5 September 2000
In this issue :
From The Star(SA), 5 Sptember
Tired Mugabe 'collapses' three times - report
Harare - President Robert Mugabe has been unwell and has collapsed three times during the last few weeks, an authoritative source in the Zimbabwean president's office disclosed. But others in Mugabe's office dismissed reports of his ill-health as "cheap beerhall talk". The source in Mugabe's office said Mugabe's doctors had advised him not to travel to New York for the United Nations Millennium Summit this week, but he insisted on going so he could personally fight against the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill, now under consideration in the United States Congress. The bill calls for sanctions against Mugabe's government because of its human rights violations. "The president (Mugabe) has been sick. It's mainly due to fatigue and exhaustion," an authoritative source said.
Mugabe is reported to have collapsed and been unconscious in his hotel room during a conference in Maputo over a week ago. He collapsed twice more while in Libya over the weekend, and was later taken to Paris for medical treatment en route to New York, where he arrived on Monday. Rumours about Mugabe's health have been circulating for some time in Zimbabwe, and the nation almost came to a standstill on Saturday after a rumour that he had had a stroke in Libya. The source in the presidency said, however, that the cause of Mugabe's collapses was not a stroke. Presidential spokesperson George Charamba dismissed all the reports as "cheap beerhall talk", insisting that Mugabe is "as fit as a fiddle".From The Economist, 2-8 September
Zimbabwe's non-farmers - Robert Mugabe's accelerated land-reform program will be a disaster if its primary motive is to reward party loyalists.
Wakefield Farm, Manicaland - It was a rollicking party. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, arrived in one of his helicopters. Cows were slaughtered, beer gushed, crowds danced and ululated, and television cameras recorded the joyful event for posterity. The occasion was the resettlement of 51 black families on Wakefield "A", a large commercial farm, bought by the government from willing sellers two years ago. The aim was to build a class of successful, independent black farmers in Zimbabwe. The government promised the new smallholders seeds, fertiliser and all the help necessary to get them started. It then forgot about them. The farmers, most of whom knew little or nothing of farming, got no advice, support or equipment. A local white commercial farmer, Andrew Dawson, stepped in. He offered to plough his new neighbours' fields with his tractor and supply them with fertiliser. When their crops were ready, he said, they could repay him, interest-free, in maize. Although his offer was taken up by 12 farmers, only one or two are likely to be able to repay the debt. Most of the 51 plots have produced little or no crop, and the land is now largely derelict.
Wild grasses have reclaimed what were once prime tobacco fields. Many of the resettlers have drifted away. This is the land-reform programme that Mr Mugabe is now seeking to accelerate. Everyone agrees that land reform is necessary in Zimbabwe. Commercial farmers continually suggest practical ways in which it might be carried out. Foreign donors offer to finance orderly reform. The farms that were redistributed in the early 1980s turned many peasants into successful smallholders. But, at that time, the beneficiaries were selected carefully and received material support. Now, they are chosen not for their farming skills but for their loyalty to the ruling party, ZANU-PF. Mr Mugabe's motives are political, not economic. Incomes have fallen by a third under his rule, and he feared that the voters would show their displeasure by rejecting ZANU at the parliamentary election in June. So he decided to inflame the land issue. In thunderous speeches, he urged his people to reclaim the soil that white colonialists stole from them a century ago, reminding them that whites, despite being less than 1% of the population, still own about 70% of the best farmland. He organised a series of "spontaneous" invasions of white-owned properties, selecting farmers who were known to support the opposition MDC. The 10,000-14,000 invaders - veterans of the country's wars and assorted bruisers - prevented the opposition from campaigning in much of the countryside. Paid and transported by the secret services, they moved from farm to farm, beating suspected MDC supporters, burning their huts and occasionally killing them.
