Friday, January 16, 2009

Zimbabwe - Is there a solution?

Just read this article on Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe unveils $100 trillion note ahead of unity talks

ZIMBABWE unveiled a 100 trillion dollar note in the latest grim measure of its staggering economic collapse, heightening the urgency of a new round of unity talks set for next week.

Veteran leader Robert Mugabe and opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai are set to hold talks on Monday with key regional leaders in a bid to salvage a four-month-old unity accord, which has yet to be implemented.

The stalemate over disputed elections last year has only fuelled the economic and humanitarian crisis that has impoverished the country, leaving nearly half the population dependent on food aid as a cholera epidemic sweeps the country.

The Reserve Bank announced in the government mouthpiece Herald newspaper a series of trillion-dollar denominations to keep pace with hyperinflation that has left the once-dynamic economy in tatters.

The new trillion-dollar bill would have been worth about $US300 ($A450) at today's exchange rate on the informal market, where most currency trading now takes place, but the value of the local currency erodes dramatically every day.

The move came just one week after the bank released a series of billion-dollar notes, which already are not worth enough for workers to withdraw their monthly salaries.

Hyper-inflation, starvation, cholera epidemic - what a disaster!

Makes me wonder why Mugabe wants to retain power and Tsvangirai wants to take over.

I can't imagine wanting to be in charge of a country in such a state. Maybe they see themselves as potential saviours? Maybe they want a piece of Zimbabwe's mineral (diamonds, platinum) industries? Anyone got any other ideas?

Regardless of why these men want to lead this country, is it actually possible for a country to come back from these problems? Half the country dependent on food aid, that's a lot of people.

Just checked, according to Wikipedia, the estimated population in Jan 2008 was 13,349,000, giving the country a rating of 170th in population density.

Another "interesting" piece of information in Wikipedia is "Life expectancy at birth for males in Zimbabwe has dramatically declined since 1990 from 60 to 37, among the lowest in the world. Life expectancy for females is even lower at 34 years." (reference cited at source).

If you did become a leader of a country with these issues where would you start in resolving them?