Thursday, June 26, 2008

Zimbabwean Tensions Ahead of Sham Vote

From Al Jazeera:

Zimbabwe is just hours away from an election, where the winner is already known, and it’s an election that's been branded a sham. There is only one candidate - President Robert Mugabe will have his 28-year reign extended and he says he is sticking to the vote, because that is the law of his country. Addressing his supporters he said he was open to discussion, but no-one from outside Zimbabwe should dare interfere.

Update: Not related directly to the election, but I couldn’t help but be amazed by some of the news reports in the past few days about the shambolic state of affairs in Zimbabwe at present. The country’s inflation rate has now surged past the 1, 000% mark according to the Central Statistics Office, a rise of 129% from the previous month. As a result, a loaf of bread now costs between Z$80,000 - Z$110,000 (79 US cents - $1.08) up from about Z$7,500 last year, when the price was controlled by the government. A carton of orange juice costs about Z$500,000 and a kilo of beef up to Z$1m. Apparently, a deli sandwich can go for as much as Z$1 billion.

Business quotations aren’t valid for more than two days and sometimes not even more than a day. Prices can literally double overnight. Back in January, the government introduced a Z$50,000 “bearer cheque” worth 49 US cents, to become the highest value currency note. It’s not enough to buy a copy of the daily Herald newspaper at Z$80,000.