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December 29, 2003

Zimbabwe Crisis Continues to Grow

The cattle of Zimbabwe used to provide food not only for the nation, but for the entire region. Now, with was is, essentially, the complete collapse of the economy and the dire need for food aid, the cattle are dwindling.

Zimbabwe's commercial beef cattle herd, which until three-and-a-half years ago earned more than R14-billion annually from exports, is on the verge of extinction as a result of the country's political upheavals.

The national herd, bred over a period of 110 years for survival in Zimbabwe's harsh conditions, stood at 1,4 million animals in 2000 when President Robert Mugabe launched his farm invasion strategy.
The looming disappearance of one of Zimbabwe's most valuable assets is the most dramatic illustration yet of the meltdown that is occurring in a country with the world's highest inflation rate (620 percent) and the fastest-declining economy.

That estimate of 620% inflation is suspect as it is Zimbabwe's government's internal estimation. The real rate, according to observers, is already likely over 700%. While the economic issues have become frighteningly large over the last few years, the fact is that this is an economic implosion that is the result of decades of poor policy, cronyism, and mismanagement. That the complete collapse of the nation has accelerated over these last few years, though, is terrifying.

It isn't too hard to imagine Mugabe facing armed resistance by the end of next year. His opponents will be both Ndebele activists (who have grown tired of seeing all of Zimbabwe's real power in Shona hands) and those who, regardless of tribal affiliation, have grown weary of sham elections, corruption, and a defiant leader who continues hoard power and the nation's dwindling wealth.

Whatever level of (or lack of) assistance or intervention you believe should be coming from international sources, there should be no surprise when Zimbabwe completely fails in the near future.

Frankly, this could be very similar to watching a car wreck: we see the reasons, we see the direction, and we even have a fairly clear idea of what might result from the crash. We also may have already passed any point where stopping that wreck is even possible. I still believe, as I have explained elsewhere, that the US, the UN, and South Africa should be taking action to avert the coming disaster. I also believe that we are very near that point where no assistance can stop Zimbabwe's collapse; soon, all that will be left to do is watch, try to minimize the damage, and wait for an opportunity to help begin the rebuilding process.

Read about the dwindling Zimbabwe cattle.

Posted by zombyboy at December 29, 2003 11:28 AM

The inflation rate in Zimbabwe is actually nearer 1100%, that is the reality of purchasing here at the moment.

Posted by: Mukiwa at January 4, 2004 02:33 AM
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