April 18, 1980 was a promising day for the nation of Zimbabwe. They had a strong and influential leader in Robert Mugabe, whose ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union) party helped to free Zimbabwe from British rule (remember, the nation was formerly known as Rhodesia and was under the rule of jolly old chap Ian Smith) and establish itself as an independent nation on that day. Mugabe was elected as Zimbabwe's first and only Prime Minister, a position he still holds to this day (he's in his nineties now). One of the first things that Mugabe did was to initiate a very controversial land reform program, which expropriated land from skilled multi-generational farmers and redistributed it to unskilled subsistence farmers who really didn't have the resources or experience to maintain any decent level of productivity. Seeing as how Zimbabwe was primarily an agrarian economy, this was a very disruptive turn of events, as Zimbabwe's productivity output plummeted, putting strain on its once vibrant economy.
Robert Mugabe pushin' that pen again.
Image credit: VOA
Mugabe also began to engage in rampant cronyism and warmongering, throwing egregious amounts of money towards the country's involvement in the Second Congo War, and grifting much of the rest of it to support his (and his cronies') lavish lifestyle. I remember hearing one gentleman say that Mugabe "rails against colonialism while getting his suits tailored on London's Savile Row." I want to say a lot more about this, but I'm getting really sleepy (it's well past midnight right now), so I'll have to follow up with a "Part 2" post of some kind a little later. Stay tuned!
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