It gets worse and worse:
Zimbabwe’s bakeries have shut and supermarkets have warned there will be no bread for the foreseeable future as the government admitted that wheat production had collapsed following the seizure of white-owned farms.
The agricultural ministry announcement that the wheat harvest is only about a third of what is required, and that imports are held up by lack of hard currency, came as a deadline passed today for the last white farmers to leave their land or face prosecution for trespass.
The agriculture minister, Rugare Gumbo, has blamed the food shortages on black farmers who have taken over formerly white-owned land.
“I am painfully aware of the widespread theft of stock, farm produce, irrigation equipment and the general vandalism of infrastructure by our new farmers,” he said.
“I am disappointed that our new farmers have proved to be failures since the start of the land reform programme in 2000. In spite of all the support government has been pouring into the agricultural sector, productivity and under-utilisation of land remain issues of concern.”
The ministry of agriculture has also blamed electricity shortages for the wheat shortfall, saying that power cuts have affected irrigation and halved crop yields per acre.
I trust beyond the obvious (“wage and price controls don’t work!” “Having no rule of law is bad for economic development!”) that the lesson in the need to temper claims of abstract justice with wisdom here is clear. Even if every farmer whose land was expropriated owed their property ownership quite directly to colonialism and apartheid, and some state policy to broaden ownership was desirable, you also have to ask what a particular policy will accomplish. Having productive land turned over to cronies of the state with no ability or willingness to farm had predictably catastrophic results.