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Truth about Zimbabwe

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Frank Harris

Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 25
Location: UK

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2 April 2008

I have just read Ann Talbot's article. It is a well written peice and so on, but one is surprised to see WSWS taking the same line as the mainstream media.

Why the tsunami of propaganda about this small, insignificant country? There is something important going on.

Nobody in the mainstream gives a toss about human rights - it can have nothing to do with human rights.

Are our masters frightenned of something? Very likely.

It infuriates me that my masters are vulnerable - by my reading - but far from an attack being launched on them their normal opponents suddenly turn into kittens.

Surely what is happening is this: It is a near perfect example of Chomsky's 'Threat of a Good Example', which see in a search engine.

[Years ago a document was leaked from Whitehall saying '[nationalised] industries must be seen to fail'. How much more important therefore for a deviant *country* to be seen to fail.]

Mugabe had the intolerable presumption to give the land to the many and to insist on firms being at least 50% locally owned - stopping huge American corporations from pilaging his country. These must be seen to fail, otherwise other countries with more going for them are likely to emulate.

Like Oil for Food in Iraq the population are placed under enormous, fatal pressure. This is why medicines were denied the Iraqis and their hospitals bombed. The father cannot allow himself to die, for then they all die. He must keep himself alive and decide which of the children is to die next. He knows that if Sadam is removed the US will lift the blockade.

It usually does not work; but it sometimes does. It is worth a try.

They have no fuel for their tractors. This is why they cannot farm - not because they are chimpanzees, the propaganda line. They cannot sell some of their own produce to their own factories; because of a gimmic the Americans have thought up. Inflation many thousand percent. Etc., etc.. These speak of ECONOMIC, REPEAT ECONOMIC SANCTIONS.

The Zimbabweans are being musdered by whoever put the sanctions on. (The US and Britain and to some extent European heads of state.) These are the war criminals. The argument is so simple they worry even the Treens might sus they are murderers. They churn out the propaganda to protect their evil, insane skins.
Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:18 pm
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This is how the BBC censored Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela's recent speech in London was severely censored by the BBC, giving it a completely different meaning to that which was intended.

Here is living proof why nobody should trust the BBC any longer.
Fri Jun 27, 2008 11:40 pm
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These objects of contempt are now our best chance of feeding the world

Peasants are detested by both communists and capitalists - but when it comes to productivity a small farm is unbeatable

I suggest you sit down before you read this. Robert Mugabe is right. At last week's global food summit he was the only leader to speak of "the importance of land in agricultural production and food security". Countries should follow Zimbabwe's lead, he said, in democratising ownership.

Of course the old bastard has done just the opposite. He has evicted his opponents and given land to his supporters. He has failed to support the new settlements with credit or expertise, with the result that farming in Zimbabwe has collapsed. The country was in desperate need of land reform when Mugabe became president. It remains in desperate need of land reform today.

But he is right in theory. Though the rich world's governments won't hear it, the issue of whether or not the world will be fed is partly a function of ownership. This reflects an unexpected discovery. It was first made in 1962 by the Nobel economist Amartya Sen, and has since been confirmed by dozens of studies. There is an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produce per hectare. The smaller they are, the greater the yield.

In some cases, the difference is enormous. A recent study of farming in Turkey, for example, found that farms of less than one hectare are 20 times as productive as farms of more than 10 hectares. Sen's observation has been tested in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Java, the Philippines, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay. It appears to hold almost everywhere.

The finding would be surprising in any industry, as we have come to associate efficiency with scale. In farming it seems particularly odd, because small producers are less likely to own machinery, less likely to have capital or access to credit, and less likely to know about the latest techniques.

There's a good deal of controversy about why this relationship exists. Some researchers argued that it was the result of a statistical artefact: fertile soils support higher populations than barren lands, so farm size could be a result of productivity, rather than the other way around. But further studies have shown that the inverse relationship holds across an area of fertile land. Moreover, it works even in countries such as Brazil, where the biggest farmers have grabbed the best land.

The most plausible explanation is that small farmers use more labour per hectare than big farmers. Their workforce largely consists of members of their own families, which means that labour costs are lower than on large farms (they don't have to spend money recruiting or supervising workers), while the quality of the work is higher. With more labour, farmers can cultivate their land more intensively: they spend more time terracing and building irrigation systems; they sow again immediately after the harvest; and they might grow several crops in the same field.

In the early days of the green revolution, this relationship seemed to go into reverse: the bigger farms, with access to credit, were able to invest in new varieties and boost their yields. But as the new varieties have spread to smaller farmers, the inverse relationship has reasserted itself. If governments are serious about feeding the world, they should be breaking up large landholdings, redistributing them to the poor and concentrating their research and their funding on supporting small farms.

