Robert Mugabe, who has been Zimbabwe’s only ruler as president since it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980, is reasserting socialism as its economic system after years of a lukewarm trial of market-based economics.
Though blessed with rich natural resources, Zimbabwe has been increasingly beset with economic difficulties in recent years. Wracked by years of war and the world’s highest aids rate, Zimbabwe has seen hundreds of millions of dollars drained from its economy. The problem was made worse when Mugabe supporters seized white-owned farms, which had generated much of the hard currency in the largely agricultural economy.
As if this weren’t enough, Mugabe’s strong-arm tactics in managing the economy, combined with rampant corruption in his government, are alienating the private sector, reducing foreign investment and drying up International Monetary Fund loans due to loss of U.S. support.
Threatened by economic collapse and a growing grassroots political opposition, Mugabe supporters have added fuel to the fire by killing black opponents and white farmers.
It is against this backdrop that Mugabe is announcing the return to socialism. The current market-based economy is a handy scapegoat for the errors of his administration.
An October 15 AP online story reported, “Mugabe said a price freeze on basic foods imposed Friday will be strictly enforced …. ‘Let no one on this front expect mercy. … The state will take over any businesses that are closed,’ Mugabe said. ‘We will reorganize them with workers and at last that socialism we wanted can start again.’“
While Mugabe continues to assert himself in destroying Zimbabwe, superpower United States, and Britain, former ruler of Zimbabwe, condemn and criticize, but fail to persuade Mugabe to change.