The troubles in Zimbabwe are continuing, despite the power-sharing agreement from September last year. While it is easy to dismiss Mugabe & friends as just a bunch of evil thugs, and conclude that the solution to the world is having fewer evil thugs… it is interesting to note that their primary reform that has ruined Zimbabwe was land reform.
The original rule was that when a farmer wanted to sell their land, they must first offer their property to the government at market rates (unless they have a certificate stating the govt wasn’t interested). It’s not exactly a libertarian law, but it was generally well accepted and could have lead to some land redistribution to black Zimbabweans, as was the plan.
But funny things happen to government plans. Occasionally, politicians get in the way. In an accelerated attempt to bring on asset redistribution — a goal so admired by the left — Mugabe started simply taking the land.
Writing for CATO, Eddie Cross (an opposition MP in Zimbabwe) explains the cost of land reform:
The combined costs of the land reform are staggering— they include US$2.8 billion in international food aid on an emergency basis, nearly US$12 billion in lost agricultural production over 10 years, and a potential US$5 billion in compensation—a total of some US$20 billion.
This might not sound like much for for Australians who have just seen a nearly $60 billion deficit… but to put it in context the Zimbabwe economy is only about $5 billion per year.
With unemployment at 94% and inflation running at nearly 90 sextillion% (ie 90,000,000,000,000,000,000,000), Zimbabwe is a shining example of what a government can do to a country when they have the wrong ideas.