There are plenty of other reasons for defending small farmers in poor countries. The economic miracles in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan arose from their land reform programmes. Peasant farmers used the cash they made to build small businesses. The same thing seems to have happened in China, though it was delayed for 40 years by collectivisation and the Great Leap Backwards: the economic benefits of the redistribution that began in 1949 were not felt until the early 80s. Growth based on small farms tends to be more equitable than growth built around capital-intensive industries. Though their land is used intensively, the total ecological impact of smallholdings is lower. When small farms are bought up by big ones, the displaced workers move into new land to try to scratch out a living. I once followed evicted peasants from the Brazilian state of Maranhão 2,000 miles across the Amazon to the land of the Yanomami people, then watched them rip it apart.

But the prejudice against small farmers is unchallengeable. It gives rise to the oddest insult in the English language: when you call someone a peasant, you are accusing them of being self-reliant and productive. Peasants are detested by capitalists and communists alike. Both have sought to seize peasants' land, and have a powerful vested interest in demeaning and demonising them. In its profile of Turkey, the country whose small farmers are 20 times more productive than its large ones, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation states that, as a result of small landholdings, "farm output ... remains low". The OECD states: "Stopping land fragmentation ... and consolidating the highly fragmented land is indispensable for raising agricultural productivity." Neither body provides any supporting evidence. A rootless, half-starved labouring class suits capital very well.

Like Mugabe, the donor countries and the big international bodies loudly demand that small farmers be supported, while quietly shafting them. Last week's Rome food summit agreed "to help farmers, particularly small-scale producers, increase production and integrate with local, regional, and international markets". But when, earlier this year, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge proposed a means of doing just this, the US, Australia and Canada refused to endorse it as it offended big business, while the United Kingdom remains the only country that won't reveal whether or not it supports the study.

Big business is killing small farming. By extending intellectual property rights over every aspect of production, and by developing plants that either won't breed true or don't reproduce at all, big business ensures that only those with access to capital can cultivate. As it captures both the wholesale and retail markets, it seeks to reduce its transaction costs by engaging only with major sellers. If you think that supermarkets are giving farmers in the UK a hard time, you should see what they are doing to growers in the poor world. As developing countries sweep away street markets and hawkers' stalls and replace them with superstores and glossy malls, the most productive farmers lose their customers and are forced to sell up. The rich nations support this process by demanding access for their companies. Their agricultural subsidies still help their own large farmers to compete unfairly with the small producers of the poor world.

This leads to an interesting conclusion. For many years, well-meaning liberals have supported the fair trade movement because of the benefits it delivers directly to the people it buys from. But the structure of the global food market is changing so rapidly that fair trade is now becoming one of the few means by which small farmers in poor nations might survive. A shift from small to large farms will cause a major decline in global production, just as food supplies become tight. Fair trade might now be necessary not only as a means of redistributing income, but also to feed the world.


THE AFRICAN STRUGGLE - Mugabe accuses West of trying to starve him out

ROBERT MUGABE used the recently held UN world food conference in Rome to accuse Britain and its Western allies of trying to topple him through “illegal regime change” by crippling Zimbabwe economically.

There was also serious criticism from a more authoritative source when Jacques Diouf, the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, accused the West of getting its priorities wrong, worrying about climate change, cars and biofuels at the expense of feeding the poor. Mr Diouf said: “Nobody understands how $11 billion to $12 billion a year of subsidies in 2006 have had the effect of diverting 100 million tonnes of cereals from human consumption, mostly to satisfy a thirst for fuel for vehicles.”

Mr Diouf called for £15 billion a year to be spent on giving 862 million hungry people “the right to food”.

He said that the amount spent on food aid for the Third World had more than halved in real terms, from £4 billion in 1980 to £1.7 billion in 2004. Ed Schafer, the US Agriculture Secretary, said that biofuels were responsible for only 2 to 3 per cent of the predicted 43 per cent rise in food prices this year.

Other participants said that biofuels accounted for 15 to 30 per cent of the increases. President Mubarak of Egypt called for “agricultural crops to be used as food for human beings, not as fuel for engines”.

The biofuel row threatens to derail attempts to find a consensus at the summit because the United States, Canada and Brazil all have sizeable biofuel industries. The President of Brazil, Lula da Silva, said that blaming biofuel for soaring food prices was an oversimplification.

The summit opened with a call from Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary- General, for world food production to rise by 50 per cent by 2030 to meet growing demand. He called for lower export restrictions and import tariffs with immediate effect.

The conference has been overshadowed by the row over Mr Mugabe and by the presence of President Ahmadinejad of Iran, who has used his visit to Rome to attack what he called Israel’s “criminal and terrorist Zionist regime”. Mr Mugabe said that Britain had “mobilised its friends and allies in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand to impose illegal economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. All this has been done to cripple Zimbabwe’s economy and thereby effect illegal regime change in our country.” He blamed the fact that millions of Zimbabweans were facing starvation on the sanctions, as well as on climate change and fuel prices.

