Today, Zimbabwe Tepidly Marks 31 Years of Independent Rule
Back in 2008, Zimbabwe was suffering backbreaking levels of inflation. According to Johns Hopkins applied economics professor Steve H. Hanke, who developed the Hanke Hyperinflation Index for Zimbabwe (HHIZ), “…Zimbabwe’s inflation rate … peaked at 80 billion percent a month. That means around 6.5 quindecillion novemdecillion percent a year–or 65 followed by 107 zeros. To get a handle on it, realize that it’s equivalent to inflation of 98% a day. Prices double every 24.7 hours.”
Three years later, the country has abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar in favor of trade in US dollars, British pounds, euros, and South African rand. The switch helped slow the meltdown in its deteriorating economy, but, hyperinflation aside, the country’s trade situation remains in shambles.
According to Bulawayo24:
“Ironically, Zimbabwe is facing food shortages and has reportedly stepped up maize imports from Zambia (RadioVop, 02/03/11). Major sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy have operated at 40% capacity since 2006, starting with the freight industry which was operating at about 40 percent in October 2006 as a result of ‘continued dislocation of macro-economic fundamentals’ (Zimbabwe Independent, 20/10/06).
“As of September 2010, quoting the London-based researcher GFMS Ltd, the state owned Herald newspaper reported that the gold sector was operating at around 40 percent of installed capacity and that it required US$4 billion to ‘re-capacitate its energy sector to boost output of the precious mineral’.
“Zimbabwe’s trade deficit widened last year as imports outstripped exports by US$2.4 billion according to Zimstats. Like a patient recovering from a deep coma, the country is emerging from an economic slump in which the economy contracted by more than 50 percent from 1996-1998 peak of US$ billion to about US$2.5 billion in 2008 (The Herald, 07/04/11).”
The 87-year old Robert Mugabe has ruled the nation throughout its tumultuous independence, and has shown little interest in relinquishing power. His career that began as a political prisoner of roughly ten years in Rhodesia and peaked as an independence hero has become increasingly tarnished. According to a report in Monsters and Critics.com, today he was able to rally 50,000 attendees to a stadium address in a fashion he knows best, sending Zanu-PF youth “banging on their doors” and telling them to go the stadium, while they wanted instead to spend the day in search “to find food somewhere.”
Still acting Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Dr. Gideon Gono has openly admitted to his role in many failures managing the Zimbabwe economy. Yet, 31 years after Mugabe took office, he still helms the nation, and — as far as Dr. Gono is concerned — what’s some 89.7 sextillion percent inflation between friends?