FEB 10, 07. Zimbabwe,
(formerly Southern Rhodesia) was once one of Africa’s most prosperous
economies. Today President Robert Mugabe’s 27-year regime is facing a
meltdown. The economy is collapsing. The army and police forces are
disintegrating. Along with a wave of strikes and power black-outs, the
country is experiencing a breakdown of every essential service.
Water treatment plants
are collapsing, and cholera has broken out.
Inflation is running at
nearly 1,600%. There’s tension on the streets, as so many people are out of
work. The jobless rate is 80%.
Children have stopped
going to school because they cannot pay fees. Many teachers are not
attending classes as their take-home pay is not enough for transport fares
to get to work.
The bankrupt regime
continues to print money to stay alive, but this only fuels further
inflation. Every pay rise is wiped out within a few weeks.
hospitals are crippled by a two month strike among junior doctors, who earn
next to nothing. Soldiers, while better paid than teachers or nurses, are
also enduring “desperate” conditions. Most earn less than $1 per day. Even
the Presidential Guard, which has higher salaries, is also disgruntled.
Life expectancy for men
is 37 years, and 34 for women. Infant mortality rate is 60 per 1000 live
births. 20% of the adult population has HIV/AIDS.
Corruption abounds. Senior members in the ruling Zanu-PF party are able to
buy US dollars from the Reserve Bank and then sell them on the black market
at a 2,000% markup. They can also buy fuel from the state at one twelfth of
the market price. Magube keeps this wealthy handful happy, and relies on the
army and police to suppress challenges.