Zimbabwe: The Poorest of the Poorest

The citizens of the world's poorest nation - Zimbabwe - found a peculiar method to prolong the life of US dollar notes and increase their purchasing capacity. Special laundry houses were opened in the nation to literally wash the dollar notes with special kinds of soap. To make the clean notes even more attractive, it is possible to press them.

The new service has found very good demand among the Zimbabweans: a clean and crispy US dollar can buy much more than a dirty and wrinkled one.

The national Zimbabwean currency collapsed in the spring of 2009 after the hyperinflation in the country reached the catastrophic level. In 2008, a one-trillion note was issued in Zimbabwe, and people had to stuff up whole sacks with Zimbabwean dollars to be able to buy just a few essential goods.

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Even a trillion-dollar note could not save the Zimbabwean economy. The inflation and the prices were growing almost every minute. For example, the price on one bottle of beer on July 4, 2008 skyrocketed from 100 to 200 billion Zimbabwean dollars in just one day.

Zimbabwean authorities eventually decided to decline from the national currency because the paper, on which the multi million, billion and trillion notes were printed, was more expensive that the actual notes. Hyperinflation increased from 231 million percent in 2008 to 516 trillion percent in 2009.

Nowadays, Zimbabwe uses various currencies of which the US dollars are the most popular ones. The economy of the nation has collapsed together with the currency. The country suffers from the lack of fuel and food. This situation was absolutely out of the question only ten years ago, when Zimbabwe was a major source of food for nearly a third of the whole African continent.

The GDP per capita in Zimbabwe currently makes up $200, which is the lowest in the world. The unemployment level exceeds 94 percent, which makes many Zimbabweans flee to other neighboring states. Three million of the 11.7 million-strong population have already moved to South African Republic.

Sergey Golubev, a specialist for Africa, told Pravda.Ru that it is President Robert Mugabe who is guilty of all the trouble. Mugabe decided to refuse from the market economy model and build African socialism instead.

"Mugabe and his revolutionaries decided to root out colonialism. To put it in a nutshell, he wanted to deprive colonizers of all their property. This is a form of racism . However, the former guerrillas did not take account of the fact that statesmanship was much more than shooting people. The economy of the country collapsed immediately after Mugabe ousted white people from his nation," the expert said.

Zimbabwe became independent in 1980, when revolutionaries came to power. The situation was kept under control until they interfered into economic matters.

The percentage of the white population of Rhodesia, which Zimbabwe was called during the colonial times, was one of the highest in Africa. Over 300,000 white people were residing in Zimbabwe as of the moment when the nation declared independence.

The white population of Zimbabwe was in charge of all key branches of the nation's industry: agriculture, including the tobacco industry, which made Zimbabwe world's third largest tobacco maker, as well as the mining and the processing industries.

In 2000, the new government of the country launched the struggle against the colonizers. Many farms that used to belong to white people were destroyed. Over 90 percent of the white population escaped from the country.

The economy of Zimbabwe began to roll down the hill. The decline started already in 2000 and continues still. Robert Mugabe, the president, called this war against the white population a "land reform." All the agricultural farms and industrial enterprises were handed over from white owners to spokespeople for the native population.

It turned out that the natives had absolutely no knowledge of economy. They were totally incapable of satisfying even their own personal needs. As a result, the majority of enterprises were closed and abandoned.

Mugabe interfered into the civil war in Congo in 1998, which also weakened the Zimbabwean economy. He hardly ever reacted to any criticism from the West. As a result, the West introduced economic sanctions against the state, which struck the final blow against the Zimbabwean econom,y and the African country found itself in chaos.

The current situation in Zimbabwe can improve only after the collapse of Mugabe's regime. However, his regime still exists, no matter how strange it might seem. Mugabe has a number of supporters in several countries, particularly Libya and China, who have their interest in the nation's natural resources.

Sergey Balmasov

Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov