Potential Hot Spots: June 25, 2000


Zimbabwe, and to a lesser extent South Africa, are in the process of ethnically cleansing their non-Black populations. The issue is economics. The non-Blacks (mainly of European or Indian background) have long had (for cultural reasons) better education and entrepreneurial skills. During the colonial years, the non-Blacks were given additional advantages (like cheap land), but their major edge was the ability to start and run more complicated enterprises. Even in parts of Africa with no colonial governments, outsiders from India, the Middle East or Europe would come in and eventually control most of the non-agricultural economy. This caused resentment among the native population, which unscrupulous politicians would often exploit. At one point, Uganda expelled all of it's Indian population, and the economy collapsed. Over a decade later, a new government invited the Indians back, and some did return and got their businesses In Zimbabwe the issue was taking farmland from the white (and a few black) farmers and distributing it to poor blacks. Of course this has a downside, as it puts out of work the blacks who work as farm hands. It also greatly reduces the amount of food produced, and eliminates exports the white run farms were responsible. President Mugabe, in power for twenty years since Zimbabwe achieved independence, has ruined the economy. Corruption is rampant and the farm takeover are mainly a cover to attack those who would oppose Mugabe in the .upcoming parliamentary elections. Britain and other nations have given money to Mugabe to buy out the white farmers, but the initial funds were promptly stolen. There is a lot of state owned farmland available for distribution, but most of this has gone to wealthy political allies of the party in power. Mugabe has now threatened to take all white owned businesses as "compensation" for past wrongs. This will completely trash the economy. Apparently most of the population has figured out what is wrong and Mugabe's party may lose the elections. But the president is not up for re-election for two years, and has the power to dissolve parliament if he wants (or needs) to. But if an anti-corruption parliament does get dissolved, the unity and fearlessness that brought about such election results could turn into rebellion. . 


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