Wednesday, 18 December 2013


MISERABLE SCHOOL LEAGUE TABLES

The fashion for league tables is understandable in this day and age when everything seems to be compared with everything and everyone else. So when a table comes out that shows Britain’s youngsters are only 29th in the world of educational attainment, it shocks. Commentators and hacks are virulent about our fall in the world rankings. Experts are called in to give explanations and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth particularly amongst the politicians. From them the answer is predictable and always the same. They are sorting it out, it takes time and things are better than they were. This is, of course, to lose sight of the fact that they are the main problem.

Going back to the immediate post Second World War period, a Labour government introduced a two tear system of education. This was the grammar school, which already existed, and secondary modern system with selection by 11 plus examination at the end of primary school. The idea was a good one except for the 11+. The grammar school education was exam orientated. The secondary modern schools were supposed to be for pupils who were more inclined towards technical and engineering careers and who did not want to follow the normal GCE route or go to university. Where the secondary modern system failed was firstly, in its appointment of head masters and staff and secondly, the way governments allocated money. Most of the head masters and teachers originated in grammar or private schools and entered the profession via college or university. They wanted to turn their schools into grammar schools because that was all they knew. Then the governments decided to fund schools on the number of GCEs they attained. So instead of following technical subjects, the pupils were being forced to take the normal GCE subjects. This resulted in the secondary modern becoming a second class grammar school. The whole system became a nonsense.

In the 70s when Labour came to power again they could see the system was failing children and furthermore, believed that the grammar school was elitist. This led to the whole system being scrapped and replaced by the comprehensive system. This was the socialist ideal. Everyone was educationally the same, should have the same opportunities and no one would be left behind. Unfortunately, whilst the sentiments may be laudable in reality it was unworkable. Different levels of ability go with life, that's the way we are. Once again, most of the teaching staff of these schools came from the grammar school tradition and were not sympathetic to the comprehensive idea. Streaming, which was supposed to be abolished in comprehensive schools came back in various disguised forms.

Governments struggled on with comprehensive schools and successive ministers of education fiddled with the organisation and curriculum to try and improve it. Then in the 90s a Labour government once again, decided that the system needed improving and in 2000 introduced a new idea called the academy or free school. This was supposed to allow schools more freedom to do and teach what they liked. They are controlled by governors and they are funded directly by the central government and not local government which was deemed to be too interfering. This was, however, a voluntary system and anyone or group could start a school and get government funding.

However, every new minister for education, and they change every time there is a government reshuffle, tries to put his or her mark on the system and so comes up with new ideas and things to changes. The poor teachers don't know whether they are coming or going. This is one of the main causes of educational decline, teacher moral is low. Way back at the beginning of the last century teachers were promised their own governing body as have nurses, doctors, lawyers etc., but successive governments have refused to honour the promise. Politicians feel this would give the profession too much power and that worries them. Finally, the countries that do so well and come at the top of the league tables are countries that don't have the safety net of unemployment benefit if you fail to get a job. Hence, their parents push their children to extremes. Interviews with the children produce evidence that they work up to 14 hours a day. They do extra lessons and homework till well on into the night then get up early to do more before heading off to school in the morning. Do we want our children to work that hard? Children need a minimum of 8 hours sleep and these far eastern kids don't get it. All work and no play does make Jack a dull boy and these countries are storing up trouble for the future. So let's calm down about league tables and stop politicians continually interfering with education and we'll get on fine.

Friday, 29 November 2013


BLAME ISRAEL

Two suicide car bombs explode in front of the Iranian embassy in Beirut. An Al Qaeda related group immediately admits responsibility. What do the Iranians do? They blame Israel. Why would they do that when the perpetrators have admitted that they did it? Iran is an Islamic theocracy and the last thing it wants to believe is that an Islamic group would be bombing its embassy. Add to that the fact that Israel, next to the USA, is the great Satan whom the Iranians have openly stated that they will wipe off the face of the earth (very peaceful from the religion of peace) and you have the answer.

Unfortunately religion plays a big part in this conflict, Islam wants to annihilate Judaism even though it comes from the same root. The other incomprehensible thing about the accusation is that since when did anyone see the Israelis using suicide as a weapon. They don't do it, because, like all other civilised peoples, they value life. Only Islam, by some contorted method of thinking, manages to turn suicide into martyrdom. The Koran specifically forbids suicide and yet some mullahs manage to convince their followers that they will instantly go to paradise if they blow themselves up along with as many other innocent people as possible.

