The involvement of Zimbabwe meant that all the available foreign reserves got pumped into that war, and the results were felt very quickly. the drugs in the hospitals were running out, petrol was unavailable, and the first violent demonstrations against the Government started in the capital city of Harare. In this situation, in the year 2000, the Parliamentary elections were around the corner. With the shortages of virtually everything looming, the opposition party managed to gain broad support amongst the population, thus threatening [Mugabe’s] parliamentary majority.
In this situation, Mugabe, declared the land question, the most important question, and he took action by sending his war veterans, and a lot or people who he picked up on the street unemployed onto those farms. They were paid by the Government to stay on the farms and drive the owners out. Certainly not the most democratic way of doing a land reform, and as it was in Zimbabwe, it turned out to be the most disastrous way because the production fell and it has fallen down now to unbelievable levels.
There are droughts in Zimbabwe all of the time in certain parts of the country, but with irrigation and other means of yielding crops, it was always possible to sustain the population. We have now a situationwhere only 40 per cent of the fertile land that has been taken away from the white farmers is utilised, and the yield on this land is poor, because the government is not supplying the new farmers with implements, with credits or with fertilisers.
Coming back to my own situation in Zimbabwe. I was getting more and more critical about what Robert Mugabe was doing. The involvment in Congo was costing a lot of lives of soldiers, and I found that out because some of my patients were soldiers.
The Government tried to put that under the carpet. The soldiers were hastily buried somewhere. The relatives were told not to mention anything about it, and the drugs situation in the hospital deteriorated to a situation where no effective cancer treatment was possible any more, and that was the point where in the year 2000, I left the country.
Hand in hand, the suppression, the observation of people who were critical, was increasing all the time. I was never a member of the opposition party, because as an expatriate its not my duty to get involved in politics in a country that offers me hospitality, and a chance to work there, but I could see that people were beaten up, killed, just because they were not agreeing with the Government.