Zimbabwe’s Inflationary Millionaires

Robert MugabeUnder Robert Mugabe decaying dictatorial rule (and catastrophic policies such as the seizing of land from white farmers to be redistributed to Zimbabwean peasants but that actually went to Mugabe’s cronies), Zimbabwe is facing economic collapse. According to the Independent, the government has been forced to issue a 10 million Zimbabwe dollar bank note, the largest denomination bank note in the world.

The crisis, in what was a relatively affluent country at independence in 1980, has produced crippling superinflation of 150,000 per cent and seen at least four million people flee to neighbouring countries. The Z$10m note is the latest indication of economic meltdown. Prices change by the hour and plastic bags full of banknotes are needed to pay for basic goods.

Even though there seem to be signs of contestation against Robert Mugabe from, now 84 and in power for 27 years, from within his own party, he still knows how to manipulate political and diplomatic games: the South Africa Development Community (SADC) sent South African PM MBeki to convince Mugabe to agree to free and fair elections and constitutional reform. As a sign of good faith, opposition groups agreed to limited concessions (such as increasing the size of the Parliament from 60 to 210).

Most of the new parliamentary seats have already been created in Zanu strongholds in the three Mashonaland provinces.

And now, Mugabe has rejected any other reform. Game, set and match. All is not well for Mugabe though. John Simpson, BBC’s World Affair Editor, went undercover to Zimbabwe (the BBC is banned there) and discovered widespread hatred of the aging dictator even within his own party, Zanu PF. And a combination of all three factors might ultimately bring an end to the regime:

A combination of a new and tougher approach by South Africa, the worsening economy, and a palace coup may do the job. But Mugabe is clever and resourceful. Even now, it is too soon to write his political obituary.

In the meantime, it’s a country of queues: people waiting in line for everything as prices double overnight, everyone has to be a millionaire but poverty is widespread and life expectancy is 37 years.

Photo Source: Britannica Concise.

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