After the election, Mr Mugabe wanted to reward his foot-soldiers and punish his enemies. On July 31st, the government announced that over 3,000 farms, up from a previous target of 804, would be seized without compensation and distributed among the landless. This represents more than half the country's commercial farmland. The government insisted that the farms selected would be largely idle, belonging to absentee landlords, or else adjacent to crowded communal land. The full list has not yet been released, but the 1,500 or so addresses published so far include many thriving exporters. Once again, farmers who actively support the MDC appear to have been singled out. The beneficiaries of land reform are supposed to be the needy. But Obert Mpofu, the governor of Matabeleland North, a province where the opposition won all seven seats in June, has openly admitted that only ZANU supporters will benefit. A few hundred handover ceremonies have taken place since the election, some of them consisting of war veterans picking bottle-tops out of a hat to decide who will receive which plot.
The government promises to provide the new farmers with infrastructure and support. Maybe it will, but its record suggests it will not. Mr Mugabe's stated aim is to resettle 500,000 families - about a sixth of the population - before the rains start in November. In other words, he hopes to achieve in two months more than he has in 20 years, and to do it without donor support and despite the government's near-bankruptcy. The scheme imperils the whole economy. Mr Dawson, for example, has heard that the government may soon seize his farm. If it does, his 300 black employees and their 1,500 dependants face destitution. All over the country multitudes of farmworkers are to be displaced to make way for smaller numbers of ZANU loyalists. Banks hesitate to lend to farmers whose collateral could be confiscated tomorrow. Newly-resettled farmers also lack secure title to their land, and have even less chance of raising capital to develop it. Output is shrinking, and with it the industries that supply, or buy from, farmers: fertiliser wholesalers, bakeries, tractor-repair shops and so on. Probably more than half of Zimbabwean industry depends on agriculture.
The country's nature reserves are threatened, too. Chunks of the Save Valley conservancy have been earmarked for resettlement, although the area is unsuitable for farming. An influx of veterans with a taste for game has depleted wildlife stocks and scared off tourists. To make snares, the poachers tear down the wire fences that keep wild animals away from cattle farms. This threatens beef exports: European Union rules bar mixing cattle with beasts that may have foot-and-mouth disease. The government devalued the Zimbabwe dollar by 24% in August, and promises further devaluation, hoping to boost exports and so raise sorely-needed hard currency. But shortages of imports, such as fuel, have yet to ease. Motorists queue for hours for petrol; housewives battle for paraffin for their stoves. The government's foreign debts go unpaid and its domestic ones are met by printing money. Cash machines in Harare spill out wads of notes with consecutive serial numbers. Hyperinflation looms. Clear thinkers within the ruling party have tried to warn Mr Mugabe of the consequences of his actions. He refuses to listen. The main hope seems to be that incompetence will slow the execution of his policies.
From The Daily News, 4 September
Msika's farm under-utilised
AS Vice-President Joseph Msika officially opened this year's Harare Agricultural Show at the Exhibition Park on Saturday, The Daily News visited his 80-hectare farm in the rich farming belt of Glendale in Chiweshe described as under-utilised by his workers and neighbouring farmers. Msika bought the farm in 1980 with a loan from the then Agricultural Finance Corporation, now Agribank. The farm is about 100 km outside Harare, and is visited by its owner at least once a month. He had been there a few minutes before The Daily News crew arrived on Saturday.
Msika is also chairman of the government's land acquisition committee. More than half of the vast farm is not fully utilised. It stands in sharp contrast with nearby properties where lush green foliage suggests thriving commercial farming. A farm manager at a commercial farm near Msika's, John Chituku, said: "Most of the land is arable but he is using it for grazing and that explains a lot to a farmer. The farm doesn't seem to be properly managed." Indeed, Msika does not have a qualified farm manager and does not even have a house to accommodate the manager. He started to build one but it did not rise beyond window level. The house now lies in ruins, submerged in tall grass, on a neglected part of the farm.
