Statement on the Situation in Zimbabwe

August 2001

For the past two years, The Hunger Project has closely followed the land reform controversy in Zimbabwe, and the resulting violence and decline in Zimbabwe’s food production. It must be recalled that The Hunger Project awarded the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger to President Mugabe in 1988. From the time he had taken power in 1980 up to the awarding in 1988, Robert Mugabe had clearly and indisputably taken actions worthy of the Prize. His actions to improve education, health and food production, and to empower small-scale farmers, were models for all of Africa. However, cognizant of our responsibility for the Africa Prize, The Hunger Project would like to make our views known on the current situation. This is particularly pertinent, in that the Africa Prize honors not only what a leader has already accomplished, but also what he or she will accomplish in the future. Even though land reform was on the agenda of the government of Zimbabwe in 1988, the issue was not resolved in the subsequent decade. Today we witness actions being taken which violate all norms of democratic process and human rights – two clear requisites for broad-based progress in ending hunger. Zimbabwe’s social and economic indicators – once far better than its neighbors – are now declining, largely due to violence and instability caused by seizure of land without due process or compensation. Wheat production, for example, dropped 30% in 2000. The Hunger Project wishes to state that it deplores policies that have resulted in increased unemployment, poverty and hunger in Zimbabwe. This situation is inconsistent with the spirit of the Africa Prize for Leadership and Zimbabwe’s need to work for the sustainable end of hunger.