Monday, March 24, 2008

Sokwanele’s Creative Use of Internet Technology

Check out what Sokwanele, one of Zimbabwe’s most powerful voices in support of non-violent, democratic change, is using Google Maps in a unique and powerful way. By mapping election irregularities Sokwanele is showing us just how “fair” the upcoming elections are going to be. For instance, I can see in Bulawayo, where I lived for a time when I was a boy, that there have been cases of political cleansing, violence, and disruptions of the right to freedom of association.

Clicking on one of the icons on the map brings up a synopsis of the story and a link to the incident in their database. The offenses can be filtered by incident type, too.

It may not change the results, but dictators like Mugabe don’t often do well with bright light shining on their transgressions.

I hate that Sokwanele’s creative use of the technology is so necessary, but glad that technology is serving a good cause.

Monday, March 17, 2008

All That Glisters and Stuff of That Nature

There’s a great big oops involved somewhere in this story.

Ethiopia’s national bank has been told to inspect all the gold in its vaults to determine its authenticity.

It follows the discovery that some of the “gold” it had bought for millions of dollars was gold-plated steel.

The first hint that something was wrong reportedly came when the Ethiopian central bank exported a consignment of gold bars to South Africa.

The South Africans sent them back, complaining that they had been sold gilded steel.

None of which makes it easier for me to lay out a Russian language magazine when I have no understanding of the language whatsoever. Just sayin’.

Read the story.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mugabe’s Government: Strangely Resistant to Change

Robert Mugabe’s government is signaling rather loudly that it will not only do what it can to influence the vote in upcoming elections, but that it might not abide by election results if they don’t like them.

Zimbabwe’s police chief has warned he will not let opposition “puppets” take power in elections later this month, state media reports.

Augustine Chihuri said President Robert Mugabe’s redistribution of white-owned land would never be reversed.
The MDC has gone to court to try to force the electoral commission to have more polling stations in urban areas - seen as opposition strongholds.

A report by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network earlier this week said there were an average of 2,022 voters per polling station in the capital, Harare, compared to 530 in Mr Mugabe’s home region of Mashonaland West.

In previous elections, thousands of people have been unable to vote in urban areas because of the massive queues.

Last week army chief General Constantine Chiwenga said:

“We will not support anyone other than President Mugabe, who has sacrificed a lot for this country.”

And last month, prison service head retired Major-General Paradzayi Zimondi told all his staff to vote for Mr Mugabe.

You might imagine that a country with six digit inflation, a wrecked economy, and little in the way of opportunities for its people might be in the mood for change. Not Obama level change, mind you, but real change that might allow the country to find its way out of the wilderness. In practice it hasn’t worked that way because of a combination of constitutional rule changes rigged to give the ruling government a head start in every election, strong arm tactics by government agencies, some remaining popularity because of Mugabe’s war record, a system of payoffs and corruption that has allowed Mugabe to influence the most powerful people in the country, no recognizable free press, and the dependency of voters on the largesse of the government.

But there was always the hope that an overwhelming response from voters might provide change when they finally grew tired of their government’s incompetence. For supporters of the MDC and other opposition organizations--not to mention we outsiders who hope only the best for Zimbabwe--can’t help but feel even more disheartened by the increased open defiance of democratic principles. Not surprised, necessarily, but deeply disappointed.

There is a point to be made from this, as well, for us about the dangers of dependence on the government for our livelihoods. I’m going to leave it alone for another day, though.

Read the rest.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

South Africa: Not a Great Place to be Gay

I subscribe to a number of RSS feeds that serve me up a regular dose of the news from South Africa. The news is startlingly violent and I normally dig past the stories of murders, attacks, and brutality to read the political stories--it’s not me nurturing a blind spot, but the violence is so much of the news that it sort of becomes distracting if you pay too much attention to it.

This story about “corrective rape” caught my eye, though.

Corrective rape, where a male pupil rapes a female lesbian pupil to “make her heterosexual”, was a growing phenomenon in schools, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said in a report released on Wednesday.

A gay and lesbian rights group told the commission during public hearings that homosexual pupils experienced “high levels of prejudice” at school resulting in “exclusion, marginalisation and victimisation”.

“There is a growing phenomenon of corrective rape. This refers to an instance where a male learner rapes a lesbian female learner in the belief that after such a sexual attack the learner will no longer be lesbian,” the report said.

There is no greater point to be made but that it remains a vicious world out there and we’re awfully lucky to be living in the developed, Western nations.

Read the story.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

There Should Be Some Kind of Award for This…

Not every country could hit 100,000% inflation and still claim to be “functional"--although that term might be overstating things a tad.

Zimbabwe’s soaring inflation hit an annual rate of 100,000% in January, new official figures show.

Ongoing shortages of food and fuel helped drive inflation from December’s rate of 66,212%.

So, congratulations to Mugabe for breaking new ground; sympathy to the citizens for having to live under such a nincompoop.

Someday, when Mugabe is gone and someone is trying to pick up the pieces that are left, Mugabe’s defenders and apologists will be able to look on all this and laugh. Mostly because they were probably taking payoffs the entire way through and fat stacks of $10 million (Zim) notes still look impressive. “Ha ha ha, that Mugabe, he was always such an overachiever.”

I’m trying to put together the financing to do a trip to Mozambique next year--an actual journalistic endeavor of sorts--and was hoping to hop the border to get a look at Zimbabwe, too. I wonder how possible that will be this time next year?

Read the story.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

On Normalcy

Hope, from the Sokwanele Blog, explains a little about normalcy in Zimbabwe. As always, Sokwanele remains an excellent resource for gaining a realistic understanding of what life is like in Mugabe’s country--a frustrating, ugly view, no doubt, but far more honest than anything you’ll read from New African’s Baffour Ankomah, an apologist who not only glosses over the depredations of Mugabe’s government, but blames Western powers for Zimbabwe’s economic woes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dog Collar Protest

While Archbishop of York John Sentamu’s protest might be a tad dramatic, it brought attention to what he was saying on this clip from YouTube. And what he was saying was just good sense.

For Zimbabwe to even begin addressing its problems--dead economy, broken infrastructure, joblessness, a decimated farming industry, eroding freedoms, widespread hunger--Mugabe has to go. Leaving our disgust and anger silenced won’t make that happen and neither, apparently (and just as disgustingly), will leaving it to Mugabe’s neighbors. What will make it happen--or, at least, help prepare for what happens when he dies or is too old to carry on as the head of state--is to support grassroots organizations like Sokwanele--folks who work for democratic change and the protection of personal liberty in Zimbabwe. From their About Sokwanele page:

Sokwanele - Zvakwana is a peoples’ movement, embracing supporters of all pro-democratic political parties, civic organizations and institutions.

Sokwanele - Zvakwana will never aspire to political office.

Sokwanele - Zvakwana is a peoples’ force through which democracy will be restored to the country and protected jealously for future generations to ensure that Zimbabweans will never be oppressed again.

When you run into people who insist that everything is fine in Zim, that it isn’t as bad as the media portray, and that the only problems are caused by the financial sanctions from the West, visit Sokwanele and read their writing, see the pictures, and understand that these are Zimbabwe’s citizens. I applaud them for what they are doing.

Thanks very much to Matthew from Billy Ockham for pointing out the video.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Coming Soon…

AfricaBlog will be re-launching at the beginning of 2008--I’m aiming for New Years day because I need the deadline and because I like the symbolism. This is open to people of all political stripes who are willing to respect other opinions enough to have serious, adult conversations; it won’t be about creating outrage, it will be about honest discussion and debate. I will be reaching out directly to some writers that I respect from other sites and hope to play host to diversity in political opinion, nationality, and cultural backgrounds.

Point being: I will again be aiming for a group blog with people willing to commit to posting at least once a week or so. If you would like to sign on, let me know. If you know someone who should sign on, let them know.

Friday, December 07, 2007

I Didn’t Know it Was Possible to Insult the Zimbabwean Dollar…

With a single matchstick costing something on the order of Z$3,000, according to the BBC, is it any wonder that someone might choose to use Z$.10 notes as gimmick business cards? They certainly aren’t useful for anything else and to print real business cards would be far more expensive.

But anyone trying such a thing might do well to remember that Mugabe’s regime isn’t known for a sophisticated sense of humor.

Denis Paul is accused of insulting behaviour for handing out 10-cent Zimbabwean notes stamped with his business details at a tourism fair.

