It looks as if no one has lived here for years. Tall, dense elephant grass grows everywhere. There is a rutted track that passes a nearly empty dam where a truck has broken down and been left to its own fate. Sheds and barns for curing tobacco are deserted. Gates hang open and there is scant fencing. A fallen tree lies across the track. The only sign of activity is a flock of sheep owned by a neighbouring white farmer who leases the unused grazing. This is the farm of Francis Nhema, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment, who became chairman of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development last month. He occupied Nyamanda farm, just south of the small town of Karoi in northern Zimbabwe in 2003, a year after its owner, Chris Shepherd, and his family were driven out by lawless ruling party militias. On its 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres), Mr Shepherd had planted 80 hectares of high-grade tobacco and 200 hectares of maize. Cattle grazed on 300 hectares. Last year Mr Nhema managed three hectares of tobacco and ten hectares of maize. “This year there is nothing,” said a former farm security guard, who asked to remain anonymous. “There is a small patch of soya beans. The rest is weeds. The whole 1,000 hectares are weeds.”This is the status of Zimbabwe, the country of the UN's development expert Nhema:
— Zimbabwe's maize production fell 74% between 1999 and 2004 — The national cattle herd shrank by 90% and production of flue-cured tobacco fell from 237m kg (233,200 tons) to 70m kg — Real GDP per capita dropped 46.2% between 1998 and 2005 — Average wage $760 annually, the same in purchasing power terms as the Southern Rhodesian in 1953 — The UN says that 4.1 million people in the southern provinces face serious food shortages at the start of 2008 Sources: Centre for Global Development; UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office; CIA World Factbook; Times archiveAnd the UN is making you, the US taxpayer, pay for this incompetence.