Shocking price rises

... but MDC has the answers

HARARE – Zimbabwe is sinking into unprecedented economic crisis over the hold-up in presidential election results, with prices of basics shooting up at an alarming rate, underlined by this week’s shocking rise of a loaf of bread to Z$80 million.

Stores and hotels are beginning to run empty again, businesses are shutting their doors, and tourists are conspicuously absent over the uncertainty caused by the results delay.

Downtown Harare is a lifeless shell following President Mugabe’s wilful destruction of his nation’s economy and his subsequent refusal to concede defeat and step down honourably.

Political leaders, whether the ebullient architects of the March 29 win for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), or the glum Zanu (PF) followers of Mugabe, sit in their offices wondering whether the president will change his dictatorial ways and allow the MDC to get into office.

The winning presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, knows how to begin to fix Zimbabwe’s woes: stimulate production, let the country’s currency devalue to help farmers and other exporters; restore law and order to the farming sector by ousting interlopers; re-engage bilateral and multilateral partners for desperately needed balance of payments support; and end the leader-led corruption.

In contrast, Mugabe, who has retained power through a military junta, remains silent as the country risk sinks to new lows over the uncertainty spawned by the results hold-up, and invasions of the white-owned farms that are continuing illegally. The Zimbabwean understands senior members of Zanu (PF) want their president to step down, but fear his wrath.

Zimbabwe’s once rich economy has endured a precipitous meltdown since 2000 when Mugabe launched the land grab. It is now in free fall since the elections.

Inflation has raced upward to 165,000 percent – the highest rate in the world – with daily increases in the prices of almost everything from commuter fares, now averaging Z$50 million per ride, to the cost of a 2kg pack of sugar, now retailing at Z$500 million.  

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