Officials say his actions in effect discouraged tourism to Zimbabwe.

Banks say the cost of printing the 10-cent notes by far exceed their face value. If found guilty, Mr Paul could face up to a year in prison.

Correspondent says the single-cent bank notes - or bearer cheques as they are known - released last year have become obsolete because of rampant inflation.

Does it possibly get better for Zimbabwe before it gets tremendously worse? There’s little on the shelves, scant hard currency (meaning: stable currency from outside of Zimbabwe) to import things like fuel, infrastructure failing, and not nearly enough food to eat. With inflation having, apparently, achieved escape velocity, the economy is certainly wrecked; it’s hard to imagine a recovery any time in the near future without the help of outside agencies. It’s impossible to imagine that help coming while Mugabe still rules.

In the words of the Boomer Bible, “Poor bastards.”

Read the rest.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why Zombyboy Will Never Be a Household Name

Zombyboy will never be a household name because, firstly, it’s kind of a goofy name, and, secondly, with a full time job my opportunity to take part in some of the things I’ve been invited to do becomes remarkably difficult.

For instance, I got an email today from a gentleman at the BBC asking if I would like to be on their “radio programme called World Have Your Say” to discuss how Africa can achieve peace and prosperity. Instead of loosing my brilliance and voice on a world crying out for my guidance (just kidding about that bit), I was knee deep in direct marketing projects.

My job so frequently gets in the way of my happiness…

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why They Continue to Fail

In a sign of phenomenal regional stupidity, the Southern African Development Community--SADC--is forming ranks around Robert Mugabe and threatening to kill off a summit with the EU scheduled to begin next week.

The SADC threat heightened the pre-summit row over Mr Mugabe’s attendance which has already meant Gordon Brown confirming his own boycott of the summit, a move followed by Mirek Topolanek, the Czech Prime Minister. Tomaz Salomão, executive secretary of the SADC, said that its 14 members including South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania as well as Zimbabwe, would pull out if Zimbabwe was on the agenda.

“SADC will not go to Lisbon to discuss Zimbabwe because the summit is not about Zimbabwe, but about relations between the EU and Africa,” he said.

But while neither Zimbabwe nor any other country is expected to be listed as a separate agenda item, “governance and human rights” is one of five areas for discussion at the two-day gathering. A discussion of human rights is also a precondition for lifting Mr Mugabe’s EU travel ban to allow him to go in the first place.

Sadly, I can’t say that this is unprecedented. The truth is that post-colonial African leaders have a long-standing habit of protecting their neighbors from legitimate criticism, preferring to ignore the corruption and misrule in the region partially, I’ve always believed, as a way of ensuring that they themselves never have to face that criticism. I don’t attack you, you don’t attack me.

Or perhaps it simply stems from some strange belief that they are fortifying southern Africa diplomatically against incursions from a hostile Western world. If that is the case, then it goes far in proving that billions of dollars in financial, food, and material aid don’t go far in buying good will; while the West may hold the markets and the purse strings, many African leaders (and their overdeveloped sense of entitlement) insist on setting an agenda that doesn’t include changes in how they govern and how their economies are structures.

If the EU isn’t even allowed to raise the issue of gross negligence in the governing of countries like Zimbabwe, then no honest dialogue about Southern Africa can possibly take place.

But, again, that’s hardly surprise.

My beliefs on aid--and the importance of those Southern African states to the national security interests of the US--don’t necessarily mesh with most of my conservative and libertarian friends, but I think we could agree on this: without continued and aggressive changes to the governance of those states, our aid money is being wasted. Why continue throwing money down a well when there’s somebody at the bottom digging the hole ever deeper? I applaud the European leaders who are boycotting the summit over the inclusion of Mugabe; I wonder what the remaining leaders will do when faced with this very obvious and very hostile maneuver from the SADC?

Regardless, with the SADC putting up this block to a meaningful summit, an accidental message is being sent to the United States, too. When devising future aid packages, we now know that, regardless of some of the more impressive political changes in countries like Mozambique and South Africa, the urge to provide cover for the most corrupt and self-destructive of their members is strong enough to threaten an important summit with the European Union.

And that is one of the biggest reasons that these countries have continued to fail.

Read the story.