While his white neighbours have tried to provide decent housing for their staff, Msika has failed to adequately cater for his. The houses are in a sorry state and badly need refurbishment. The compound is filthy. The general state of the farm does not reflect ownership by one of the most influential and powerful people in a government engaged in a massive land redistribution programme. Workers at the farm said they grow tobacco, paprika, potatoes, maize and cotton, but mainly on a small scale. They said there are about 80 cattle on the farm, but complained that Msika did not provide decent houses for them. Msika employs about 25 families while his neighbours have an average of 150 families on their properties. James Sharai, from the nearby village, said they were not many workers at Msika's farm because the Vice-President did not produce much. Most of his labour was from the surrounding Chiweshe communal lands, his original home.
The Daily News saw vast tracts of virgin land at the farm. There was no activity, although neighbouring farmers were busy planting tobacco. The workers at Msika's farm said they would soon prepare the land for tobacco. Most implements are dilapidated and rusty. Workers said they sometimes have to borrow implements and diesel from neighbours. "He just tells us that he will do something about the housing problem but nothing is being done," said one of Msika's workers. "I am living in the tobacco barn together with the farm supervisor." Some of the workers said they regretted working for the Vice-President because he pays them less than what their colleagues at neighbouring farms earn. The workers alleged that they lived under poor conditions. They claimed that a few of them earned at least $2 000 a month, with the majority earning less than that a month.
A commercial farmer in the area said Msika was not practising the type of farming suited to the area. Most farms in the Glendale area were invaded by the war veterans but Msika's farm was spared. Another farmer said he understood that the war veterans wanted to invade Msika's farm but were warned against it. There are war veterans occupying a farm next to Msika's. The farmer said Msika bought the farm in 1980 through a loan provided by the former Agricultural Finance Corporation now operating as Agribank and of late has been finding it difficult to keep up with repayments. The Daily News just missed the Vice-President who had visited the farm earlier in the day. Msika could not be contacted for comment by yesterday evening. He reportedly visits the farm once a month. While officially opening the just ended Harare Agricultural Show, Msika urged farmers to fully utilise their land.
From The Daily News, 4 September
Chombo attacks MDC supporters
A Cabinet minister at the weekend launched an astonishing attack on the opposition MDC, saying its mostly urban supporters should "turn their tarred roads" into land because the Zanu PF government would not give them any. Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, was the second government official to declare in public the government would not include MDC supporters in its land redistribution programme. Obert Mpofu, the governor for Matabeleland North, defeated in his Bubi-Umguza constituency by an MDC candidate, stunned the country last month when he said MDC supporters would have to wait for their own party to come to power because they would not get any land from the Zanu PF government.
Chombo was speaking at Maungwa business centre in Gutu South at celebrations led by Shuvai Mahofa, the victorious Zanu PF MP for the constituency. Chombo said MDC supporters, most of them in the urban areas, should convert the tarred roads into land. "They were clamouring for change and now we are saying turn the tarred roads in the urban areas into land," he said. Chombo said the government would thwart any fresh farm invasions because it was convinced that MDC supporters were behind them. He said landless villagers had moved onto the farms before the June election and those doing so now were MDC supporters, not genuine land-hungry villagers. "We are saying 'No' to fresh invasions. We have discovered that those who are invading farms are MDC supporters and we are going to chase them away. Our genuine land-hungry people went into the farms before the election and they should remain there," said Chombo. He said Zanu PF survived near defeat in the election. "The country nearly went into the wrong hands. Our party nearly fell. We have to thank the war veterans for their role in the election period," he said.
