Famine, disease, crumbling infrastructure, poor education, shrinking incomes — these are just a few of Africa's afflictions. And, as Zimbabwe shows, many are self-inflicted.And the economy?
African leaders often point fingers at the West for "not doing enough." But last week's meeting of the Southern African Development Community shows why sensible wealthy nations are reluctant to give aid.
For at that meeting, some of Africa's so-called leaders disgraced themselves by endorsing the brutal, murderous regime of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe's 27 years of misrule have taken a country that was once prosperous — the breadbasket of Africa, it was called — and turned it into a poverty-stricken hellhole rife with famine, genocide and terror, and lacking rule of law.
"Corruption is endemic, inflation is in triple digits, most economic activity is informal, and controversial land reform has seriously undermined agricultural production,"
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Seizures of farms from highly productive farmers have led to widespread hunger. Meanwhile, economic mismanagement has sent inflation soaring to 1,700% a year. Real output per person has plunged two-thirds since 2003.
With the economy imploding . . . the government has simply taken to printing money. Faced with such economic chaos, more than 3 million people — many of them Zimbabwe's most productive citizens — have become refugees in neighboring countries.
. . . the U.N. issued a frightening forecast of more starvation for Zimbabwe, where some 1.4 million people are, in U.N. parlance, "food insecure."
Zimbabwe once had plentiful food — it even exported it to neighbors. Today it needs 1.8 million metric tons of food to feed its people, but grows a third of that.