Thanks to Robin Roberts for pointing me toward the story.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Zimbabwe Horrors, Part 1

The continuing crisis in Zimbabwe sometimes loses its human face. The numbers are abstracts, the horrors far removed. But the people suffering have names and the stories of their suffering are terrifying. Adonis Musati was a young man who died because Mugabe has utterly failed the people of Zimbabwe.

A Zimbabwean job-seeker who collapsed and died in Cape Town last week, is said to have succumbed to starvation.

Adonis Musati, 23, was a police officer in Chimanimani in eastern Zimbabwe, but the economic crisis led him to South Africa to try to support his family.

He had spent a month at the Home Affairs Refugee Centre, trying to get a work permit, reportedly with nothing to eat, sleeping in a cardboard box.

His family said they had learned of Adonis’s death on the internet.

There is no food, the money is useless, the jobs almost impossible to come by. There is precious little hope for the failed nation at this point and the exodus of those hoping to find jobs and food in neighboring countries grows. Countries don’t topple without effecting the nations around them; ZImbabwe’s slow motion fall will continue to fill countries like South Africa with needy, poor refugees who aren’t prepared to fend for themselves.

From another story:

Drive through the darkened streets of Harare at night - for there is no electricity - and you see hundreds of people walking purposefully at two and three o’clock in the morning.

They are the few who need to get to work - only one in five of the adult population still has a job.

They take up their positions on street corners waiting for a passing car or pick-up truck.

There is no petrol, and regular bus services are already a distant memory.

“I sometimes wait four or five hours to get to work,” said one office worker.

Staring in horror isn’t much of a policy suggestion when it comes to suggesting ways to help right Zimbabwe’s sinking economy. For that matter, with Mugabe still planted firmly at the wheel and looking to run, again, for reelection, it’s hard to imagine any policy prescription that could do much to change the situation. Until Mugabe is gone, ZImbabwe is lost.

Read the story.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Is Communism Dead in Africa?

The question posed by the Beeb to its readers: Is communism dead in Africa?. The reader responses are--as they always are to these open questions--entertaining and enlightening (if, at times, utterly maddening).

Communism is not dead in Africa or anywhere: it can not die. The question indicates a poor acquaintance with the prophetic propositions of Karl Marx: an essentially formless and therefore indestructible movement has been confused with socialism as a physical mode of political organization. Just as corrupted and obsolete socialist structures fell apart, so will the evil, exploitative and violent capitalist political infrastructures. Then a state of world communism and peace will usher.

Communism is never dead. When a new tyrant comes to power, communism is typically one of the tenets they grab hold of. Just look at what has happened in Venezuela. Communism always fails the people, but it never fails the leaders.

There was never really any communism in Africa. Some African nationalists pretended to be communist in order to get aid from the Soviet Union. It would never have taken root anyway. Africans love their freedom too much. Africans are also natural traders.

Communalism-yes. Communism-no.

This is, of course, just a small sampling of the opinions. What is most enlightening is the insight the answers can give to the minds of Africans--it’s rarely a friendly place for the west in general and for America in specific.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Zomby is Gone

Admit it: you’ll miss me while I’m gone. I’m off to a land where there is much beautiful stuff, beaches, warmth, and booze--and where I can hide from everyone and everything for a few days of overpriced overindulgence.

While I’m gone--and before my two buddies, Don and Jerry, start imparting their wisdom--I thought I’d leave you with a handful of links.

First, Macomber introduces me to Drowning Pool. I mean, I already knew of the band, but now I know a lot more about the band--and this one is for the soldiers. Good stuff.

They should have kicked him in the balls a few times, too. Anthony Anderson is a sick, inhuman bastard.

Ridiculously cool and creative artwork for graphics geeks. I mean, wildly inventive.

No one wants to give me the power of invisibility. I like to think of myself as a reasonably ethical guy, but some temptations are just too hard to resist. Just sayin’.

Some fights are worth losing. No, that isn’t the sound of creeping anti-Americanism, just the belief that even Americans get it wrong some time. If I have time, I’ll address this further when I get back.

Okay, you are now cleared to start missing me. Don’t cry. I’ll probably be back.

I mean, unless the plane falls down or something.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Celebrating the Smaller Failures

Of course, you may as well celebrate the small failures when the really really big ones have been piling up for years.

Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate slowed in August to 6,592.8% from July’s record of 7,634.8%, according to the Central Statistical Office (CSO).
The slowdown came in the midst of a price-control programme imposed by President Robert Mugabe in June.

Businesses were ordered to cut or freeze prices for items such as bread and milk.

But critics say the measures have just deepened the chronic food shortages suffered by Zimbabweans.

I certainly hope nobody actually takes this as good news, though.

Read the rest.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Naked Incompetence

Moving on from naked Hudgens (see previous) and onto naked incompetence (and the pain that it brings), here’s a brief note about Zimbabwe.

One US dollar now buys 30,000 Zimbabwe dollars on the official market, having previously earned 250 Zimbabwe dollars.

However dealers said that on the illegal market, $1 was buying 250,000 of the Zimbabwean currency

Latest figures put Zimbabwe’s annual inflation at 7,634%. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned it could reach 100,000% by the end of the year.


Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has led to an estimated three million people fleeing the country for South Africa.

Unemployment stands at about 80% and there are mass shortages of fuel and foodstuffs.

Businesses were forced to freeze prices in June as President Robert Mugabe’s government tried to stem inflation.

But some producers, fearing making a loss, cut production, meaning the move exacerbated shortages, leaving shop shelves empty.

While it’s hard to understate the massive incompetence of Mugabe’s government or the fragile state of the country, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve been just as impressed by the resilience of both the regime and the citizens. That’s one of the things that I loved about my time there, though: it was obvious that Zimbabwe was people by folks who, though relaxed, never stopped moving forward. That the country hasn’t completely and utterly fallen into chaos is as much a testament to their will to maintain a civilized view of their situation as it is a reflection of the oppressive tactics of Mugabe.

Why do I want to live there? It certainly isn’t the creature comfort, the stability, or the great health care; it’s that I deeply admire the people and love the country.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Correction or Clarification (Update)

Marty Peretz statements about Mbeki (“Mbeki the Nutcase”) are appreciated, but I’m relatively certain that he’s wrong about this bit:

But the UK and the US are also not entirely innocent. Zimbabwe is still a part of the British Commonwealth and Great Britain is represented in Harare by a High Commissioner.

I’m fairly certain that Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth in a bit of a snit a few years back. 2003 maybe? Must check and see…

Anyway, it’s a small point in an otherwise funny little attack on Mbeki.

Update: And right I am.

From Wikipedia:

Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002 over concerns with the electoral and land reform policies of Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF government, before withdrawing from the organization in 2003. It had previously been suspended from the Commonwealth under the country’s former name of Rhodesia from its unilateral declaration of independence in 1965 until its internationally recognised independence as Zimbabwe in 1980.

Which report is seconded by the Beeb.

And, finally, so does the Commonwealth itself:

“It is disappointing that the Government of Zimbabwe has taken this step. All members will be saddened by it. I hope that Zimbabwe will wish to return in due course, as have other members in the past. In line with the CHOGM Statement on Zimbabwe earlier this week, members of the Commonwealth will continue to seek to engage Zimbabwe to promote national reconciliation and facilitate its return to the Commonwealth.

“Meanwhile in the light of Zimbabwe’s withdrawal, Zimbabwe becomes a non-member state and is no longer eligible to receive Commonwealth assistance or to attend Commonwealth meetings. Commonwealth organisations should treat Zimbabwe as a non-member state.”

Note to Editors

One consequence of Zimbabwe’s decision to leave the Commonwealth is that a Commonwealth country’s High Commission in Zimbabwe becomes an Embassy, with its High Commissioner now being designated an Ambassador. Equally, Zimbabwe’s High Commissions become Embassies and their High Commissioners are now designated Ambassadors.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Talk About Irony

Apparently, if you search for “‘Keep Mugabe in Power’ foreign aid”, you come to RSong. Which couldn’t be more in opposition to my way of thinking.

Down with Mugabe! Hooray democracy!

For more meaningful commentary on the plight of Zimbabwe (going back some four years or so), you can read here and here (the old, lamented AfricaBlog). You can also search the old posts in ResurrectionSong’s old MT-driven site, although many of those posts will be duplicates of the AfricaBlog stuff.

