Hell on earth Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, July 03, 2007
I can't imagine how else to describe the deteriorating conditions in Zimbabwe as inflation runs rampant and a clueless dictator takes out his failure on those trying to live through it:
Plain-clothes police sought to enforce Zimbabwe's new price controls by raiding shops yesterday as President Robert Mugabe's regime waged a desperate struggle against soaring inflation.
They roughed up shop owners and staff and arrested 20 businessmen. Shoppers swarmed over supermarket shelves in the capital, Harare, intent on grabbing "bargains".
Ministers claim that the inflation rate of 4,500 per cent - the highest in the world - is solely caused by greedy shopkeepers raising their prices for no good reason. Propaganda tries to portray businessmen as the true authors of the economic collapse - deflecting blame from Mr Mugabe.
But economists say that the prime cause of inflation is the government's huge budget deficit, which it deals with by printing more money. This immense borrowing requirement is, in turn, the result of the wider economic failure caused mainly by the seizure of white-owned farms.
The "bargains", of course, were goods which had prices set by the government. Naturally after selling them at those prices, which completely ignore the real worth of Zimbabwe's horribly inflated currency, shop owners can't afford to buy replacement goods. So those that try to align their prices with their real costs are those who are being arrested and roughed up.
Shelves in supermarkets across Harare are swiftly emptying and police in full riot gear linger outside.
The new controls force supermarkets to sell food at below its cost from wholesalers. Unless the regime relents, there will be food shortages, empty shelves and, eventually, the closure of all shops.
"We won't be restocking. If need be, we might have to close shop rather than stick to government prices," said the manager of one store.
That's reality. A totally inept and corrupt government which has ruined one of the best economies in Africa has now made it so even basic staples won't be available soon. And, as they want you to believe, it's all the fault of greedy shopkeepers. Reminds me of a refrain I've heard elsewhere at times.
Will anyone run their business for loss? The Zimbabwe government,put it exactly Mugabe is the sole reason for the situation in the country..He is trying to escape from the blame by just pass it onto innocent shopkeepers... mobile phone deals
I read the plea in the TimesOnLine Sunday a plea from a Bishop that the UK invade Zimbabwe in order to prevent the starvation of possibly millions. I emailed a Marxist colleague to ask what could be done. With a heavy heart I append a somewhat lengthy set of exchanges that I feel explains way too much.
"Plea from Zimbabwe:
So. What’s the answer, if there is one? I’m serious. I don’t see any good way out of this. What should be done, and by whom (and is it likely to actually happen) to prevent "millions" from starving to death?> Where, exactly, is the international outrage? Where is the UN? Where are the NGOs interested in the general welfare of the people of the world?
I’ll bet Jesus would have used his turn signal.
“Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have>>>guns; why should we let them have ideas?"
— Joseph Stalin
"To be a nonconformist, you’ve got to wear the proper uniform."— Robert Heinlein (possibly apocryphal)
Subject: Re: Plea from Zimbabwe
Hmm, this link didn’t work, but I googled the topic and think I found the article, or a similar one. Yes, Zimbabwe is a mess, and I don’t think there is a simple answer. It’s a state on the verge of collapse, with an appalling government, but what can be done to help the people? The historical background for the mess includes the long accumulated effects of colonialism followed by neocolonialism, but that doesn’t point the way to a solution today. The whole international system of states really rests of a lot of problematical compromises, and this case is just one example of that larger problem. Maybe we can send them (our university) administration, they seem to be pretty good at creative accounting practices and sweeping crises under the rug!
I was out all day, getting ready to visit my family and kids. We leave tomorrow.
Anyway, that’s a pretty depressing analysis. Actually, that’s a very depressing analysis. Does this really mean there is *nothing* to be done? Ever? Do all of the compromises just lead to more of the same? What about a new system of states? If the current system can’t help people like this, why do we compromise with the Zimbabwes of the world in the UN at all?
Does a long history of colonialism or neocolonialism or any other kind of ism mean we have to compromise with whatever group of thugs manages to get on top and allow them to ’help’ make future compromises forever?
It just seems to me like almost anything would be better than standing by while perhaps millions die, but maybe I don’t understand international politics. Perhaps Stalin was truly right. "One death is a tragedy, one million deaths is a statistic." (That’s probably not perfect, but I remember the gist.) When does a million deaths become a tragedy?
Personally, I think that, at the very least, states that are permitting or forcing thousands to millions of deaths of their own people (democide?) should have their voting rights in the UN suspended and *all* their citizens who hold UN jobs sent home without pay until the situation is corrected, but I’m kind of a harsh guy.
D Well, I guess by those criteria the US should be the first to be expelled from the club, since we allow/cause so many to die - for example, we’re pretty far down the ranking on infant mortality despite having ample national resources... To say nothing of all the people our government actively kills in other places, but they’re never counted. And I guess by your call for someone (who would that be?) to "do something" about Zimbabwe’s lousy government you mean send in some military - which hasn’t proven to be notably effective in making people’s lives better, as we’re learning in Iraq... It is hard, but not impossible, to help people whose government is bent on preventing it, and occasionally the UN and NGOs and others manage to do something positive despite the obstacles. But in the long run we still need to address the question of why such governments are there, and even though you don’t want to hear about colonialism and neocolonialism and the Cold War, there are clearly powerful interests on a global scale that benefit from propping up rotten governments. That’s how we got the Bush administration! But you and I are never going to agree on any of this.
Have a safe trip and a nice visit with the family! R
Jumping Julius, that sounds awfully familiar. Ask a question, get some historical analysis of the effects of colonialism or the international blah blah.... which has little or no relevance to the original question but gives the writer an opening to flaunt his/her/its alledged expertise.