Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Zimbabwe, the tragedy

AustinBay's Blog has an excerpt of this longer StrategyPage analysis of what's going on in Zimbabwe:

...A statistic that really does matter is unemployment. No one really knows what the unemployment rate is in Zimbabwe. Visit the Web and you will find estimates from fifty to eighty percent. As always, you have to ask not only who did the survey but what constitutes employment.

Zimbabwe’s once flourishing tourist industry has all but disappeared. In 1999, 1.4 million tourists visited Zimbabwe. Now there are no tourists. An estimated 200,000 Zimbabweans once worked in a tourism-related job (hotels, restaurants, etc.).

Almost everyone agrees, however, that commercial agriculture jobs are (or were) a key component in Zimbabwe’s economy. Since 2000, Zimbabwe has lost between 250,000 and 400,000 jobs in its once productive agricultural sector. In 2003 the UN reported approximately 100,000 farm workers were still employed on commercial farms. That was a decrease of 250,000 from an estimated 350,000 workers employed by commercial farms in 2000 prior to president Mugabe’s first “land redistribution” program, his “agrarian revolution” called the “Third Chimurenga,” or “liberation struggle.” The vast majority of those farms were owned by whites. The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union reported that there were approximately 4,500 white-owned commercial farms in Zimbabwe in 2000. The higher agricultural worker job loss figure is based a recent estimate, which means it is a very iffy statistic, like Zimbabwe’s actual inflation rate.

In 2000 the UN estimated that the 350,000 farm workers supported roughly two million people.

Using the same ratio (5.7 per worker) that means 2.28 million people who once had well-paying jobs (by Zimbabwean standards) now have little or no income. That is out of a 2005 population of around 13 million people….

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