For current news, be sure to stop by Sokwanele’s blog. Not only is the writing illuminating, but the writers are good people who want only the best for their country. As much as Mugabe’s apologists want to make opposition sound as if it comes from imperialist lackeys, the truth is quite different.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nigeria Continues to Drift (Update)

Offered without comment from the Beeb.

Eighteen men have been remanded in prison following their arrest for alleged sodomy in northern Nigeria, the state-owned news agency, Nan, reports.
The men were arrested in a hotel in north-eastern Bauchi State, which is governed by the Islamic Sharia law.

The Sharia punishment for sodomy is death by stoning.

The men, reportedly wearing women’s clothes, are said to have gone to Bauchi town from neighbouring states to celebrate a “gay wedding”.

Read the rest here.

Update: More Nigerian drift.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

“The economy is down on its knees.”

The title is a sentence from one of the emails from Zimbabwe that the Beeb is running. These notes give a view into the growing disaster of Zimbabwe’s economy.

For another view, Sokwanele has been tracking changes in business for some time now.

Factories continue to shut down and warehouses are being depleted and the last stocks of manufactured goods have all but disappeared from the shelves.

Of course, the country’s own propagandists (and for those of you who think that American media are lapdogs of the administration, I submit that you don’t have the proper respect for our free press), see the situation differently. The support for Mugabe is unwavering, as is the call for price controls.

President Mugabe, in his stewardship role of the nation, has never failed Zimbabweans in their hour of need. We now have our land through his principled leadership.

The Indiginisation Act beckons for the majority to destroy the remaining vestiges of economic deprivation.

But the enemy is on the prowl, seeking to devour us, aided by the weak and corrupt amongst us. This explains why provisions of the Control of Goods Act are being invoked with full vigour to protect consumers harassed, nay haunted by a profiteering business community and marauding illegal regime change activists masquerading as business persons.

Which, while it’s awfully nice that the noble Mugabe is protecting Zimbabweans from the prowling enemy that is harassing, nay, haunting them, the idea that price controls will somehow stop hyperinflation is idiotic. Moneyweb has a clear view:

Mugabe’s government has reacted to the sapping effects of hyperinflation in the same way that many others have reacted: it has sought to implement price controls, fixing the prices of goods at so-called reasonable levels. This seems to make sense. Prices are rising very fast, so decreeing that they stop should solve the problem. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way.

Prices, in a market economy, reflect the value that people assign to a good. Consider the oil market. When demand for a limited supply of oil rises, the price rises. This encourages oil companies to invest more to produce more oil. It enables more expensive oil resources, like Canada’s tar sands, to be exploited.

By fixing the price of goods, the Mugabe’s government will effectively short out this relationship between supply and demand. The effects of this are depressingly familiar. Shops rapidly sell out of goods, and have no incentive to restock. People who produce goods no longer have any incentive to continue producing. Massive shortages result. This has happened again and again. In Zimbabwe, shops are emptying rapidly, and will not be easily restocked as long as price controls remain in place.

Price controls have been tried many times, and have always failed. Consider the Roman emperor Diocletian. When he ascended to the throne in around 200 BCE, the empire was a mess. Civil war, politically motivated land confiscation and looting had sapped the economy. Inflation was rampant. Virtually all the tax money collected went straight to the army, leaving nothing for government to spend on other projects. The government reacted by “printing money”, which pushed inflation ever higher. Diocletian tried to solve the problems by fixing prices, issuing the “Maximum Price Edict” which was supposed to end inflation. Instead, goods were driven to the black market, and large parts of the Roman empire reverted to a barter economy.

No period of hyperinflation has ever been ended by price controls.

All that Mugabe will do, with his strict price controls, is make the underground economy more important and, in my view, raise the likelihood of violence in Zimbabwe. When the official economy is so broken that it doesn’t match the realities of the citizens, then one of the threads that binds a government and the governed is severed. When faith that the government represents the people reasonably and fairly fails, then another of those threads is gone. When people stop believing that peaceful methods--voting, non-violent protest, open and frank discussion of grievances--can cause change, they will ultimately turn to violence.

In Zimbabwe, faith in government is mostly gone and the official economy is near irrelevance. The stories of violence, protest, repression, and corruption are growing; Zimbabwe is near collapse.  The only questions remaining in my mind are just how bad that collapse will be, how much bled will end up shed, and what will replace the government when it finally fails?


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