An AFP report says that “after paying public workers’ salaries last week, the balance in cash-strapped Zimbabwe’s government public account stood at just $217,” according to the country’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti.
“Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 [left] in government coffers,” Biti told journalists in the capital Harare, essentially telling them that each one of them was richer than Zimbabwe.
“The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment. We are failing to meet our targets.”
Zimbabwe’s economy hit rock bottom back in 2000, as a result of President Robert Mugabe seizing of white-owned farms. If there was any confidence on the part of world investors at that juncture, the “liberation” of those farms caused it to evaporate completely. Production was paralyzed, displaced owners started suing for their reparations, and tourism all but stopped.
The country has not recovered. After 13 years of a hyper-inflation of 231 million percent (nothing compares to it in human history) and a collapsing infrastructure — the best one can say is that things are staying as bad as they have been – but no longer getting any worse, either.
That means the country is paralyzed, no one in government knows if they’re getting their next paycheck, utilities, like electricity, are erratic, nothing’s working.
Elections are coming up, but the government is saying it doesn’t have the money to pay for it.
As you may recall, Zimbabwe reached its independence from its white colonialists in 1980, after 26 years of increasing sanctions and boycotts against what used to be known as Rhodesia. It took enormous world effort, and a lot of earnest volunteer work to bring Rhodesia down to its knees. And as the white colonialists were first deprived of their claim to govern, and eventually of their claim to anything at all – Zimbabwe was going into its tailspin.
Robert Mugabe, who won the presidency by a landslide in 1980, still rules, and the country is vying for some nice Europeans—they’ll take Chinese, too—to please come and take over again, through renewed investments.
It’s a lesson of what happens to the folks that nice Europeans and Americans try to save by boycotting the goods made by “their oppressors.” I don’t know of a more surefire way of turning those oppressed totally wretched.