Go to Oxbridge where the ivory tower intellectuals have well documented debates for and against Islam being a religion of peace. There are plenty of educated and well read Muslims who will argue that it is. Then look around the world for trouble spots. Guess what? Most of them are Islamic in nature. There is no surprise that the Iranian embassy was bombed by Al Qaeda. The latter is Sunni and the former Shiite. They are constantly at each others throats. Just look at Iraq. When the Western armies invaded that country to oust Hussain they unleashed an unstoppable conflict between these two sects. They did not understand them or the effect of their ill advised invasion. The problem has continued ever since they left, and so far in 2013 over 5000 innocent people have been killed, and this is the religion of peace. They blow each other up at funerals, marriages, mosques, market places, pilgrimages and religious gatherings. Kill as many people as possible and get instant martyrdom. A truly amazing philosophy which can only be termed as primitive. The Syrian war is, of course, the primary cause of the explosions. Iran backs Assad whilst Al Qaeda backs the rebels.

The only way to get peace in the Middle East is for all the groups and nations to agree to let each other alone and foster trade. Both Arabs and Jews are great traders and have been so in the past. Their economies could flourish if they worked together and if that happened the conflict would surely die. However, don't hold your breath.

Friday, 15 November 2013


WHY THE PEACE HOPES FOR THE CONGO WILL FAIL

The onset of the rape of a country

Now that the rebel group M23 have stated that they are giving up the fight and are in future going to use democratic methods what are the odds on peace finally coming to that benighted country? Not great I fear. The Congo is a vast country of over 2.3 million square kilometres, [France has only just over half a million]. Its population is about 75 million. Its borders are the result of the 'Rush for Africa' towards the end of the 19th century. There was strong competition for the whole of the Congo region between the French and the Belgians or to be more precise the Belgian king, Leopold 11. In actual fact, his government was not keen on the idea at all. The explorer Stanley had travelled through the Congo region and had urged the British government to move in but, for various reasons, it was not interested. He was then persuaded to visit the Belgian king and agreed to act on his behalf. In the end the French settled for a small part of the territory north of the river Congo and Leopold got his hands on what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Leopold promised philanthropy and education to his European critics but, in fact, all he wanted was money. It was he who turned it into a personal fief and then started the brutal exploitation of the country and its peoples just to amass a personal fortune.

Exploitation and punishment

This was not a homogeneous country before the advent of European exploration and colonisation. It was made up of many chieftain-ships and petty kingdoms all of whom were jealous of their patch and ruled it in the manner of tribal rulers throughout Africa. Once Leopold got his way at the Berlin conference in 1885 he was quick to take control by way of his army. Officers moved into the country, recruited locals to act as policemen and the exploitation began. Rubber was the new in product and demand for it was growing throughout Europe and America. The rubber tree grew wild in the Congo jungles and that was the start of the exploitation. Locals were forced to collect raw rubber from the forests on pain of severe punishment if they did not fulfil their quotas. The punishments included amputations and even slavery. By the beginning of the twentieth century Leopold was getting such a bad name throughout Europe and America because of the ill-treatment of the native population that the Belgian government was persuaded to take on the running of the country.

Death of expectations

he elected Belgian government administered the colony between 1908 and 1960 and this was the honeymoon period for the population. However, beneath the calm was a continual tribal ferment which transmogrified itself into parties fighting for independence. The hand-over of the rains of government from the Belgians to the MNC party led by Patrice Lumumba was anything but smooth and the bulk of white administrators fled the country. Internal turmoil began almost immediately as different parties vied for power. Lumumba was overthrown in January 1961 and murdered basically because he had communist leanings. The country descended into chaos from which it has never really recovered. Joseph Mobutu eventually gained power in 1965 with the backing of the army and ruled, as absolute dictator, till he was ousted in 1997. He was able to stay in power for all that time because he had the backing of the USA as they saw him as a bulwark against communist infiltration in Africa. The fact that he exploited his own people in similar fashion to Leopold and led probably the most corrupt regime in the whole of Africa, did not seem to bother the American administration. His overthrow only happened when the Cold War came to an end and the USA had no more use for him.

