Mnangagwa’s command agriculture is a recipe for disaster, farmer tells US congress


Ben Freeth, whose father in-law Mike Campbell fought the Zimbabwean government of President Robert Mugabe to retain his land and won a landmark case in the Southern African Development Community Tribunal but lost it, told the United States congress last week that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s command agriculture programme was a disaster.

He said Mnangagwa was copying Lenin’s concept and every and nationalisation programme carried out around the world since Lenin’s land decree of 26 October 1917, has had equally disastrous effects. 

“It is interesting to note that in line with the Leninist nationalisation in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe has also instituted ‘command agriculture’, mirroring Lenin’s ‘command economy’.  The State commands and controls farmers in terms of whether they can grow and what they grow, as well as where they must market their produce. 

“Last year the State paid farmers double the world price for maize and sold it on for half what they bought it for.  This helped lead to a good harvest; but a record loss by the Grain Marketing Board of over 200 million dollars.  Such madcap schemes from a cash-strapped government and a cash-strapped people who have to pay for such schemes, are totally unsustainable,” he said.

Zimbabwe has hailed the command agriculture programme which has left it with a surplus enough to sustain the nation in the event of a poor season like the one it is likely to experience this season.

Below is his full testimony:

House Subcommittee on Africa hearing:   “The Recommended Focus of Future U.S. – Zimbabwe Relations”  Ben Freeth Testimony.

We need to get the root of the problem in Zimbabwe:    

• What is it that caused the fastest shrinking economy in the recorded history of the world in a peace time situation? 

• What is it that brought the most industrialized country in sub-Saharan Africa – after South Africa – into a state of 85% plus unemployment? 

• What is it that made the bread basket of southern Africa into a country that would have had widespread death by starvation if food aid had not come in from the U.S. and the West every year for 16 years after the farm invasions began?  For example, in 2002, just two years into the chaotic farm grab, Western governments had to give the World Food Program $300 million to feed some 5.5 million Zimbabweans, nearly 50% of the country's population. (At the height of the Ethiopian famine, international donors fed just 20% of Ethiopia's citizens.)1

• What is that has caused an estimated 25% of the entire Zimbabwe population of between 12 and 13 million people to flee the country of their birth in such a short period of time?   Most critically:     How can Zimbabwe be rebuilt from the ruins that have been created by the 37 years of former President Robert Mugabe’s reign?

Continued next page


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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