It’s hard to imagine an economy in worse shape than Zimbabwe’s. The country, which is having a
presidential election on Saturday, was once the bread basket of Africa. Nowadays, few people get to eat bread, even if they have a ton of dough.
The Spar supermarket has bread at only $7
million a loaf. People rush to the shelf duly marked $7 million, but by
the time they reach the till with their hyper-inflated Zimbabwean
dollars, the price is up to $25 million.
That equals just 62 American cents, more than a
teacher makes in a week. "How can we afford to eat that?" a woman
exclaims. Customers leave their loaves at the counter and walk out with
their brick-sized bundles of bank notes, angry and disconsolate. [Link]
Question: What do you call a Zimbabwean man who wins $25 million in the lottery?
Answer: The breadwinner of the family.
President Robert Mugabe has helped drag his country’s economy into the ditch, but he nevertheless hopes to return to office, apparently believing that, even at 84 years of age, he still has enough energy to dig a deeper ditch. "Let’s give him a chance," his supporters seem to be saying. "Twenty-eight years isn’t enough."
But does Mugabe really want to turn things around? He seems to think Zimbabwe is doing well as it is.
Mugabe rarely gives interviews to independent journalists but spoke
for two-and-a half hours to Heidi Holland last December for her book,
Dinner with Mugabe.
She concluded that Mugabe was profoundly
out of touch, surrounded by sycophants too scared to tell him the truth
about the dire state of Zimbabwe.
When Holland suggested that
the economy was in a mess, Mugabe angrily insisted that Zimbabwe was "a
hundred times better" than most African countries.
Africa, what country is like Zimbabwe?" Mugabe said. "Even now. What is
lacking now are goods on the shelves, perhaps, that’s all. But the
infrastructure is there. We have our mines, you see. We have our
Do you know what Americans would do if they went to the grocery store and found the shelves bare? They’d barbecue the president for dinner.
Then again, Mugabe meat may not taste as good as Bushmeat.
Photo by Sokwanele