The latest bad news from Zimbabwe is that the currancy is in free fall, with prices going up hourly.

So what does the government do? They order shops to roll back prices, essentially to the price things were ten days ago, and reinforce the prices by sending the “green bombers” (government trained gangs of young men) to terrorize shopkeepers.

The result is easy to see. Merchandise disappears off the shelves, to be stored or sold on the black market. Shops can’t sell bread if the price of baking bread is more than the price of selling it. And the manufacturing sector can no longer get supplies.

The government blames the west and sanctions, but the hyperinflation was easy to predict when the government started printing more money to pay their bills.

Recent moves to force foreign companies to “invest” in local people by forcing majority Zimbabwean stockholders won’t help things, since essentially like the farms this will displace the knowledgable with the corrupt.

Regime change is probably brewing, with peaceful change through South African negotiations being actively pursued. However, the arrests of several soldiers and the death of a general from a motor vehicle accident far from his home has started rumors of a failed coup.

So how do people live? Many live off of gifts from family and friends overseas or in South Africa. Others barter. There is a thriving black market, and foreign money is often used for purchases.

NGO’s are predicting furthur hunger, since the winter wheat harvest is predicted to be poor thanks to lack of petrol to irrigate during the dry/cool season. However, rural farmers cope like their ancestors, and if the rains continue to be good, will manage to survive.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. She writes on African matters at Makaipa Blogspot.

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