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How Bad Is Inflation in Zimbabwe?

docta seuss

TRIBE Member
NY Times


HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 25 — How bad is inflation in Zimbabwe? Well, consider this: at a supermarket near the center of this tatterdemalion capital, toilet paper costs $417.

No, not per roll. Four hundred seventeen Zimbabwean dollars is the value of a single two-ply sheet. A roll costs $145,750 — in American currency, about 69 cents.

The price of toilet paper, like everything else here, soars almost daily, spawning jokes about an impending better use for Zimbabwe's $500 bill, now the smallest in circulation.

But what is happening is no laughing matter. For untold numbers of Zimbabweans, toilet paper — and bread, margarine, meat, even the once ubiquitous morning cup of tea — have become unimaginable luxuries. All are casualties of the hyperinflation that is roaring toward 1,000 percent a year, a rate usually seen only in war zones.

Zimbabwe has been tormented this entire decade by both deep recession and high inflation, but in recent months the economy seems to have abandoned whatever moorings it had left. The national budget for 2006 has already been largely spent. Government services have started to crumble.

The purity of Harare's drinking water, siphoned from a lake downstream of its sewer outfall, has been unreliable for months, and dysentery and cholera swept the city in December and January. The city suffers rolling electrical blackouts. Mounds of uncollected garbage pile up on the streets of the slums.

Zimbabwe's inflation is hardly history's worst — in Weimar Germany in 1923, prices quadrupled each month, compared with doubling about once every three or four months in Zimbabwe. That said, experts agree that Zimbabwe's inflation is currently the world's highest, and has been for some time.

Public-school fees and other ever-rising government surcharges have begun to exceed the monthly incomes of many urban families lucky enough to find work. The jobless — officially 70 percent of Zimbabwe's 4.2 million workers, but widely placed at 80 percent when idle farmers are included — furtively hawk tomatoes and baggies of ground corn from roadside tables, an occupation banned by the police since last May.

Those with spare cash put it not in banks, which pay a paltry 4 to 10 percent annual interest on savings, but in gilt-edged investments like bags of corn meal and sugar, guaranteed not to lose their value.

"There's a surrealism here that's hard to get across to people," Mike Davies, the chairman of a civic-watchdog group called the Combined Harare Residents Association, said in an interview. "If you need something and have cash, you buy it. If you have cash you spend it today, because tomorrow it's going to be worth 5 percent less.

"Normal horizons don't exist here. People live hand to mouth."

President Robert G. Mugabe has responded to the hardship in two ways.

Although there is no credible threat to his 26-year rule, Zimbabwe's political opposition is calling for mass protests against the economic situation. So Mr. Mugabe has tightened his grip on power even further, turning the economy over to a national security council of his closest allies. In addition, he has seeded the government's civilian ministries this year with loyal army and intelligence officers who now control key functions, from food security to tax collection.

At the same time, Mr. Mugabe's government has printed trillions of new Zimbabwean dollars to keep ministries functioning and to shield the salaries of key supporters — and potential enemies — against further erosion. Supplemental spending proposed early in April would increase the 2006 spending limits approved last November by fully 40 percent, and more such emergency spending measures are all but certain before the year ends.

On Friday, the government said it would triple the salaries of 190,000 soldiers and teachers. But even those government workers still badly trail inflation; the best of the raises, to as much as $33 million a month, already are slightly below the latest poverty line for the average family of five.

This will only worsen inflation, for printing too many worthless dollars is in part what got Zimbabwe into this mess to begin with. Zimbabwe fell into hyperinflation after the government began seizing commercial farms in about 2000. Foreign investors fled, manufacturing ground to a halt, goods and foreign currency needed to buy imports fell into short supply and prices shot up.

Inflation, about 400 percent per year last November, edged over 600 percent in January, but began to soar after the government revealed that it had paid the International Monetary Fund $221 million to cover an arrears that threatened Zimbabwe's membership in the organization.

In February, the government admitted that it had printed at least $21 trillion in currency — and probably much more, critics say — to buy the American dollars with which the debt was paid.

By March, inflation had touched 914 percent a year, at which rate prices would rise more than tenfold in 12 months. Experts agree that quadruple-digit inflation is now a certainty.


In the midst of this craziness, some Harare enclaves seem paradoxically normal. North of downtown, where diplomats and aid workers are financed with American dollars, and generators and bottled water are the norm, the cafes still serve cappuccino and the markets sell plump roasting chickens, albeit $1 million chickens.

