A country in meltdown

There was a story on the front page of this weekend’s Herald Tribune about the fact that inflation in Zimbabwe had now reached 100,000 per cent per annum. The story was accompanied by a picture of lemons for sale in a market with a sign saying "$1,950,000 per kg”.

Back in 2003, a Zimbabwean dollar was worth more than a US dollar. But under Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship, the country started to experience runaway inflation in 2004. When I was in Zimbabwe in September 2006, a cup of coffee cost 800 Zimbabwe dollars. Based on today’s exchange rate, a cup of coffee will now cost over 100,000 dollars.

When I left Zimbabwe, I had a 500 Zimbabwean dollar note left in my wallet, which was then worth a little over two US dollars. Today that note is worthless because it had an expiry date printed on it of 31 December 2007 (Zimbabwe dollars are the only currency that I know of that have expiry dates printed on the notes). But even if it hadn’t expired, it would now be worth less than two cents.

Mugabe has turned a once wealthy country (Southern Rhodesia) into one of the poorest in the world through gross economic mismanagement.

People are dying because there are no medicines. They are starving because there is no food. People’s savings have been wiped out. Over a quarter of the population is living with HIV/AIDS. Infant mortality is more than 50 deaths per thousand live births, and average life expectancy is only 39 years and that is rapidly reducing.

Yet we hardly ever hear anything from the international community condemning Mugabe for his incompetence and atrocious abuses of human rights.

Maybe George W. Bush should have left Saddam Hussein alone and taken out Robert Mugabe instead.

I feel sorry for the poor people of Zimbabwe about what Mugabe has done to them, and even sorrier that few people in the rest of the world seem to care.

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