Corruption of a viable state

Since then the DR Congo has been at war with itself. The current presided Joseph Kabila, son of the last and assassinated president blames Rwanda and Uganda and anyone else who may come to mind but in the end it is tribal warfare and it has killed as many as 5 million people to date, a majority through famine and disease. This is the saddest thing of all because the country is fertile and can grow any number of crops. It is also one of the richest countries in the world in mineral resources. These include diamonds, gold and silver, copper, cobalt, iron and coal and such rarities as germanium, radium and coltan which is worth more than gold.

Many of these are mined in the most primitive fashion with the miners digging with picks and shovels and even bare hands. They seldom receive a wage of more than 10 USD per month whilst the recipients of the products, who are middlemen, reap the huge rewards. The poor in Congo are still exploited to the full by their own kind. It could and should be one of the richest countries in Africa and yet decades of exploitation and total corruption from the top down keep the country in poverty. The internal wars have kept the land from being tilled so food is scarce in a country that could feed the whole of Africa and what little infrastructure there ever was remains shattered. So the surrender of one of the factions, all be it a major one, will not bring peace and the poor will continue to suffer.

Friday, 1 November 2013


GRANGEMOUTH AND UNIONS

Some time ago the management of Grangemouth petrochemical facility put a plan to the workers, through their union Unite, to make the plant economical as it was losing money. The union disagreed and stated is was making money. The workers were told of the consequences and the union urged them to vote for strike action. They voted in favour, only just, but we live in a democracy so a simple majority is good enough. So out they went and the plant stood idle. The management told the union that if they guaranteed no strike action for 60 days, a reasonable request, they would reopen the plant and continue negotiations. The union refused but in actual fact, it was playing politics as the main dispute was over a sacked union official. The union was really looking after itself rather than the interests of its members but that didn't come across to the majority.

The upshot of the argument was that the owner of the refinery decided to close the unprofitable petrochemical side of the plant with the loss of 800 jobs. As the workers came out of the meeting where they learned of their fate they all damned the management for their loss. Not one admitted that they had voted for the strike or that perhaps the union was wrong. It was all down to the management who had laid out a very reasonable scheme to make the plant viable and profitable which included a massive re-investment. They followed union instructions and voted against that and then with a certain amount of hypocrisy blamed the management for the end result.

In general owners of businesses that are profitable do not close them down. If a business is unprofitable it will eventually go bust. In the eyes of most people looking on at the Grangemouth dispute they would see the terms offered as being reasonable, not great if you are an employee taking a pay cut and big changes to your expected pension, but better than no job at all. It should be mentioned here that the average pay at the Grangemouth refinery is double the national average in Scotland. So here we have a company that could be profitable with some changes in the work practices and a large investment to modify and update the plant, and a union with a grievance because of a sacked official able to make a lot of trouble because of the general unrest it sees amongst its members.

Look at union history and the same story is repeated over and over again throughout the twentieth century. When the unions were first started they were genuinely needed. The owners rode roughshod over their employees. However, give any organisation with the potential of power an inch and it's a natural instinct to take a mile. Between the two world wars the unions did a good job. They helped lift workers out of poverty and improved working conditions considerably. After the Second World War Britain was in a parlous state, the country was broke and life was difficult for most people and many businesses. In an effort to get better deals for their members, unions flexed their muscles, usually in the form of strikes. Britain became not only the strike capital of Europe but a bit of a joke. It was regularly termed as The sick man of Europe.

As the unions got stronger management got weaker and floundered in a search of ways to deal with them. The unions had the upper hand, they just called their members out on strike and the business went further into the red. During the 60s and 70s the unions got so powerful they were able to dictate to governments. They were also able to dictate to the owners and particularly to nationalised industries. The result, massive over employment in many industries and pay hikes well above inflation and often far more than the companies could well afford. This resulted in the closure of Britain's main ports such as Liverpool, London and Hull. It also led to many industries pricing themselves out of the market. Shipbuilding, car manufacture, steel production all fell foul of union manipulation and greed. They had become parasitic. And like parasites which feed on the blood of the host they eventually suck it dry and it dies even though that means their own death.

The news paper industry was a classical example. The unions ruled supreme, you were a member or you didn't work. Step out of line with a shop steward or convenor and you didn't work. On the other hand If you didn't turn up or were told not to bother and have a day or two off you were still marked in by the union official and paid by the company. Employees actually didn't have to register with the company just the union and so they didn't even pay taxes as they booked in under such names as Mickey Mouse. It was a joke and if the papers were to continue being printed something had to be done. Eventually the owners moved out of Fleet Street and in the new premises banned the unions. One famous newspaper owner offered the Fleet Street building and all its contents free to the union so it could run it as a going concern itself. It declined the generous offer because the union elders knew it was an impossible task if they were to run it as they had been.