Everywhere else, the hardship is inescapable.

In Glen Norah, a dense suburb of thousands of tiny homes southwest of the city, 58-year-old Ayina Musoni and her divorced daughter Regai, 26, share their five-room house with Regai's two children and three lodgers. The lodgers, two security guards and a teacher, pay monthly rent totaling $3 million, or about $14.25 in American money.

Ms. Musoni's latest monthly bill for services from the Harare city government was $2.4 million. The refrigerator in her closet-size kitchen is empty except for a few bottles of boiled water. Christmas dinner was sadza, or corn porridge, with hard-boiled eggs. For Easter, there was nothing.

Mother and daughter make as much as $10 in American money each week by selling vegetables, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. But the profits are being consumed by rising costs at the farmers' market where they buy stock. "Like potatoes," Regai said. "I went last week, and it was $500,000 for a packet. And when I went this weekend, it was $700,000.

Millions of Zimbabweans survive these days on the kindness of outsiders — foreigners who donate food or medicine and, more important, family members who have fled the nation for better lives abroad.

As many as three million Zimbabweans now live elsewhere, usually in Britain, South Africa or the United States. An economist here, John Robertson, estimates that they remit as much as $50 million a month to their families — the equivalent of one sixth of the gross domestic product.

Ms. Musoni's is not a hard-luck story; in Harare, most people now live this way, or worse. Indeed, life for many may be better in the nation's impoverished rural areas, where subsistence farming is the only industry and millions of people are guaranteed free monthly rations from the United Nations and other donors. In the cities, little is free.

Unity Motize, 64, lives with her 65-year-old husband, Simeon, in Highfield, a middle-class suburb turned slum not far south of town. The couple occupies one room of their three-room house. The second sleeps two sons, their wives and their two infants, all left homeless last May after riot police bulldozed the homes of hundreds of thousands of slum-dwellers. A 23-year-old son and an unemployed daughter sleep in the living room.

Hyperinflation is a cradle-to-grave experience here. The government recently announced that the price of childbirth, now $7 million, would rise 463 percent by October. Funeral costs are to double over the same period.

In rural areas, said one official of a foreign-based charity who declined to be named, fearing consequences from the government, even the barest funeral costs at least $6 million, or about $28.50 — well beyond most families' means. The dead are buried in open fields at night, she said. Recently, she watched one family dismantle their home's cupboard to construct a makeshift coffin.

"I'll never forget that," she said. "The incredible sadness of it all."

Critics say that Zimbabwe's rulers are oblivious to such suffering — last year, Mr. Mugabe completed his own 25-bedroom mansion in a gated suburb north of town, close by the mansions of top ministers and military allies.

But the government says it has a plan to revive the economy. That plan, the latest of perhaps seven in 10 years, would quickly raise billions of American dollars to end a chronic foreign currency shortage, cut the inflation rate to double digits by year's end and an end to the recession that has gripped Zimbabwe, halving its economic output, since 1999.

Mr. Robertson, the economist, says that is unlikely. Zimbabweans can and probably will endure greater hardship, he says. As a whole, the nation has only now sunk to standards common elsewhere in Africa. But the government may have reached the limit of its ability to do anything about it. Cutting spending seems impossible, and raising taxes further is unthinkable.

That leaves one option: "much more inflation," he said. "Because this government is always going to be printing its way out of its current difficulty."
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Mugabe is a thug prick! This guy has lead my list of leaders that need to be removed from power and shot for some time. With so many mercs for hire in south africa this dude should be dead. Hell if anyone can find someone to do it I'll pay the first grand myself.
 

Gizmo

TRIBE Member
While Mugabe and the cronies he surrounds himself with are total whack jobs, the fact that the UK has virtually completely reneged on the financial aid provisions of the Lancaster House Agreement that it signed, has been a big contributing factor to the problems there.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
the zimbabwe type of runaway inflation from corrupt governments printing money for jokes is the tip of the iceberg and is happening in smaller but still disturbing amounts across the world.

diminished economic activity + inflationary pressues = big emergency (said in sly persian accent)
 
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2canplay

TRIBE Member
Gizmo said:
While Mugabe and the cronies he surrounds himself with are total whack jobs, the fact that the UK has virtually completely reneged on the financial aid provisions of the Lancaster House Agreement that it signed, has been a big contributing factor to the problems there.

