USFlyer, your earlier statement "90% of the land is owned by the 10% white minority" is wrong on both accounts ... whites make up closer to 1% of the population of Zimbabwe, and to claim that they own 90% of the land is just laughable. Prior to this land redistribution program, the 4500-odd white farmers owned about one third of the country's arable land (not total land). The vast majority of land in the country is held in "tribal trust" areas, which are ruled over by local chiefs who decide who gets to farm where. The commercial farms of the white farmers are not more than 20% of the total land area of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean government intends to take 95% of this land from the farmers and distribute it to the landless.
The fact that this is going to be an economic disaster is denied only by those who choose not to see it. Over half a million farmworkers are going to lose their employment and income. Banks are going to lose the mortgaged property being seized by the state, and are facing having to write off millions of ZW$s in loans (the government has no money to compensate the banks - it's bankrupt, surviving only on handouts from Libya (fuel) and South Africa (electricity & grain) - and the farmers who will have lost their land won't be able to pay back their loans either as they would've lost everything without compensation).
The economy of Zimbabwe is based on agriculture, and production of maize(corn) & tobacco has already dropped by 60% from last year. That means less food, and also, less exports, which in turn means less foreign exchange, which in turn means more fuel shortages, less medicines, etc. The people being settled onto the seized land are primarily city dwellers, and the outlook for their success in agriculture is pretty gloomy. It is a fact that the world's largest food-producing nations (USA, etc) are characterised by a low rural population running large commercial farming ventures, NOT a large rural population farming small plots. ...these farms will again be efficient contributors to the national economy...
Sorry, I don't see it happening. This resettlement program runs counter to good agricultural policy, as evidenced in food-exporting countries across the globe.
What's with this statement?
While I may agree that Mugabe's motivation or methodology may not be ideal, I do applaud him for attempting to do something about this situation.
Have you forgotten that he's had over twenty years
to do something about the situation? He has been president since 1980. Throughout the 80's and the 90's, where was his concern about the land issue?? It clearly wasn't a problem then ... but then he was winning the elections hands-down, the economy was doing OK, no-one was starving. But after blowing the budget a couple of times over on a military campaign in the Congo in the late 90's, the government started running out of money, the currency nose-dived, and the cost of imported food, fuel, etc, sky-rocketed. Suddenly people were losing their jobs, no longer able to afford their previous standard of living, starting to go hungry ... and suddenly things didn't look so certain on the political front, so ... well, go figure.
a significant amount of the food these commercial farms produce is exported
Yip, it's deliberately done that way so the government can earn foreign exchange ... it takes the foreign earnings itself and pays out the farmers at the official exchange rate of around US$1:ZW$65 ... the blackmarket exchange rate is about ten times that, so the farmers get a raw deal there as well.
They are willing to suffer one year for the potential of smaller or no future shortages.
Your friends are obviously out of touch with the feelings of their countrymen back home ... read for yourself this article from Thursday's Financial Gazette (Zimbabwean newspaper):
These people are not Mugabe fans but have optimistic views of his land redistribution program and look forward to its end result.
I don't, because I know that its end result is going to be a whole lot of my tax money being used to feed starving neighbours who ought not to be starving in the first place, and a whole lot of starving people entering my country as economic refugees when their country's economy inevitably plunges off the precipice it's poised on.