Pol Pot Revisited
Zimbabwe suddenly looks like it has been in a war. The shops are empty,
there is little traffic and everyone is walking around in a daze.
stop me and ask what is going on? Well just remember Pol Pot. He came
power in Cambodia in the mid seventies, launched what they called the
revolution and in a matter of months they reduced the capital city to a
shell occupied by 25 000 people - down from two million.
In the process they had killed hundreds of thousands of skilled and
experienced Cambodians, forced millions into the rural areas where they
required to undergo re-education and make a living from subsistence
agriculture. It will take Cambodia millennia to recover after this
and ideologically driven regime was removed from power by military
People outside Zimbabwe have no idea of just what has happened in
in the past month. Conditions have gone from difficult to impossible. I
not exaggerating when I say there are no basics - no flour, no maize
no cooking oil, no margarine, no matches, no fuel, no meat, no eggs. On
of this there are widespread shortages of water and electricity. I
not know how people are surviving.
These terrible conditions are being deliberately created in a Pol Pot
operation that is supposed to be dealing with run away inflation. Its
goals lie elsewhere.
We now know that this operation was planned a long time ago -
soon as it became apparent that elections would have to be held in
2008. This is no knee jerk reaction to inflation, or to remarks by the
Ambassador about regime change. It began with an exercise to generate a
sudden spurt in inflation. This was achieved when the State started
foreign currency on the open market in June, using freshly printed
In a week of frenzied activity the price of the US dollar went from
Z$70 000 to Z$400 000. Importers and industrialists were forced to
prices to cover the replacement cost of stocks.
The State then unveiled its 'operation good governance'. Under
orders, the security forces were instructed to impose price reductions
all businesses. There was no legal basis for these instructions -
orders to go into firms on a systematic basis and order them to cut
or else. Managers and owners were specifically targeted to intimidate
into compliance. These have been arrested in their thousands, abused
held over in filthy, overcrowded cells with ordinary prisoners.
Trillions of dollars of stock values were slashed from prices, no
basis for these price cuts were sought or tolerated. Suddenly firms
the situation where they could not restock, could not manufacture and
for a profit - most of their established products were now being
the market at below cost. The more you produced, the faster your
Fuel was priced at half its landed cost and overnight some Z$400
stock values was lost as customers scrambled to buy cheap fuel at half
or less. All imports stopped.
The prices of all staple foods was likewise set at half or less the
production and when stocks ran out there was nothing to sell.
Now many theories have been put out about this operation - it was
is one, 'they are preparing for the elections and forcing firms to
prices is an attempt to curry favor with voters'. Many actually say
about time that business was brought to heel - a reaction to the
hikes caused by the first stage of this operation. It is too early for
to be the real reason; they see it as one outcome, but with little
value in their strategy.
My own view, based on what I know about the background, is that this is
carefully planned and ruthless exercise to reduce the urban voting
population, undermine the remaining support base of the MDC and take
control of the population and the economy in time for the March 2008
The dismantling of the commercial farm industry has reduced the voting
population on commercial farms from 2 million to about 600 000 and all
them are now under the control of either the State or Zanu PF elements
can dictate how they vote. These resettled areas are virtually no go
for the MDC.
In Communal areas the food supply has been brought under control and
direction, as has all other essentials for survival including the right
abode. Traditional leaders are tightly controlled by the State and are
under close supervision by resident CIO operatives who watch their
action. They have been through three elections and now believe that
control the vote in these areas by these means. They are probably
So the remaining threat is the urban vote. Now in the majority, with
million people living in urban areas, the towns and cities are the last
remaining centers of opposition. So like Pol Pot, the powers that be,
this case the small coterie of leaders surrounding Mugabe and the
involved in the Joint Operations Command, have decided to do some
When this operation is concluded they hope to have reduced the urban
population by as much as half, destroyed or taken over all major firms
the private sector and facilitated the takeover of all other surviving
by loyal Zanu PF supporters. They are deliberately halting food
the cities, destroying jobs and the transport industry. They will then
the pick of the commercial and industrial infrastructure that remains
intact, almost as if a neutron bomb had been used, and move on from
The remaining urban population would then be in the same position as
population in the rural areas - under tight control and able to vote
Then Zanu can allow an election to take place - probably in March as
planned, even with observers for the last few days of the campaign and
during the vote itself. Zanu feels confident that it can win a clear
majority - even a two-thirds majority vote under such circumstances.
only other issue is what happens to the three million Zimbabweans
by this ruthless, but clever scheme.
Most of them will swim the Limpopo or cross the border at Beitbridge.
in South Africa, or Botswana, or Zambia or the UK or the USA, they will
settle down, breathe a sigh of relief to be somewhere where sanity
and try to make a living, any sort of living. They will gradually be
assimilated and will start sending small sums of money 'home' to
relatives alive in Mugabe's national detention camp. Most
will not be able to vote.
What remains of Zimbabwe will be a sea of poverty and subsistence
with Party controlled islands of prosperity. A few foreign firms will
allowed to exploit our resources under close supervision and control
output used to support the lifestyles of the new elite who will
enjoy the luxury and pleasures that have become their norm in recent
on the gravy train. It has nothing to do with price control.
Bulawayo, 2nd August 2007