Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pray for Zimbabwe

Excerpted from the NY Times this morning:

Zimbabwe Devalues Currency; $10,000,000,000 Now $1
Filed at 10:27 a.m. ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe will drop 10 zeros from its hyper-inflated currency -- turning 10 billion dollars into one -- the country's reserve bank said Wednesday. President Robert Mugabe threatened a state of emergency if businesses profiteer from the country's economic and political unraveling.

Shop shelves are empty and there are chronic shortages of everything including medication, food, fuel, power and water. Eighty percent of the work force is unemployed and many who do have jobs don't earn enough to pay for bus fare.

One third of Zimbabweans have become economic and political refugees. Another third is dependent on foreign food aid. But Mugabe barred non-governmental organizations from handing out food last month, claiming they were supporting the opposition.


Mugabe has blamed profiteering and sanctions by the United States and the European Union for Zimbabwe's economic collapse. Critics have blamed mismanagement by Mugabe's government and a land reform program that has slashed Zimbabwe's agricultural output.


Mugabe went on television just as South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki was jetting in to meet with him about stalled power-sharing talks. Mbeki was greeted by Mugabe at Harare airport Wednesday afternoon. The two shook hands and briefly embraced before leaving together.

Mbeki has insisted the power-sharing talks which started last Thursday were going well and had simply adjourned on Monday.

But several officials said Mugabe's negotiators returned home and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai went to South Africa, the venue of the talks, after they deadlocked over who would lead the ''inclusive'' government under negotiation. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because all parties agreed to a media blackout surrounding the talks.


Mugabe and Tsvangirai, bitter rivals, met for the first time in 10 years last week and agreed to have their negotiators hammer out a formula to share power and halt the southern African nation's political and economic disaster. The talks came after three months of state-sponsored electoral violence that killed more than 150 opposition activists, injured thousands of people and drove tens of thousands from torched homes.

Both men say they won elections this year and should lead the government.

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