...
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
2canplay said:


I've been reading up on it and its typical pain in ass. The brits share no shortage of blame for there actions and there lack of fullfilling financial obligations. However calling it land redistribution when the majority of the land goes to Mugabe cronies wouldn't be an easy pill to swallow.

I just really think this guy is a parasite on humanities ass. If I had one bullet and it was Bush or Mugabe I think we'd be seeing Bush walk away alive.
 

2canplay

TRIBE Member
OK Ditto, but I'm trying to say that the problem is bigger than Mugabe. If New President Yamoah comes to power tomorrow, is as uncorruptable at the Pope (haha) sacks everyone in a senior post in the government, re-establushes connections tomorrow with the IMF and the G8, finds 100 million barrells of oil and re-established "traditional" property protection...Zimbabwe would still be an unbelievable mess...

The problem is far greater than Robert Mugabe. Robert Mugabe was a true patriot who liberated the country and tried his fucking best to make it work for 15 years. He and Zimbabwe were systematically raped. Nothing new, but please don't simplify the situation by suggesting that Africa's problems are merely due to Cronyism. Its insulting.

You were probably one of the scumbags who suggested Nelson Mandela was corrupt after his wife was caught pilfering, weren't you? Fucker. People like you piss me off.

:mad:

----------------------------------------------

It's all good dude. I just don't like Yanks.
 

2canplay

TRIBE Member
OK Ditto, but I'm trying to say that the problem is bigger than Mugabe. If New President Yamoah comes to power tomorrow, is as uncorruptable at the Pope (haha) sacks everyone in a senior post in the government, re-establushes connections tomorrow with the IMF and the G8, finds 100 million barrells of oil and re-established "traditional" property protection...Zimbabwe would still be an unbelievable mess...

The problem is far greater than Robert Mugabe. Robert Mugabe was a true patriot who liberated the country and tried his fucking best to make it work for 15 years. He and Zimbabwe were systematically raped. Nothing new, but please don't simplify the situation by suggesting that Africa's problems are merely due to Cronyism. Its insulting.

You were probably one of the scumbags who suggested Nelson Mandela was corrupt after his wife was caught pilfering, weren't you? Fucker. People like you piss me off.

:mad:

----------------------------------------------

It's all good dude. I just don't like Yanks.
:D
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
2canplay said:
You were probably one of the scumbags who suggested Nelson Mandela was corrupt after his wife was caught pilfering, weren't you? Fucker. People like you piss me off.


Nah didn't much have an issue with it, a certain amount of it keeps things moving along I really don't expect %100, and I actually really appreciated the method of the South African transition with all its warts and all.

The problem is far greater than Robert Mugabe. Robert Mugabe was a true patriot who liberated the country and tried his fucking best to make it work for 15 years. He and Zimbabwe were systematically raped. Nothing new, but please don't simplify the situation by suggesting that Africa's problems are merely due to Cronyism. Its insulting.

Oh it is but Mugabe has been one of the greatest pain in the asses out there and I long since hit my limit on him. Patriot or not he's a thug dictator who has used violence and cronies to exploit his people to no end. This isn't a pro us or uk stance its anti Mugabe at any price.
 
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Boo

TRIBE Member
2canplay said:
OK Ditto, but I'm trying to say that the problem is bigger than Mugabe. If New President Yamoah comes to power tomorrow, is as uncorruptable at the Pope (haha) sacks everyone in a senior post in the government, re-establushes connections tomorrow with the IMF and the G8, finds 100 million barrells of oil and re-established "traditional" property protection...Zimbabwe would still be an unbelievable mess...

The problem is far greater than Robert Mugabe. Robert Mugabe was a true patriot who liberated the country and tried his fucking best to make it work for 15 years. He and Zimbabwe were systematically raped. Nothing new, but please don't simplify the situation by suggesting that Africa's problems are merely due to Cronyism. Its insulting.

You were probably one of the scumbags who suggested Nelson Mandela was corrupt after his wife was caught pilfering, weren't you? Fucker. People like you piss me off.

:mad:

----------------------------------------------

It's all good dude. I just don't like Yanks.

In the same post you say you don't like the yanks,, and also claim that Mugabe is a patriot because he stood up to his country systematically raped by... the Brits.