So now back to Grangemouth. The owner stated that the petrochemical side of the plant would not now reopen, would go into bankruptcy and that the liquidators would be in by following week. What has the union done, gone running to him, tail between its legs, and told him it would accept all his proposals. He is now in the driving seat and can force through much harsher terms than he was offering before and my bet is that he will. It's always the workers who lose out but they never seem to blame the union.

Friday, 18 October 2013


SHARIA LAW

Sharia law keeps rearing its ugly head from day to day all over Europe, wherever there are communities of Moslems and a mosque. Radical mullahs preach the coming of the next caliphate and the imposition of this primitive and outdated form of law. Look at France, Belgium, Holland and Britain and there are plenty of examples of these communities that are actually practising forms of Sharia, in contravention of the countries laws, and if proof be needed just turn to You Tube, tap in radical Islam and you will, at least, be surprised if not shocked by the number and virulence of examples.

Sharia law comes from the Koran and the Sunnah and these originated with the prophet Mohammed. Because of that, according to Islam, no part of the contents can be changed. Well, this law may have worked in the wild and woolly seventh century deserts of Arabia but try and explain it to your average Westerner living in secular Europe and it will be seen as a medieval form of law that the West jettisoned centuries ago. Unlike modern western laws, to change Sharia would be a sin akin to sacrilege. It can't be updated or made more user friendly or brought into keeping with modern thought, because that is, in the word of the Moslem, 'haram'

Islam, including Sharia law, is, of course, not just a religion but a political system of government too that sits uncomfortably with democracy. In fact, the two don't get on at all. In the West people who speak out against Sharia law are often branded racist, right wing, fascist or even Nazi, and this by their own compatriots. This shows a real lack on understanding of Islam. There is no more right wing or even fascist ideology than Islam and Sharia law. Within this political system there can be no form of democracy whatsoever. The individual has no say as to the way he or she is governed, especially 'she'. The religious men are the keepers and interpreters of the law and what they say cannot be challenged. I have lived under Sharia law and seen this working in person. A man convicted of a murder on Tuesday was taken to the public square in the town I was living in and beheaded on Friday after prayers, protesting his innocence all the way. This is Sharia justice, there is no appeal because the Mullahs are always right. Just look at the best example, Iran, where the population kicked out a brutal dictator in the Shah and welcomed, with open arms, an even more brutal and humourless cleric in Khomeini. The theocracy that has ruled Iran ever since has killed, maimed and imprisoned far more people than the Shah ever did.

Any system of law that subjects its people to having their hands and feet chopped off for an offence, or allows the stoning to death of women (can anyone imagine what a slow and disgusting death that is), beheading, hanging and whipping, is, in the eyes of civilised people, primitive to say the least. Many of the mullahs who administer this sort of justice in countries where it is practised, are not educated men, they have studied the Koran and have probably learnt it off by heart, they may be well up on all the nuances of the religion and its laws but worldly and educated they are not.

Another big problem with Sharia law, as if the above were not enough, is that no translation of it is acceptable by Islamic scholars and judges. Only the version written in Arabic is accepted as correct in any case of argument. So if you don't read Arabic you have to take the judges word for it and, of course, they are not scrupulously consistent. Anything they don't like can be described as 'against Sharia law' and actually you have no way of disproving it. This is also a problem with converts, particularly women. When being instructed in the tenets of Islam, in preparation for conversion, you are not actually told all the nasty bits, one of the worst being that should you change your mind and revert back to what you were, you instantly attract a death sentence. In fact, Islam has the death penalty for more infractions (many of them petty in the eyes of Westerners) of the law than the USA. One would think that if God is so powerful and all seeing you could let him deal with the sinners instead of allowing hard line, unmerciful and uneducated mullahs to make the decision.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

ERITREAN TRAGEDY



The news of the sinking of a ship full of African immigrants off the island of Lampedusa is tragic and one's mind ties itself in knots trying to figure a way round stopping things like this happening. What makes it more tragic is that most of the people on board were Eritreans. There were some Somalis amongst them and we all understand why they would wish to leave their country which has been a failed state in total turmoil for more than 30 years.

