed the whole
country in spite of the fact that Masvingo is a drought-prone area.

Masvingo Province unveiled a massive plan to irrigate some 112 000 hectares
of maize crop.

Lake Mutirikwi, Zimbabwe's largest internal reservoir which contains over
1,8 million cubic metres of water when full, would supply most of the water.

The province would produce more than three million tonnes of maize, more
than enough to feed the entire country. Zimbabwe requires just over two
million tonnes of maize for food every year.

But, as the President put it, more serious effort is required if Zimbabwe
wishes to be self-sufficient in terms of food.

The Masvingo plan, very noble as it may have been, appears to have been
half-heartedly implemented.

The same province also has Zimbabwe's fifth largest internal reservoir, the
303 million cubic metre Manyuchi Dam along Mwenezi River, which has,
however, been wasting away over the past 16 years while thousands of people
went hungry due to crop failure following successive poor rainfall seasons.

The dam, which was completed in 1989 and has been perennially at full
capacity since the 2000 Cyclone Eline-induced floods, has the potential to
irrigate the entire 311 000 hectares of Nuanetsi Ranch down stream.

In Manicaland Province, another huge internal dam, the Osborne Dam (the
third largest) has been lying idle ever since its completion in 1994.

If fully utilised, it can irrigate vast fields downstream in Mutasa and
Makoni districts to far-flung lands such as Zimunya and Bocha communal

But the lack of financial resources to build the canals, among other major
constraints, saw the dam lying idle year in year out.

Two other dams in Manicaland Province, Odzani and Small Bridge have also
been underutilised ever since the commissioning of the Pungwe pipeline that
now meets most of Mutare's water needs.

The pipeline was constructed in the late 1990s and commissioned in 1999
after Mutare's traditional two main water supply reservoirs (Odzani and
Small Bridge completely dried up during the 1991/92 drought.

From the RBZ's $5 trillion Agricultural Sector Revival Fund, $1 trillion
will be channelled towards the rehabilitation and bolstering of Zimbabwe's
irrigation network.

Thousands of farmers, many of whom were resettled under the fast-track
resettlement programme are set to benefit from the fund; from which they can
borrow funds at concessionary interest rates of between five and 20 percent.

The resettlement programme that saw over 350 000 new farmers receive land
under the A1 and A2 schemes is set to consolidate Zimbabwe's sovereignty.

In an effort to kick-start the agrarian reform programme, the Government, in
December 2001, distributed $15,5 billion worth of maize seed to more than
200 000 people resettled under the fast-track programme for free.

Last year, the Government, in its budget, set aside $580 billion for
agriculture, and also dispatched 6 000-extension workers in Masvingo
Province alone.

In 2001, the Government, also ploughed 16 000 ha of land at a cost of $400
million under the District Development Fund Tillage programme.

Back in 1999, the Grain Marketing Board initiated a $200 million input
credit scheme to benefit about 20 000 small holder farmers which was
expected to see farmers in this sector produce enough food requirements for
the country.

The Government, through the Cold Storage Company, has this year also
unveiled a $10 billion revolving fund to assist beef farmers to rebuild the
national herd that rapidly declined over the years due to successive seasons
of drought.

This year the RBZ also set up a $150 billion facility for the dairy industry
to enhance the capacity of milk production through restocking the dairy herd
and training new dairy farmers.

While the Government has done its best to support the agricultural sector;
it is disheartening to note that some lazy individuals who refuse to earn an
honest living detracted from the Government's efforts.

These indolent individuals have given detractors "ammunition" to launch
racist diatribes implying that only white farmers are capable of production.

"Middlemen are being allowed to distribute sugar and artificial shortages
are being created resulting in hoarding and subsequent trading at exorbitant
prices on the parallel market," said the RBZ Governor in his January-April
2005 monetary policy review.

But the culprits' days are numbered for Zimbabwe has set its sights on
rebuilding the economy as well as regain its regional breadbasket status.
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A Labour MP has uncovered more evidence of the horrors of life in Zimbabwe.
Hundreds of thousands of people are living outdoors after their homes were
bulldozed on the orders of dictator Robert Mugabe.

Kate Hoey videoed the destruction and is using the footage to urge Britain
to intervene.

She said: "It is the middle of winter in Zimbabwe and I saw families with
tiny children forced to sleep in the open.

"I saw the army and police ransack townships, demolishing homes.

"In their orgy of destruction they were even burning blankets and children's

"Millions of pounds-worth of investment in good housing, small factories and
machinery have been smashed."

Referring to the former dictator of Cambodia who killed millions of his own
people, she added: "It's like Pol Pot all over again."

She has already called on Tony Blair to withdraw South African President
Thabo Mbeki's invitation to attend the G8 summit.