From The Daily News, 4 September
MDC presses for ZBC coverage of Parliament
THE opposition MDC is pushing for a mandatory live radio and television transmission of all parliamentary sessions by the State-owned ZBC. David Coltart, the MDC shadow minister for justice and constitutional affairs, last week tabled a notice in Parliament to move a motion on the ZBC. He said it was desirable that parliamentary debates be seen and heard by as many Zimbabweans as possible so that they are kept accurately informed about issues facing the nation. He said: "It is common practice throughout the world that parliamentary debates are broadcast live by radio and television. No such coverage is presently given by the ZBC." Coltart said Parliament should resolve that the government and the ZBC be called upon to conduct, with immediate effect, live television and radio transmissions of all parliamentary proceedings, particularly the parliamentary Question Time set aside on Wednesday each week. The ZBC has only provided live coverage on special occasions such as the official opening of Parliament by President Mugabe, the presentation of the national budget and the state of the nation address, again by the President. Since the Fifth Parliament opened in July, ZBC news crews have turned up to cover parliamentary business only on two occasions. The Speaker of Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa recently threw out a ZBC news team after complaints by MPs that the state-funded network was filming "favoured" MPs.
September 4, 2000
Zimbabwean police officers are in trouble with the public, and are blaming the law for it.
The law allows the public to ask police officers for their official identity cards, and many of them do not have them because the machine, which prints the IDs, is broken down.
There is only one machine, which prints the cards in the country.
For weeks, offending members of the public have been able to get away with their offences, and sometimes even put police officers on the receiving end of mob justice, for failing to produce their official identity cards.
By law, every police officer is required to carry his or her official identity card while on duty, but newly graduated officers have been deployed without the IDs because spare parts for the machine cannot be procured due to lack of foreign currency.
More and more Zimbabweans are asking police officers, even those driving clearly marked official vehicles, to produce their IDs, and those unable to produce these are subjected to instant mob justice on suspicion they were mere criminals masquerading as police officers.
Watching the Rocks Grow-White guilt and black hypocrisy
FOR any vaguely sentient individual living in Zimbabwe, the matter and
question of racism must constitute a topic on which an opinion needs to
be formed, with emphasis on the 'needs'. Examples of racism from which
to develop such an opinion would appear, at first glance, to be
available in abundance. The problem with emotive examples is that they
are exactly that, emotive, and any form of in depth questioning tends to
get no further than the socio-political, ritualistic sloganeering and
reverse racism that is this country's legacy from, not Ian Smith, but
the swarms of knee-jerk pseudo-liberals that have infested Zimbabwe
A recent column by The Daily News' Bill Saidi on racism has raised a
number of points, and presented a perspective that requires some
A number of the more obscene examples of local racism have been
mentioned within this column, usually in the context of an argument
against destructive behaviour on the part of whites. However, one
example of the brutal reality of racism that has stayed with Voyager
across the years appears, initially, to be less emotionally violent
than, say, the image of a white man urinating in a black man's mouth in
the name of genetic superiority.
It was the description, from the person involved, of his first childhood
experience of racism.
A CHILD (black) was waiting on a railway station with his mother. This
would be about 45 years ago. The child, eyes wide and fascinated by the
bustle and sounds, awed by a previous sighting of the enormity of a
gigantic steam locomotive with its roaring, hissing exhibition of
apparent life, wandered up onto a platform, totally absorbed by this
alien environment. Suddenly, without any warning, the child was dealt a
stunning blow across the side of his head, a blow that literally sent
him reeling. "Get out the way you f****** kaffir, get off the platform
now!", screamed a white porter with a baggage trolley. The child ran
crying to his mother, and they both moved quickly away.
The memory that stayed with the child into adulthood was not just of the
blow, but of his frantic bewilderment, his frightened questioning of his
mother, that foundation around which his life revolved. "Why? What
happened, and why?", he innocently questioned his mother, who could not
answer, and the boy realised there were things in life that his mother
could not protect him from. So, a child scarred for life, which is one
thing, and a mother humiliated and terrorised in the most painful
circumstance possible for her, as she saw her child beaten and
terrified, yet could do nothing about it.
A painful episode in a man's life, and it is interesting to note that
this man today argues strongly against racism, rather than, say, leading
a marauding band of war vets onto a white farmer's land.
This story, then, reaches to the fundamentals of why civilised society
rejects the principle of racism in any manner or form.
