Thankfully Zimbabwe didn’t have a dinner date last week, when the country had only $217 left in its account. If it had been forced to foot the bill, would the country have resorted to the classic act of having forgotten its wallet?
Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti made the announcement at a press conference in Harare Wednesday that the country was cash-strapped with a meager $217 left in its public account after paying the salaries of civil servants last Thursday.
However, some $30 million of revenue was credited into the government accounts the following day.
Biti told BBC that he made the revelation to clarify that the government was unable to finance elections, not that it was insolvent.
The country’s election agency has said that it requires $200 million to organize a referendum on a new constitution and to hold the election.
“The government has no money for elections... We will be approaching the international community to assist us in this regard, but it’s important that government should also do something,” he said.
He said that it was a statement made in passing and to “dramatize” the point that the government was in dire need of cash.
The country hit the headlines in January 2009 when it introduced the Zimbabwe 100 trillion dollar note. But guess what, due to hyperinflation that the country had been experiencing from 2001, this humongous denomination was worth only about $30.
Despite signs of gradual stabilization, Zimbabwe’s economy continues to be in tatters after years of crisis due to inflation, de-industrialization, energy crisis and shortages of food after a reduction in agricultural production.
President Robert Mugabe, the country’s first black leader, had an iron grip over the nation ever since he assumed power in 1980, until the 2008 parliamentary elections when he agreed to a power-sharing deal with the opposition, following months of political turmoil.
The economy boomed after independence in 1980 but took a tumble in 1997 following violent protests by war veterans for pensions.
The seizure of agricultural land from their white owners hit the agriculture sector, and the economy shrank by half. After the hyperinflation, Zimbabwe effectively abandoned its national currency in 2009 in favor of foreign currencies and inflation began to fall to rates which were in consistent with the U.S. central bank policy.
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