It is disgrace to learn that all the country of Zimbabwe has left in its government coffers is $217. This is a country that is home to some of the world’s largest platinum and diamond reserves. The country’s finance minister Tendai Biti made the shocking admission at a press conference Tuesday, saying, “last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 [left] in government coffers. The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment. We are failing to meet our targets.”
Zimbabwe’s economy went into free-fall at the turn of the millennium, after President Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms.
The move demolished investor confidence in the country, paralysed production, prompted international sanctions and scared off tourists.
After more than a decade — in which the country suffered hyper-inflation of 231 million percent and infrastructure that crumbled as quickly as prices went up — the situation is now more stable.
But public finances remain a mess and local business battles against unstable electricity supplies, lack of liquidity and high labour costs.
I am not sure how the country will dig itself out of this financial hole, but one thing is clear, something must be done quickly. It is time for the people of Zimbabwe to say enough is enough to dictator Robert Mugabe. Their lives haven’t improved one bit under his regime. Biti said, “We will be approaching the international community.” Well, the Chinese may bail them out, but that will come with a price.