But does this example, and all the other examples of racist violence,
constitute some form of indictment of the white race, a factual proof of
how despicable whites are, and, obviously the implicit flip side of the
coin, how despicable blacks are not?
WHILE those neurotic members of the white tribe whose main purpose and
indulgence in life is to find excuses to feel guilty about the colour of
their skins would leap at the opportunity to enjoy some breast-beating,
attention-grabbing, self-flagellation, the facts of the matter present a
somewhat different picture.
Voyager once used the example of a writers meeting to show the dangerous
folly of setting artificial standards for the short-term sake of
mouthing a slogan. A comment from Voyager about the 'fact' that Zimbabwe
had no history of the development of writing in any defined form, and
thus had not developed, for example, technology to any degree, was met
from the floor with a vehement claim that such a statement was 'racist'.
In other words, to say that a particular culture had not developed
writing, was to define that culture as inferior, according to the
dread-locked black man in the audience. This spokesman for black Africa,
not Voyager, was defining cultures without a history of writing skills
as inferior, which therefore applies to Zimbabwe. Whose, therefore, was
the racist perspective? And if brutality to men women and children,
ethnic cleansing, murder and the deliberate scrapping of human rights in
the name of greed for money and power; if systematic rape, and the
killing and mutilating of children, if all these parameters are going to
be applied to the whites of Africa as an assessment of their worthiness
as human beings, then so be it. However, black Africa must be prepared
to be judged by exactly the same standards, and on that set of
parameters, Black Africa is an ongoing horror story, unparalleled in
human history in terms of its consistency, and the whites of Africa are
the last best hope for any so-called African Renaissance.
WHICH brings us onto Mr Saidi's article on racism, which may be a racist
Saidi appears to be somewhat annoyed because a group of whites in South
Africa have put their perspective up on a Website, and "are insulting
blacks by apologising for everything they say they did for us in 90
years of colonialism. They cite education, health, the economy,
agriculture and industrialisation. They then suggest that, if they
could, they would take all these contributions back, and "leave them
(blacks) where we found them". Mr Saidi responds to this by giving a
somewhat potted account of his understanding of just how worthless a
group of people, whites have been historically-whilst carefully saying
that anti-white racism is as bad as anti-black, and comments that these
"insults (on the Website).......are particularly sickening and
Insults? Since when has putting an opinion opposing a prevailing and
hypocritical set of, in this case, anti-white slogans insulting? Are
these people suddenly Nazis because they feel there is a bit more to the
history of white Africans than is presently being put forward on a daily
Voyager would like get this straight; Whites have been and are being
insulted every single day on the basis of their so-called colonial
barbarity, by black Africans whose degree of ongoing barbarity across
most of non-Arabic Africa is consistently increasing on a daily basis.
WHITES are being pilloried, daily, because at the time of colonising
Africa they did not extend to the indigenous people, the spectrum of
social structures that today are called human rights, social structures
that were only just being developed within their own societies, for
their own ethnic grouping, yet somehow, according to Black Africa, these
principles should have been immediately applied.
'One Man One Vote', for example, when that had not even been properly
implemented in Europe and England. There should, apparently, have been
no exploitation of the uneducated African, at a time when uneducated
whites-the majority of people in England-where being flogged, sentenced
to life on a penal colony for stealing bread when starving, and sold as
'indentured' servants. And because these structures were not immediately
implemented for the poor little Africans, somehow whites have committed
some generationally constant and absolute sin. What hypocritical,
sloganeering nonsense. And, by the way, what was the human rights
situation in Africa before the colonists came? Or is that one of those
awkward questions that must be 'racist' if they are asked?
