Potential Hot Spots: Zimbabwe


12pt; font-family: Verdana;">Items About Areas That Could Break Out Into War 

August 10, 2006: It now  takes approximately 85 million Zimbabwean dollars for a family of five to live each month. To say inflation has savaged Zimbabwe doesn't begin to describe the situation. Dictator  Robert Mugabe is responsible for most of Zimbabwe'seconomic misery, beginning with his farm expropriation policies in 2000. Still the big numbers are fascinating. Annual inflation, based onJuly figures, now runs at 990 percent. Based on June figures it broke 1000 percent a year. It's likely that there will  1000 percent inflation for all of 2006.

Zimbabwe is now in the process of exchanging "old currency" denominations for new ones. The government has lopped three zeroes off current currency denominations. Essentially one US dollar was valued at 250,000 Zimbabwean dollars; that will now be one US dollar for $250 Zimbabwean dollars. Zimbabweans are supposed to finish exchanging currency by August 21. The country is also facing widespread fuel shortages.

Zimbabwean Army soldiers are deployed in the streets of Harare. There are reports of soldiers beating up cab drivers. That seems to be a complex story involving allegations by the Mugabe government that "transport operators" (cabbies, bus drivers, etc.) are "sabotaging the economy." There has also been a government drive to stop what it calls "hoarders" and "illegal currency dealers." Zimbabwean military and police have taken money from anyone they find carrying more than $400 (US) worth of Zimbabwean currency. They claim is they are cracking down on speculators who stashed cash (ie, illegal cash) and are now trying to spend it rather than exchange it.

The economic disaster continues as the battle to succeed Mugabe proceeds with the ZANU-PF (Mugabe's political party). There are at least two major camps in the ZANU-PF, one lead by Joyce Mujuru and the other by Emmerson Mnangawa. (Joyce Mujuru, by the way, is married to a former Zimbabwean Army general.)

Over the last year street violence has increased. Some of the violence is gang related; with the economy in the sewer and inflation insane there is no work. Unemployment estimates vary, but 70 percent nemployment is a common figure.  The constant fear among ZImbabweans is a tribal war, particularly one pitting the Shona against the Matabele.


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