Monday, August 13, 2007

An unhappy holiday in Zim

HARARE, Zimbabwe, Aug. 12 -- Acute gasoline shortages crippled transportation services in Zimbabwe on Sunday, stranding thousands of weary travelers at bus stops before a two-day holiday honoring guerrillas who fought against colonial-era white rule.

Zimbabwe is facing its worst gasoline shortages since the seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms began in 2000, disrupting the agriculture-based economy. Shortfalls in food, energy and other sectors, along with the world's highest rates of inflation, have devastated the country....


At least 7,000 business leaders, traders and bus drivers have been arrested in the push to enforce the price clampdown, which has led residents to clean store shelves of bread, meat, milk and other staples.

Over the weekend, the government backed down on a ban on private slaughterhouses, which are accused of profiteering, and doubled the price of beef to restore meat supplies.

David Hasluck, head of the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council, told state media that the new beef price still was not as high as the viable levels of neighboring South Africa and other countries. He said the government was expected to approve higher poultry and pork prices soon.

Cigarettes and state-run newspapers were the latest items in short supply Sunday. But beer was trickling back into the market after a 30 percent price increase was announced Friday.

Still, the Harare Sports Club, the venue of a cricket match between teams from Zimbabwe and South Africa, had no beer, bread rolls or ground meat for burgers.

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