She said his refusal to condemn human rights abuses in neighbouring Zimbabwe
made him an unsuitable guest.

Ms Hoey said: "Mbeki is complicit in these totalitarian actions by Mugabe.

"The British Government must not let him get away with hiding behind a
smokescreen of anti-colonialism."
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Spectator 11 June
The Leader
Subsidising tyrants

A bunch of ageing rockers belting out their old hits for the supposed
benefit of Africa's poor (not to mention the hope of reviving fading
careers) is such a tempting target for parody and scorn that it would be
easy to dismiss Bob Geldof's Live 8 concert on 2 July as a grotesque
irrelevance. But it would be wrong, not least because of the seriousness
with which the government appears to be taking the event. Seldom one to miss
out on the chance to associate himself with a wave of public emotion, and
eager to establish some sort of legacy now that his great project to take
Britain into the euro lies in ruins, the Prime Minister has expressed
support for the doubling of aid to Africa. So too has Gordon Brown, who has
formed the mathematically illiterate equation that doubling aid will somehow
halve poverty.
There isn't, it has to be said, an awful lot of substance in the two-page
manifesto of the Make Poverty History campaign, which the Live 8 concert has
been called to support. But let us at least do the campaign the justice of
analysing its demands, which fall into three slogans: 'Trade Justice', 'Drop
the Debt' and 'More and Better Aid'. We don't disagree that there is
something deeply rotten about the trade rules currently imposed upon African
nations; as we have complained in these pages before, the West suppresses
Third World farmers through import tariffs and by lavishing its own farmers
with subsidy to the tune of 190 billion a year. Yet Make Poverty History's
solution would worsen the situation: it wants African nations, too, to be
allowed to erect tariff barriers and create market-distorting subsidy
regimes of their own. This would ensure that the subsistence farmers so
beloved of geography text-book-writers are preserved as anthropological
specimens, yet it would deprive African nations of the opportunity to enrich
themselves by developing an agricultural industry responsive to Western
There is some merit in writing off the debts of African nations, at least in
cases where countries have emerged from dictatorships and have embarked upon
a fresh beginning; indeed billions of pounds worth of debts have already
been written off by the World Bank. But a generalised write-off of debt,
without demanding any reforms in return, would merely serve to kill off the
market for credit in Africa for good: what bank would ever lend to an
African nation again, knowing that in a few years' time it may very likely
be made to surrender its interest in the deal?
But nothing causes us so much dismay as the demand by Make Poverty History
for Western nations to double their budgets for African aid. There is, of
course, a proper place for aid, in famine and disaster relief. Indeed, Bob
Geldof's original Live Aid concert in 1985 was a worthwhile response to a
food crisis, even if those food shortages were partly man-made. Yet the
continual feeding of Africa with aid - 550 billion of it over the past 50
years - has merely promoted welfare dependency and bankrolled kleptocratic
and incompetent regimes. Africa isn't quite as devoid of money as many would
believe; it is often a question of crass priorities. In 2003 President
Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria spent $347 million on a 60,000-seater stadium
for the All-Africa Games - about the same as the country's annual education
budget and twice its health budget. Imagine Britain spending 240 billion on
the 2012 Olympics bid and you get the equivalent allocation of resources. Or
take Zimbabwe, whose once-strong economy has been ruined in the space of
five years through the ethnic-cleansing of white farmers. Does Bob Geldof
really imagine that the West could help the situation by showering Robert
Mugabe with aid and writing off his debts? There is no mention in Make
Poverty History's manifesto of the tinpot dictators who have laid waste to
sub-Saharan Africa, though it does find room to complain that African
nations are being forced to accept privatisation and deregulation of failing
public services as a condition of receiving aid. It is as if the West's
socialists, having lost the argument over state ownership of the means of
production at home, have instead identified Africa as a test-bed for their
It is a conceit of Bob Geldof's that somehow, through gut feeling, rock
stars can see things which boring and sober politicians cannot. It is, of
course, nonsense: Africa's problems have been debated exhaustively in the
West. Given the rabid charges of racism and neocolonialism often levelled
against the West when it attempts to influence African governments, there is
no easy way to encourage reform. But we might make a start by recognising
that Africa's main problem is not, as Make Poverty History appears to imply,
a chronic shortage of money. Quite the reverse; the continent is as blessed
as any other with natural resources. The problem lies in Africa's lack of
free institutions and functioning democracies, and in the absence of
talented individuals because, through fear of their livelihoods and in some
cases lives, they have fled over the past 30 years, taking their skills and
100 billion worth of wealth with them. Once that can sink in, sensible
debate over Africa's future can recommence.

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