But Eritrea is a different case altogether. Ask most people about Eritrea and you get a blank look. Nobody seems to know anything about Eritrea. To the south of Sudan and the east of Ethiopia it has an eight hundred kilometre coastline on the Red Sea. It is a land of endless possibilities, rich in minerals, with a landscape that reaches from the depths of the Danakil depression, one of the hottest places on earth, to the heights of the plateau, about 3,00 meters, on which the capital, Asmara, stands. With wonderful scenery and wild life it is an ideal spot for tourism. Rains are fitful (as can be seen from my book Dear Chips), but in general they get enough to grow sufficient food for their needs.

In 1941 British forces helped by Ethiopian nationalists, defeated the Italians in Ethiopia and Eritrea which had been an Italian colony, was liberated too. The British Government was given the task of administering Eritrea under a 10 year mandate from the United Nations. My father went there in 1946 as a legal advisor to that administration. In 1951 the UN sent a team to Eritrea to determine whether they wanted independence or federation with Ethiopia. My father was an observer and I accompanied him. He told me, years later, that it was a done deal and that federation had been promised the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie so he could have access to the sea.

My father was asked to stay at his post in Asmara by the Ethiopians when federation was completed. He remained their chief advisor till he retired in July 1973. By then there was a mounting movement for independence. Two groups set up, the ELF and EPLF. The later joined forces with the movement in Ethiopia fighting the dictator Mengistu Haile Miriam and the promise was made to give Eritrea its independence if the coalition won. Well, they did and Eritrea became independent in 1991.

The leader of the EPLF Isaias Afewerki became the first president. He had, during the years of fighting, promised a full democracy in Eritrea. However, like so many African leaders he quickly built up an internal spy system that would make the Stazi proud, started intimidating any opposition and has ended up as a thorough-going Maoist dictator. He imprisons anyone who talks out against him and the democracy he promised and led his followers to believe in has vanished. Before he came to power he spoke out in favour of a free press and immediately after independence Eritrea boasted a number of new and free newspapers. Most of their journalists now languish in prison. Only the state media is allowed and any reader of the official Eritrean web site will instantly recognise simplistic, boring, repetitive praise for the President and various comities.

I still have contacts there and when on the phone I can't ask any questions relating to politics because the phones are tapped. Afawerki has turned a land of promise into the tragedy we see there today, where hundreds of his fellow Eritreans will do anything to escape the country. He is a brutal man and he is brutalising his people. All the deaths over the past ten to fifteen years can be laid squarely at his feet.

My book Dear Chips gives a vivid picture of sleepy Eritrea before the war for independence. A really good factual read on Eritrea during and after the war is I Didn't Do It For You by Michela Wrong, ISBN 0-00-715095-4.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Bashar Hafez al-Assad


Assad has a bad name in the West, why, what has he ever done to the West?

The main reason is that he is a friend of the east, namely Russia and China, not to mention the rogue state, Iran.

However, there is another way of looking at Assad and his family. Before his father came to power in Syria it was a failed state. It gained its independence in 1946 and by 1956 it had had 20 different governments and four constitutions. Army coups were the order of the day and sectarianism was rife. These changes of government were all by the military or security forces, they being the only ones well enough armed and organised to overthrow a government and then keep some semblance of order. During this period Russia was asked to give aid which it gladly did and gained a strategic foot hold in the Arab world although it was already heavily into aiding Egypt following the Suez debacle.

Chaos reigned in the country between 1956 and 1966. The influence of Russia and Egypt's Nasser brought about the political union of Syria with Egypt in what became the United Arab Republic. This was never going to work as one country always tries to dominate the other and the Syrians who felt Egypt was overbearing, broke away after a coup in 1961. The Ba'ath party, which was formed in 1947, one of many, gradually grew in influence until 1963 when it engineered a coup. From then on it was the only party allowed in Syria, all others were banned.

Crises, including arguments with the UN and Israel, and the Black September débâcle with Jordan led to a further coup by the Minister of Defence, Hafez al-Assad in November 1970.

From there to the present outbreak of hostilities resulting in the fully blown civil war, there has been relative peace in Syria. Hafez steadied the ship, brought in reforms, mainly socialist in nature, kept a tight rein on the armed forces and was able to establish peace throughout the country. I drove right round Syria in 1977 visiting Roman ruins and other sites of interest with my wife and two children and we had a great time and were treated very kindly by the local population wherever we were. It was a land of peace where all communities lived cheek by jowl and got on. Yes, Hafez was a hard man but he needed to be because of the diversity of the Syrian population. When he died in 2000 Syria had had its longest period of peace since the Second World War.