But let's ask it again in a different form, just for interest, and
consider slavery- that other good old reliable excuse for touting
self-pity as an excuse for failure. Here is a nice simple question: Who
was selling the bulk of the slaves to the slave traders? What colour
were they, what continent did they reside on? This is a topic that been
conveniently ignored in the mindless white-bashing rhetoric that has
come to pass for Black Africa's thought process. Britain demanded the
implementation of majority rule for Rhodesia, and then imposed harsh and
effective sanctions on Rhodesia because Smith would not acknowledge the
need for change. The change that was argued for, indeed insisted upon by
Britain, was for the benefit of the black population of this country,
obviously not-surely it is obvious to any honest observer-for the
benefit of a handful of whites that were totally out of step with their
Black Africa is drowning in hypocrisy.
ACROSS this continent pathetic losers are relying on the whining theme
of: "Oh! We had such a hard time when we were colonised. Give us some
money, please Baas, Oh Thank you, Ishe!", instead of doing what every
other successful society has done throughout history, and that is work
to build its own success.
For any Black African to indulge in masturbatory moral high-grounding on
the basis of 'colonial brutality' is pathetic hypocrisy.
Africa, now, today, after all the billions of dollars of aid money, and
the introduction, time and time again, from the whites, of the
principles of human rights and dignities, the very concepts that these
mewing parasites constantly bleat should have been present during the
colonial period, after all this principled and honest endeavour by
principled and honest whites, Africa is a cesspit of brutality and
barbarism. With all this postured moral finger-pointing at the whites,
what is the reality of Black Africa's immediate history, and what has
actually been achieved, in terms of the moral worthiness that these
talking heads claim as a foundation for moral outrage against the
ANSWERS to those questions may begin to be found with the limbless
infants of Sierra Leone, and any honest African can then move North and
East from there without running out of material in a lifetime, and all
this African history-reality-has been written in blood and terror
without the convenient benefit of resident colonials to blame for the
continually disgusting behaviour of blacks to blacks.
Before Mr Saidi or anyone else starts pointing moral fingers at the
whites of Africa, thus defining certain standards of worthiness, he
should look to the worthiness of his own ethnic grouping, as it stands
right now, not even with reference to the past, and see if he is
honestly able to cast the first or any stones.
L.A. Times.com Friday, August 25, 2000 By ROBIN WRIGHT, Times Staff
African Renaissance' Hailed by Clinton Now a Distant Memory
WASHINGTON--Forty years after the first wave of independence sparked
great hopes for the continent, Africa faces a bleaker future than at
any time in the past century, according to a recent U.S. intelligence
assessment, Clinton administration officials and experts on the region.
Just two years ago, during a six-nation tour of the continent,
President Clinton hailed what he called an "African renaissance." But
as he prepares for a quick trip to Nigeria and Tanzania this weekend,
the sub-Saharan region is backsliding on virtually every front.
"The number of simultaneous, multiple crises that the continent faces
right now is unprecedented," said Stephen Morrison, director of African
studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a
Washington think tank. "Africa is in worse condition than ever before.
And it's only going to get worse over the next generation."
The dire situation is outlined in a recent U.S. government assessment
called a National Intelligence Estimate. Its findings were echoed in
interviews with administration officials and other experts.
Politically, only eight of sub-Saharan Africa's 48 countries fully
embrace pluralism. And all eight are still hobbled by corruption, weak
leadership and chronic deterioration of basic education and health
The problem is not just one-party governments and autocratic regimes;
some states are imploding. "Even if you hold a free election in a
collapsed state and elect a Nelson Mandela, he'll be doomed to failure
if there's no government structure," said Pauline Baker, president of
the Fund for Peace, an independent research and advocacy group here.
"One man alone can't rule without institutions, many of which have
eroded since independence."
The limited good news is that two sub-Saharan giants--Nigeria and South
Africa?? - are gradually making the transition to democracy, U.S.
officials say. To varying degrees, so are Senegal, Mali, Malawi,
Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia, although none is a strong enough
regional power to have much impact.
But two key states with long records of Western-oriented policies and
market-based economies have experienced serious setbacks. Ivory Coast,
which boasts sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest economy and was once
considered an island of regional stability, underwent a military coup
last Christmas Eve.