Mr Mugabe said Britain and its allies had channelled funds through nongovernmental organisations to opposition parties, which were “the creation of the West”, thus using food aid as a political weapon. The Zimbabwean leader said that his country had democratised land ownership over the past decade and 300,000 Zimbabweans were now the proud owners of land previously owned by 4,000 white farmers, “mainly of British stock”. This had been welcomed by “the vast majority of our people” but had “elicited wrath from our former colonial masters”. He was applauded politely but reproved by the chairman for running over the allotted five minutes.

Douglas Alexander, Britain’s International Development Minister, retorted that Mr Mugabe himself was to blame for ruining Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of southern Africa. In his speech Mr Ahmadinejad alleged that unnamed profiteering forces were driving up oil prices to further their geopolitical aims. “While the growth of consumption is lower than that of production and the market is full of oil, prices continue to rise and this situation is completely manipulated,” he told the summit.

Mr Ahmadinejad had asked for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI but the Vatican said all such requests had been turned down. It said the Pope was unable to meet various leaders “because of the number of requests, the limited time available, and prior commitments”.

Neither Mr Mugabe nor Mr Ahmadenijad was invited to a banquet hosted by the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

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Fri Jun 27, 2008 11:52 pm
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Frank Harris

Joined: 29 Dec 2005
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Zimbabwe hyperinflation 'war by other means'

A month ago, the bond vigilantes were screaming that the Fed’s QE2 would be the first step on the road to Zimbabwe-style hundred trillion dollar notes. Zimbabwe (the former Southern Rhodesia) is the poster example of what can go wrong when a government pays its bills by printing money. Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed in 2008, when its currency hyperinflated to the point that it was trading with the U.S. dollar at an exchange rate of 10 trillion to 1. On November 29, Cullen Roche wrote in the Pragmatic Capitalist:

Back in October the economic buzzwords had become “money printing” and “debt monetization”. . . . [T]he Fed was initiating their policy of QE2 and you’d have been hard pressed to find someone in this country (and around the world for that matter) who wasn’t entirely convinced that the USA was about to send the dollar into some sort of death spiral. QE2 was about to set off a round of inflation that would make Zimbabwe look like a cakewalk. And then something odd happened – the dollar rallied as QE2 set sail and hasn’t looked back since.

What really happened in Zimbabwe? And why does QE2 seem to be making the dollar stronger rather than weaker, as the inflationistas predicted?

Anatomy of a Hyperinflation

Professor Michael Hudson has studied hyperinflation extensively. He maintains that “every hyperinflation in history stems from the foreign exchange markets. It stems from governments trying to throw enough of their currency on the market to pay their foreign debts.”

It is in the foreign exchange markets that a national currency becomes vulnerable to manipulation by speculators.

The Zimbabwe economic crisis dated back to 2001, when the government defaulted on its loans and the IMF refused to make the usual accommodations, including refinancing and loan forgiveness. Zimbabwe’s credit was ruined and it could not get loans elsewhere, so the government resorted to issuing its own national currency and using the money to buy U.S. dollars on the foreign exchange market. These dollars were then used to pay the IMF and regain the country’s credit rating. According to a statement by the Zimbabwe central bank, the hyperinflation was caused by speculators who charged exorbitant rates for U.S. dollars, causing a drastic devaluation of the Zimbabwe currency.

But something darker seems also to have been going on. Timothy Kalyegira, a columnist with the Daily Monitor of Uganda, wrote in a 2007 article:

Most observers and the general public believe Zimbabwe’s economic crisis was brought about by Mugabe’s decision to seize white-owned commercial farms in 2000. That might well be true. But how about another, much more sinister element . . . sabotage?

Kalyegira asked how a government “with the same tyrant called Mugabe as president, the same corruption, and same mismanagement, kept inflation down to single digit figures [before 2000], but after 2000, the same leader, government, and fiscal policies suddenly become so hopelessly incompetent that inflation is at the latest reported to be over 500,000 percent?”

Canadian commentator Stephen Gowans calls it “warfare by other means.” Devaluing the enemy’s currency has been used as a war tactic historically. It was used by Napoleon against the Russians and by the British against the American colonists.

In 1992, financier George Soros showed how it was done, when his hedge fund virtually single-handedly brought down the British pound. His fund sold short more than $10 billion worth of pounds, forcing the Bank of England to devalue the currency, earning Soros an estimated $1.1 billion and the title "the man who broke the Bank of England." In 1997, the UK Treasury estimated the cost at 3.4 billion pounds.
Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:07 am
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