Wednesday, January 07, 2009

the "dollarization" of Zimbabwe

from the BBC:

But increasingly it is only US dollars that are accepted in Zimbabwe's shops. Petrol stations are among those now turning away people who offer fistfuls of local currency.

Even water bills - for what little clean water there is - have to be paid in hard US cash. And bread is now a dollar commodity in many parts of the country.


There has been a surge in cross-border trade in recent weeks with the lifting of restrictions on US dollar transactions.

Consumer goods, food and cars are being brought across from neighbouring South Africa.

Supermarkets are now stuffed with food, filling shelves that just a month or so ago were empty.

These supermarkets are for Zimbabwe's tiny dollar elite - the type that drive brand new cars into the car parks as others try to fend off starvation. They only accept US dollar bills in these swanky shops.....

Massive food shortages, hyperinflation, cholera and continued political turmoil are a heady cocktail.

In any other country in the world, this combination might have triggered a coup. But not here. People are simply too scared.

Critics vanished

Journalists, human rights activists and other critics of Robert Mugabe's presidency have recently vanished.

More than 20 people have disappeared in just the past few weeks - people are terrified.

Reporting the Zimbabwe story is risky for all concerned - not least those on the other side of the microphone.

Not surprisingly many are reluctant to speak out...

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