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Zimbabwe government set to downsize, white farmers to be compensated by land reform beneficiaries

According to AFP the Zimbabwean government is planning to cut down on its employees in a round of austerity measures aimed at reviving the economy.

The Zimbabwean government employs more than 300,000 people, and has a debt of over $16.9bn.

The report states that Zimbabwe’s finance minister Mthuli Ncube said that the measure will target employees who are due for retirement and  “those who are not correctly positioned in their positions”.

No specific numbers were given.

According to Fin24, beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s land reform measures, which are frequently credited with wrecking their economy, will have to compensate the displaced white farmers.

Those farmers are owed about $9 billion.

Lands and Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri told Zimbabwe’s parliament that the government would not be paying, as it was the individuals who got the land who benefited.

“It makes common sense that instead of labouring the tax payer, the person who is directly benefiting from those improvements contributes towards the compensation of the former farmers.”

ANA meanwhile reports that Zimbabweans have engaged in a buying frenzy based upon fears of a return to food shortages.

Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga is currently fronting talks between retailers and manufacturers to deal with the shortage, but he had taken ill on Monday.

My Take

Austerity will not help the Zimbabwean economy recover, because what you’ve got to bear in mind with austerity is if somebody is selling, somebody else is buying.

So cutting those jobs means less money going into Zimbabwe’s larger economy, which isn’t going to result in growth.

The trouble is, Zimbabwe doesn’t have the money to spend itself out of trouble, and we can’t really help them because our economy is struggling too.

So far as expecting the resettled farmers to pay the compensation owed to the displaced white farmers – do they have the money to do it?

A lot of the land was taken over by people who didn’t know the first thing about farming, hence why the whole thing ended in food shortages and economic collapse.

What are they supposed to compensate the white farmers with?

And this comes down to Zimbabweans being worried about a return to food shortages – because some of those farms that were redistributed may be operational, but a bit shaky.

This whole thing shows the dangers to racialised politics. Simply redistributing the land did not solve Zimbabwe’s economic inequalities – it just destroyed the economy.

To address our economic problems we need to remember that lesson, that it takes systemic effort to correct our imbalances, quick fixes such as the Zimbabwean land seizures, tend to end very badly.

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