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2 July 2007
I write as I please - tweewekelijkse column door Wilf Mbanga

The ridiculous economic policies and practices of the Mugabe regime have gone too far.

Zimbabweans are reeling this week from yet another wave of inflation – caused by wholesale printing of money by government in a pathetic and misguided attempt to placate restive teachers, nurses, soldiers, war veterans and policemen by giving them massive salary increases.

In stark contrast, the Agricultural Labour Bureau released its minimum statutory wages this week – the lowest paid farm worker gets the equivalent of three and a half loaves of bread a month, and the highest gets six loaves! What a farce.

Into this morass jumps the government once again – ordering business to cut prices by 50% or face a takeover by overzealous, hungry, Green Bombers (youth militia).

Even the most naïve members of the public must surely now be wise to Mugabe’s tricks. His populist economic policies have grown more and more ridiculous the longer he has remained in power. But economic reality will have the last laugh.

It has taken but a few days, in some cases only hours, for shops to empty or close completely. Of course corruption thrives in an environment like this and there are no doubt those who will do very nicely out of this chaos, thank you. Without a doubt they will be, for the most part, senior Zanu (PF) party officials.

Minister of Industry and International Trade, Obert Mpofu’s statement that: "We are trying to help consumers from unwarranted and destructive price increases that have affected the economy. The youths and other security forces are merely doing a lawful duty and not out to beat anyone," has been met with the derision it deserves by all but the most desperate of ruling party sycophants.

As I write, hordes of Green Bombers have besieged stores in major towns and cities, causing mayhem. Retailers are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea – the devil most certainly in the shape of the youths and the deep sea being the economic policies that make the cost of production of a loaf of bread around Z$50,000 while regulations state it must be sold at Z$9,000.

Manufacturers have said the Mugabe regime either has to go to hell or start manufacturing the goods itself. I totally agree. My heart goes out to businessman Kenias Mafukidze, of KM Financial Solutions, who I understand broke down during a meeting between industrialists and government officials last week, where he begged ministers to consider their children and the future of their country before plunging the economy once and for all into the abyss.

And the world watches, waits and wonders as, yet again, another little part of Africa destroys itself.

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Wilf Mbanga, one of the founders of the independent Zimbabwean daily newspaper "The Daily News", is currently living in the UK. He writes about the current situation in Zimbabwe.

Recent documents:
Difficult dialogue: Zimbabwe-South Africa economic relations since 2000
Solidarity Peace Trust, Oct 23, 2007
To what extent is South African business profiting from the crisis in Zimbabwe?
Destructive Engagement: violence, mediation and politics in Zimbabwe
Solidarity Peace Trust, July 10, 2007
Increasing repression, what are the chances for mediation by South African president Mbeki?
Zimbabwe: an end to the stalemate?
International Crisis Group, March 5, 2007
Is Mugabe finally loosing his grip on power?