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A New Government In A Deteriorating Zimbabwean Economy 

The country is hit by drought, HIV/AIDS and a severe economic meltdown. The Zimbabwe economy is collapsing as a result of economic mismanagement. This has resulted to over 90 percent unemployment rate and an inestimable inflation. The inflation rate is estimated at over 80 sextillion (10 raised to the power 21) percent. In fact, it is difficult to mathematically determine the rate with exactitude.

The agricultural sector has almost collapsed, thus aggravating the economic mess.
Zimbabwe, which was the bread basket of Africa some years back, is unable to feed one-tenth of her population today. The World Bank has termed the Zimbabwean economy a tragedy. This is because a country which was considered the stimulator of growth in the sub-region is now hit by excruciating poverty.

The inflation rate led to the introduction of 10billion Zimbabwean dollar note by the country’s Central Bank in December 2008. This amount is less than FCFA 10,000. This multi-billion note, according to reports, could only purchase 20 loaves of bread. The inflation in the country has caused an extinction of the country’s dollar. Most transactions are now being settled in foreign currency with the US Dollar and the South African Rand widely accepted as legal tenders.

Considering the poor state of its currency, the Zimbabwean government encouraged the use of foreign currencies. In September 2008, the government licensed 1000 shops to sell goods in foreign currency. While interest rates are on an upward trend, external debts are hitting record hikes. The Zimbabwe government owes over US Dollar 1 billion to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank.

Statistics also reveal that over 45 percent of the population is malnourished and more than 80 percent of people living on less than FCFA 800 a day. The situation is no better in the educational sector. About 94 percent of rural schools failed to open this academic year. These are the schools where most of the children receive formal education, according to the UN Children’s Fund report of February 10, 2009.

The educational system, once seen as a model in the sub-region, is now a casualty of the country’s collapse and political scramble. What is expected of the new government, according to UNICEF’s spokesperson in Zimbabwe, is to bring back the ideal educational system since the infrastructure is still there.

Education seems to be the last thing on the minds of most youngsters who have dropped out from schools to wander on the streets in an attempt to help their families. Most of the teachers who are still in the profession are doing very little teaching. One of them reportedly said that the inflation has badly affected their salaries.

Minister Henry Madzorera of Health from the MDC party is also on a hot seat. Zimbabwean tabloid, "The Standard" reveals that persistence in the economic shock will cost the lives of at least 3900 Zimbabwean children per year. This figure is about half the infant death toll from HIV/AIDS.

Reports indicate that the rising death toll is not primarily because of illnesses but as a result of hopelessness which reigns in the country. The World Health Organisation has attributed the cholera outbreak in the South African region to Zimbabwe.

WHO’s Fadela Chaib told a news conference in Geneva that, about 4800 cases of cholera is reported in South Africa with about 34 deaths between November 2008 and January 2009. Since most of the problems have been attributed to political instability, the Zimbabwean population is hopefully looking forward to a positive and desirable change.

The new cabinet sworn in to office on February 13 has as main challenge to put the country on its feet again. In a declaration on February 12, PM Morgan Tsvangirai promised to pay civil servants in hard cash in a bid to lure teachers, doctors, nurses and other government workers back to get the country functioning again.

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