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To say that Zimbabwe has not had much luck with its monetary system experiments, would be an understatement.
After its disastrous adventures with hyperinflation denominated in its own currency…
… Zimbabwe decided to entirely abandon its reserve currency and shift to the dollar.
With a line-up that includes Drew Barrymore, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, and Ricky Martin, the UN’s choice of ambassadors has been known to cause raised eyebrows or the odd smirk.
Seldom, however, has there been such anger, or questioning of the organisation’s credibility, as that greeting the appointment of a new international envoy for tourism: Robert Mugabe.
Improbable as it seems, the Zimbabwean president, who is widely accused of ethnic cleansing, rigging elections, terrorising opposition, controlling media and presiding over a collapsed economy, has been endorsed as a champion of efforts to boost global holidaymaking.
Despite that fact Mugabe, 88, is under a travel ban, he has been honoured as a “leader for tourism” by the UN’s World Tourism Organisation, along with his political ally, Zambian president Michael Sata, 75. The pair signed an agreement with UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai at their shared border at Victoria Falls on Tuesday.
It is the 85th birthday of President Mugabe this month and the zealots of his Zanu (PF) party are determined that it should be an occasion that their great leader will never forget.
In recent days they have been out soliciting “donations” from corporate Zimbabwe and have drawn up a wish list that is scarcely credible in a land where seven million citizens survive on international food aid, 94 per cent are jobless and cholera rampages through a population debilitated by hunger.
The list includes 2,000 bottles of champagne (Moët & Chandon or ’61 Bollinger preferred); 8,000 lobsters; 100kg of prawns; 4,000 portions of caviar; 8,000 boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates; 3,000 ducks; and much else besides. A postscript adds: “No mealie meal” – the ground corn staple on which the vast majority of Zimbabweans survived until the country’s collapse rendered even that a luxury.
Johannesburg – “Dead people are better off. They don’t need water or sadza (maize porridge). They’re just lying there nicely in their graves.”
Sitting on the stone floor of her bare home in Harare, a Zimbabwean woman poignantly expresses the desperation of millions of Zimbabweans stalked by starvation and disease.
Dinner for this woman, whose name is not given in the 15-minute film on Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis screened by Solidarity Peace Trust non-governmental organisation in Johannesburg on Tuesday, is a sachet of juice.
In another scene, a mother holds aloft a wailing baby, its eyes swollen shut, the skin peeling off its stubby legs. The baby is severely malnourished.
The images in the film entitled Death of a Nation, which record the slow strangulation of a population by a government hell-bent on retaining power, were taken between September and November this year.
They show a failed state where women in rural areas pick through withered trees for berries to keep their families alive because they can no longer afford a bag of maize meal.
And families telling of how they spent the day holding up a drip in an overcrowded clinic for a relative infected with cholera only to watch them die for lack of medication.
Over half Zimbabwe’s population of 12 million cannot adequately feed itself, stratospheric inflation means a tub of margarine costs US$9.65 and hundreds are dying of cholera, an easily preventable disease.
Zimbabwe’s tragedy defies the world to look away
The townships of suburban Harare once boasted water and sewage systems that were the envy of Africa. They are now as broken as Zimbabwe itself. Raw sewage spills from manhole covers and is pumped into the city’s main reservoir. Thousands depend on the generosity of “water samaritans” lucky enough to have their own boreholes. Where even the poorest had taps and toilets of their own, people are queueing up at hand pumps, one engineer laments. “Civilisation has gone in reverse.”
People are also dying. A cholera outbreak that has killed more than 500 people could infect 60,000 by March, according to Oxfam. The outbreak is spreading four times faster than usual for want of transport to take victims to hospital, and basic medicines for those who get there. To contain the epidemic the Health Minister has advised Zimbabweans to stop shaking hands, but it has already spread to South Africa.
In Zimbabwe’s rural hinterland five million people will soon need food aid that the World Food Programme cannot afford to distribute. The Government is powerless to count the number dying of hunger, much less hand out food itself. But aid workers have seen children foraging in rubbish dumps alongside wild animals, and in Matabeleland one story encapsulates the despair of a nation – the story of a woman who, unable to feed her children, fed them and herself a fruit that she knew was poisonous. They were buried together.
Such are the tragedies that lend meaning to Zimbabwe’s statistics; to its 90 per cent unemployment, its 230 million per cent inflation and its average life expectancy of barely 40 years. In 1990, Zimbabweans could expect to live to 63.
