Zimbabwe Breaking Records for All the Wrong Reasons | Project Diaspora

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Zimbabwe Breaking Records for All the Wrong Reasons

From a highly educated nation in Africa to a teacher-less schooling system. From number three tobacco producer in the world to a no number producer of anything; not even wild grass. From a well established health system, to not even an expired aspirin bottle in the whole nation. From quality products on the supermarket shelves, to Chinese second hand rubber sandals. From a beacon of democracy in Africa to a pariah state. And for Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe, from a freedom fighter for his people, to the worst “call me Hitler ten times” despot. Loathed by everyone in his country except himself.

The downward spiral has been swift and unhindered. Most of us did not see it coming and if you blinked (like the rest of the world did) you cannot believe what has since happened to a beautiful country like Zimbabwe. It all started in November of 1997 when Mugabe, (under pressure from the War Veterans who where threatening to expose his corrupt tendencies and challenging his authority unless they were paid their compensation for going to war as the government had promised for years) ordered the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to print some money for them. In 1997 one US$ was the equivalent of about Z$10 and there was no black market. By the end of the year (after Mugabe printed Z$50,000 for each of the 50,000 so called “War Veterans”), 1US$ was worth Z$27, and it never came down. Today,10 years later, 1US$ is worth about Z$5million on the thriving black market which has become the “official” money market for the nation including the government itself.

Then came the national referendum of 2000, in which the whole nation voted overwhelmingly against forcible repossession of white owned farms but agreed on the need for redistribution of land to benefit black farmers too. Mugabe was livid and would not forgive the people for voting NO to his government driven referendum. A Yes vote would have made it easy for him to be life-long president of Zimbabwe. He let loose the 50,000 War Veterans on the white owned farms. Thereby disrupting the commercial farming which for decades had been Zimbabwe’s top foreign currency earner. Displacing thousands of farm workers who became homeless and jobless instantly, and sending 90% of the white commercial farmers into exile. Overnight Zimbabweans were thrown from a their position as supplier of food to the surrounding nations and beyond to a begging bowl case with thousands fleeing the country into South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and the UK and the USA.

As if the devil was not done yet, we found ourselves meddling in the affairs of the Congo in support of rebels sending our entire army into the unfamiliar rain forests of the Congo unprepared. In return “body bags” full of diamonds and gold stolen from the jungles of Congo were sent back to Zimbabwe. The overnight renditions were, (of course) not for the benefit of the country, but Mugabe’s henchmen. The price was paid in plane loads full of real body bags of our dear soldiers. Mugabe also benefited by finding a Presidential suitor for his sister-in-law (his wife’s sister who is now married to Joseph Kabila the President of the Congo).

The nation’s hopes were then completely dashed at the 2002 general elections. An election that no doubt was rigged and decided way before the voting started. At that time we were not making the same headlines we are making now but it was a sign of the bad things in store for the nation.

Thanks to Mugabe and his cronies Zimbabwe is now making headlines all over the world. Of all the troubled spots in the world, it was one of the few mentioned in President Bush’s last State of the Union address. On several occasions during the past two years it has been mentioned in the same breath with notoriously bad countries like Iran, North Korea, Sudan and the like. Of course Zimbabweans in general are not proud of the “special” mention and attention the nation is attracting at this moment. I have had such a hard time trying to explain the exchange rates et al to anyone who cares to listen.

As the nation goes to an vote in March, we hope it will bring the change for which we have been praying. We hope the state of affairs especially the economy will motivate all eligible and able voters to vote overwhelmingly for a change of guard at State House. Otherwise with these kind of record breaking inflation and unemployment rates, unparalleled and unrivaled even by Iraq or any wartime era in the history of civilization, and the general breakdown of everything, Zimbabwe will not survive another year. Call it inherent bad faith, but I certainly believe the rigging of yet another election has already started and Mugabe will still be in power in April. I hope I am wrong but for now I wait for the day Zimbabwe will be headline news around the world for the good reasons.

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