Links with Africa better than aid 2

July 8, 2005

More detailed analysis is needed about what happens to starry-eyed returners when African governments go bad.

Zimbabwe makes a good case study. Five years ago, few Zimbabweans lived in exile, self-imposed or otherwise. Almost 100 per cent of those who had fled the Smith regime returned in the early 1980s, after independence. Today, about 3.5 million Zimbabweans, most of them academically qualified (only about 1.5 per cent of whom are white), live in other countries because of its ruinous economic policies and persecution of dissent.

In 1982, when I returned, Z$20,000 - one and a half year's gross salary for a senior research fellow - was worth £10,000 and could buy a four-bedroom bungalow. Today, this sum represents, say, the fixed monthly pension of a recently retired school teacher. It is worth just over £1 - that lucky pensioner could use all Z$20,000 to buy a couple of loaves of bread.

Martin Udwin
Cardiff University

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