At a bank in Harare, Zimbabwe, this week, the police directed customers trying to withdraw their nearly worthless savings. (Associated Press)
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Long before the rooster in their dirt yard crowed, Rose Moyo and her husband rolled out of bed. “It is time to get up,” intoned the robotic voice of her cellphone. Its glowing face displayed the time: 2:20 a.m.
They crept past their children sleeping on the floor of the one-room house – Cinderella, 9, and Chrissie, 10 – and took their daily moonlit stroll to the bank. The guard on the graveyard shift gave them a number. They were the 29th to arrive, all hoping for a chance to withdraw the maximum amount of Zimbabwean currency the government allowed last month – the equivalent of just a dollar or two.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of one of the great hyperinflations in world history. The people of this once proud capital have been plunged into a Darwinian struggle to get by. Many have been reduced to peddlers and paupers, hawkers and black-market hustlers, eating just a meal or two a day, their hollowed cheeks a testament to their hunger.
UN calls for increased farming production to prevent an extra 2 million people becoming reliant on food and medical aid
Almost half the population of Zimbabwe could soon be dependent on food and medical aid, the UN’s humanitarian chief said today.
John Holmes, the UN’s under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, said that around 3 million people were already reliant on aid, and that figure could rise to more than 5 million.
He said it was a critical time because preparations needed to be made now for next year’s harvest to avoid millions more people becoming reliant on aid. The main growing season in Zimbabwe lasts from now until March.
VANCOUVER, B.C. – The U.S. financial crisis has cut so deep – and the government has taken on so much debt in misguided attempts to bail out such companies as Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) – that even larger financial shocks are still to come, global investing guru Jim Rogers said in an exclusive interview with Money Morning.
Indeed, the U.S. financial debacle is now so ingrained – and a so-called “Super Crash” so likely – that most Americans alive today won’t be around by the time the last of this credit-market mess is finally cleared away – if it ever is, Rogers said.
This article is also another lesson in racism, which is always a sure sign of absolute ignorance, insecurity and low self-esteem, because racism is attempting to see other people as inferior, so that those “superior” racists can feel better about their wretched, unenlightened little life. ________________________________________________________________________________________
On June 5, 1873, in a letter to The Times, Sir Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin and a distinguished African explorer in his own right, outlined a daring (if by today’s standards utterly offensive) new method to ‘tame’ and colonise what was then known as the Dark Continent.
‘My proposal is to make the encouragement of Chinese settlements of Africa a part of our national policy, in the belief that the Chinese immigrants would not only maintain their position, but that they would multiply and their descendants supplant the inferior Negro race,’ wrote Galton.
‘I should expect that the African seaboard, now sparsely occupied by lazy, palavering savages, might in a few years be tenanted by industrious, order-loving Chinese, living either as a semidetached dependency of China, or else in perfect freedom under their own law.’
Close relations: Chinese President Hu Jintao accompanies Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
The Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Program said in a joint report that an estimated two million people in Zimbabwe will not have enough to eat in the summer months.
That figure is projected to rise to 3.8 million people after September and to about 5.1 million between January and March 2009, as the impact of President Robert Mugabe’s seizure of land from commercial farmers continues to take its toll. The population is just over 12 million people.
The southern African nation is predicted to produce 575,000 tons of its main seasonal crop of maize, a drop of 28 per cent compared with last year, which was already some 44 per cent below 2006 government figures. Other crops are expected to be similarly dented.
“Poverty has increased for the tenth year in a row and there is an annual inflation estimated at 355,000 percent,” said Kisan Gunjal, an FAO food emergency officer who worked on the report. “That is different than any other period in the history of Zimbabwe.”
Tendai Biti faces the death penalty over the allegations of treason
The crackdown on the Opposition in Zimbabwe intensified yesterday with the arrest of its deputy leader on the charge of treason, as he arrived back in the country from a week-long trip to South Africa.
Tendai Biti, the secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was met at Harare airport by five plainclothes officers who handcuffed him and led him to an unknown police station.
The police said that Mr Biti was to be charged with publishing a “treasonous document” outlining MDC plans to return all land seized from white farmers and to dismiss all members of the military and police service if it won the presidential election at the end of this month. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death.
The MDC dismissed the letter as a fake manufactured by the Zimbabwe intelligence services, recalling the purported letter between the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Gordon Brown that the British Embassy denounced as a “crude hoax” last month.