Backstory: Zimbabwe

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In the space of just seven years, Zimbabwe has managed to transform itself from one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous countries to one of its poorest and most chaotic. One estimate suggests that three million Zimbabweans have fled across the border in recent years. On this month's Backstory, we are joined by Isabella Matambanadzo, Zimbabwe Program Manager for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, and Princeton N. Lyman, the Adjunct Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, to explore the roots of Zimbabwe’s crisis.

Beyond Humanitarianism is available for purchase at


Princeton N. Lyman and Isabella Matambanadzo

Comments [4]

itai zimunya from Mutare, Zimbabwe

Alonzo Webb may need to know that there are no sanctions in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe enjoys a trade surplus with the US. 165 Zanu pf leaders were barred from travelling to the US, Australia and the EU. ONLY military trading with Zimbabwe was banned, and we Zimbabweans fully support that, however controvesial the North-South discourse could be. Our leaders tax us 40% and go shopping in the west whilst we die of hunger and these travel bans help save our money. Secondly, the ban on military trading saves our lives as our leaders shoot at will, and this ban is helping us live. Your arguments on land are just racial and not factual. Yes, now than 5 00 black elite now own the land whilst the majority, 12 million suffer. Land reform was inevitable, but not to a few black elite. Our position is clear, land to the poor (including poor indian and white Zimbabweans). What freedom with 1 TV state controlled station, 1 radio station broadcasting in 4 languages, militarised elections, and controlled prices where a loaf of bread officially costs USD120?, where a leader rules for 27 years and wants more? The colonial explanation is convinient but deceptive. How do Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique, former British and Portugal colonies prosper whilst we suffer.

Aug. 16 2007 06:59 AM

And there you have it, gentlemen: Africa.

Aug. 14 2007 09:15 PM
Alonzo Webb from New York

I must voice my total disappointment your your program regarding Zimbabwe. It the second occassion that you have decided not to speak the truth or have your guest do so. You fail to ask your guest the appropriate questions. The real problems that faces Zimbabwe are the cripling economic sanctions by the west. The genises of those sanctions are a direct result from Mugabe doing the just and moral thing to repossess land stolen by white English farmers. Leonard please explain, why should 400000 whites from England controll forcefully, the land and wealth of 12 million people. Explain to me if thats justice. Would you allow 400000 blacks form another country to come to America and forcefully take control the land and wealth of 12 million americans. It bothers me somewhat that you just cannot understand or chooses not to, accept that what Ian Wilsons did in Zimbabwe was a crime in every respect. We should should be lobbying our government to end all economic sanctions against Zimbabwe thats a start to end Zimbabwe's chronic problems.

Aug. 14 2007 02:13 PM
Lazarus Chambers from Harlem

Did we really think that Zimbabwe was going to be successful in its transition of land owners from European owners to African owners. There would be a decrease in international buying, increase prices for tools and any other equipment needed for the successful production of farm products. In essence, the West could not afford to show that Zimbabwe was successful in what it did because it would have encouraged the whole of Africa to throw off the Western European stranglehold. What is happening in Zimbabwe today, is what happened to Haiti over 200 years ago.

Aug. 14 2007 01:54 PM

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