Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Challenge of Zimbabwe

The rate of inflation in Zimbabwe jumped to just over 11,250,000% in June, official figures show. It gained 9,035,045.5 percentage points from the May rate of 2,233,713.4%," according to the Central Statistical Office (CSO). Many experts believe the actual rate of inflation may be much higher. Zimbabwe is in the midst of a dire economic crisis with unemployment at almost 80%, most manufacturing at a halt and basic foods in short supply.

Zimbabwe, once one of the richest countries in Africa, has descended into economic chaos largely because of the policies of President Mugabe. Mr. Mugabe has denied he is ruining the economy, laying the blame instead on international sanctions he says have been imposed against Zimbabwe. In particular, he blames Britain and claims that the secret intent of the UK Government is to return to colonialism. This at a time when independence for Scotland is looking more likely and when the UK’s role on the global stage is minuscule.

Meantime, there is no deal between Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC opposition and Mr. Mugabe to form some sort of Government of National Unity, to steer Zimbabwe out of the crisis. Mugabe refuses to give up executive powers, which is a preconditioning for power sharing. While the MDC is willing to share cabinet positions with Zanu-PF, Tsvangirai insists on being the executive head of the Government as Prime Minister. Quite right too.

So now we wait. Wait until someone changes their stance or Mr. Mugabe cuts a deal with a breakaway faction, which he is threatening to do. He will do anything to stay in power. What is difficult about all this is to watch ordinary people suffer while a very proud man seeks to feather his nest and protect himself from charges of war crimes.

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