And yet America was founded by British decendants who fought against Imperial rule by the British to become free - a nation of patriots. Canada was founded by those who fought against their neighbours and tried to keep Imperial rule of the British Empire in America, but lost the war and had to flee to Canada.

And you salute mugabe for striving for Independance and hate against a country that won their own independance, all from a country that shows its pride in Imperial rule?

odd.

If I had 1 bullet for bush or mugabe - I'd keep the bullet and beat mugabe with a stick, and sell the bullet for 500 grand in Zimbabwe. Fucker doesn't deserve any kind of 'patriot' status for the kind of genocide and oppression he has against his own people.
 

atbell

TRIBE Member
Boo said:
And yet America was founded by British decendants who fought against Imperial rule by the British to become free - a nation of patriots. Canada was founded by those who fought against their neighbours and tried to keep Imperial rule of the British Empire in America, but lost the war and had to flee to Canada.

Canada existed long before the loyalists moved North. It's in Canada's history to accept and tolerate those who are pacifists and routinely seem to be chased out of the US. The loyalists were some of the first, the blacks aboard the underground railway came next, people who liked a drink or two with dinner came in the prohibition years so they didn't need to buy from criminals, and draft dodgers came mid century to avoid going to die overseas. It shouldn't be long now before another flight takes place.

It's also noteworthy that Canada did not need to fight to become free.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
atbell said:
It's also noteworthy that Canada did not need to fight to become free.


No we just had to put on uniforms and die in trenches under british rule in europe for half a decade to be considered free.

Yes we may not have had a war with our founding nations or with ourselves however we had a great history of being body count for the brits and finally they were broke enough that they couldn't do anything about us leaving.
 

2canplay

TRIBE Member
Boo said:
In the same post you say you don't like the yanks,, and also claim that Mugabe is a patriot because he stood up to his country systematically raped by... the Brits.

And yet America was founded by British decendants who fought against Imperial rule by the British to become free - a nation of patriots. Canada was founded by those who fought against their neighbours and tried to keep Imperial rule of the British Empire in America, but lost the war and had to flee to Canada.

And you salute mugabe for striving for Independance and hate against a country that won their own independance, all from a country that shows its pride in Imperial rule?

odd.

If I had 1 bullet for bush or mugabe - I'd keep the bullet and beat mugabe with a stick, and sell the bullet for 500 grand in Zimbabwe. Fucker doesn't deserve any kind of 'patriot' status for the kind of genocide and oppression he has against his own people.

The "I don't like Yanks" comment was toungue in cheek meant for Ditto, cause he moved to the U.S.

Eh, are you a simpleton too???
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
2canplay said:
The "I don't like Yanks" comment was toungue in cheek meant for Ditto, cause he moved to the U.S.


It was kind of funny, couple of weeks ago I drove up to Toronto. I realized that I could cut people off, drive like an asshole, roll down my window and scream the dirtiest shit ever out at the 14 year old girls at the corner. It was great the ruder and worse I got the more pissed off people got, and then I'd drive away they'd see the Nebraska plates and scream FUCKING AMERICANS!!!!

In three days of driving I probably created more hate of Americans in Toronto then even the Bush administration has been able to accomplish. Last night I was sitting at the local watering hole trying to get into the bar tenders pants when this girl walked in. She didn't know English and to make matters worse she was a deaf mute. We tried to call the transit company to help find out which bus/busses she needed but unfortunately we found out she was basically screwed. So I opted to give her a ride home which was really trippy because basically she just pointed where she wanted to go. So I dropped her off and on the pad of paper I had she wrote "Sudan" to which I smiled and wrote "Canada" and she laughed.

Yes in Canada I act like an American to spread hate, in the USA I act like a nice guy and make sure everyone knows I'm not American. I tell you that defines being Canadian right there.


As an aside the more longer I stay in the USA the more I hate the fucking French.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Zimbabwe: The destruction of Porta Farm

before
porta_before_wide_crop.jpg


after
porta_after_wide_crop.jpg



Human rights group Amnesty International (AI) on Wednesday released the first-ever satellite images of the effect of the Zimbabwean government's controversial Operation Murambatsvina, which left 700 000 people homeless last year, according to a United Nations report. (Via: http://www.mg.co.za/)
 

Colm

TRIBE Member
atbell said:
It's also noteworthy that Canada did not need to fight to become free.

You're right, instead we were 'given freedom' by a drunken Scot and his meglomaniacal buddies.
 
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