Similarly, Kenya was once seen as a potential regional model and engine
of change, partly because it has the ports and transportation needed to
link African trade with the outside world. But political conditions
there have steadily deteriorated, making it a symbol of the continent's
failures. In the capital, Nairobi, there are an estimated 100,000
street children, according to U.S. figures.
Militarily, about half the nations in sub-Saharan Africa are engaged
either in open conflict or heated disputes, some with internal factions
and some with neighboring states. Ethnic and religious strife is
rampant, producing some of the world's worst cases of genocide,
particularly in Central and East Africa.
The government chiefs of Ethiopia and Eritrea, heralded by the Clinton
administration in 1998 as leaders of the future, have since dragged
their countries into war. "Even the 'new' leaders, hailed by some in
the international community for bringing better leadership to places
like Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia, entrenched their positions through
tactics that differed little from their more authoritarian neighbors,"
Human Rights Watch, an international monitoring group, concludes in its
latest annual report.
The breakdown or deterioration of numerous governments has left vast
swaths of Africa without any state presence. Regarded as a continent of
promise and adventure in the 1960s and 1970s, it is now considered a
dangerous place for both inhabitants and visitors as economic
desperation spawns widespread crime, according to the National
Average per capita income in sub-Saharan Africa is $1,600 a year, the
U.N. has reported, making Africa the world's most impoverished region,
even though it has the world's richest array of natural resources, from
oil to diamonds to gold.
When it attained independence in 1957, Ghana had more than $400 million
in foreign exchange reserves and a higher per capita income than South
Korea. Today, it is one of the world's most impoverished nations, with
a per capita income of only $145 a month by some estimates.
Much of Africa's most profitable business activity is illicit. About
30% of the heroin intercepted at U.S. ports of entry, for example, is
seized from African syndicates, according to the State Department.
Corruption is the most pervasive problem, experts say. "New elites are
running the same scams as the colonial powers, only on a broader
scale," said Baker, the Africa specialist at Fund for Peace.
The combination of political deterioration and vast mineral resources
has prompted a new competition to divide up the continent's resources,
exacerbating the economic challenges. Many of today's conflicts, in
fact, are not about ideology, but about control of diamonds, oil or
"The first scramble for Africa was in the late 19th century, when the
Europeans carved out colonies in a race for wealth in resources," Baker
said. "This is the second scramble, only this time it's by the Africans
Competition for Zimbabwe's rich farmland has led to violence and state
seizure of white-owned farms. U.S. officials predict that the crisis
will lead to critical food shortages within six to nine months and
eventually displace 2 MILLION people, including farm workers and their
Socially, Africa's future is jeopardized by demographic changes and
substandard education, according to the National Intelligence Estimate
and regional experts.
More than half of the continent's residents are younger than 15. But
its school systems, from primary through university level, are rapidly
deteriorating. In many countries, average class size has doubled or
even tripled during the past decade. The average number of students per
room in Ugandan schools, for example, has soared from 35 to 100,
according to U.S. figures.
"The degradation of the African education system is one of the major
crises as we look to 2015," said a senior U.S. official who monitors
Africa, speaking on condition of anonymity. "No one wants to 'fess up'
to the fact that there are fewer [students] in schools, and they're
staying in school fewer years...That's going to have a major impact on
Finally, the AIDS pandemic is taking a staggering toll. Recent
estimates predict that 25% of the continent's more than 700 million
people will have died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome by 2010,
leaving behind 35 million orphans and slashing the region's economy by
The combination of AIDS, resurgent cholera and malaria, and infectious
diseases such as E. coli have caused average life expectancy to decline
to just over 48 years, compared with 76 years in Western industrialized
"Africa has not yet fallen off the edge of the world," the senior
official said. "But the gap between it and the rest of the developing
world is getting wider and wider by the day."