Bashar al-Assad, who was Hafez's second son, took over from his father. He is a Western educated, sophisticated and very clever man. However, as the top man in Syria he quickly realised that to rule that country he would have to act like his father. So he did. He is an Arab hard man like Hafez. His military forces are equipped and trained by the Russians as they have been since the 60s. He is a dictator which is why the West does not like him but Arabs and democracy are not happy bedfellows. Look at what has happened to the 'Arab Spring', it has been a catastrophe in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. A smooth and untroubled move from dictatorship to democracy is impossible and these states have proved it. Whilst there are many Arabs who lean towards a secular government there are still more religious fanatics, or jihadists, who want to impose their particular form of Islam and this includes Sharia law which is anathema to all those who don't.

Jihadists have the upper hand in all the Arab spring countries and are heading that way in Syria too. Whilst the West's dislike of Assad forces them to support his opponents they shy away from admitting that, in fact, the jihadists have the upper hand and should the war be lost by Assad it is they that will gain power. Then what we will have is another hard line government but it will be either Sunni or Shia and all others will suffer including and especially the Christian enclaves in Syria which have survived since the time of Christ. Will the West then go to their aid? I don't think so. That would be interfering in the internal affairs of another state – how ironic. The West needs to be careful of what it wishes for.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Zimbabwe

What a sad place Zimbabwe now is. When I lived there back in the 60s, Rhodesia, as it then was, was a thriving country, the breadbasket of southern Africa. Everybody had enough to eat and it had a thriving economy based on mining, small manufacturing and exports of raw materials and food. Yes the best farms were all white owned and yes there was a white only government but the constitution that was in force, certainly whilst Garfield Todd was prime minister, allowed local Africans to gain the vote when they reached certain educational or financial levels. Had this system progressed slowly as was envisaged the Africans would have gained a majority, it was calculated, in about 50 years. That would have been about now and it would have happened peacefully and in a manner where true democracy would have prevailed.

There were at the time two main African parties, Z.A.N.U. and Z.A.P.U. Unfortunately they were split down tribal lines. This has been a problem for most emerging African countries. They were, and in most cases still do consist of tribes that truly disliked each other but were banded together by their white masters in the nineteenth century. The colonialists drew the boundaries to suite themselves without any consideration for the local inhabitants.

When Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, Mugabe won out and he was the leader of ZANU and that was the party of the Shona tribe. They were the main tribe inhabiting the eastern half of the country. ZAPU, on the other hand, were mainly Matabele, an off shoot of the Zulu tribe, who inhabited the western pert of the country. Historically the Matabele had always looked upon the Shona as a subject people who were there to be raided as and when they needed more cattle or women. The enmity between the two tribes was palpable even when I was there.

When Mugabe came to power he used his army and police force to literally wipe out all opposition in Matabeleland and many thousands of Matabeles were murdered. ZAPU was banned and he made quite sure that any inkling of opposition was crushed before it had a chance to be a force. Since he came to power all the elections have been rigged, mainly by violence and intimidation. The last election was done in a very clever way. It probably was the most peaceful since he came to power so that most of the observers would be fooled. What he did was to add over 200,000 voters to the roll whose birth dates indicated that they were over 100 years old, a practical impossibility. But it has had the effect of making the old man look legitimate and his African neighbours, who sent observers, were quick to accept the results.

So Zimbabwe remains a sad country. The biggest diamond mine is run by the Chinese who employ virtually no locals and pay Mugabe directly. Nearly all the white owned farms have been given to Mugabe cronies, without compensation. They know nothing about farming but want the prestige of owning the land. Furthermore, they have moved all the local workers off the farms, in case they still held loyalties to their former masters, creating massive unemployment and severe hardship. Mugabe has brought a once prosperous country to its knees. He has no care for the majority of his people who live in great poverty. Added to all this he is a racist but nobody seems willing to say so openly. Many of the white Rhodesians, born and bred there took Zimbabwean citizenship hoping that all would be well for them. The old dictator promised that it would be when he came to power. However, his Africanisation process means that all businesses must be run by Zimbabweans, black ones, not white. White Zimbabweans along with Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of what little open opposition there is, can 'go hang'.