Monday, July 14, 2008

Life

If you don't understand that life in Zimbabwe is incredibly tough at the moment then I don't know what planet you live on. I am not even referring to the ongoing violence that reportedly takes place mainly in rural areas but just the everyday life.

Contrary to what one might think it is not amusing to be a trillionaire.It is rather depressing actually. We are now in a situation where neither the banks, the shops or any accounting software can manage the number of zero's involved in ordinary shopping. I also hear that neither MS Excel or Openoffice Calc can deal with quadrillions (or whatever you call if after trillions) since they have a max of 15 digits.

Let me give you an example: I paid for my internet subscription last week. That came to 2.25 trillion dollars. Now we have a problem: the card payment system kan only deal with up to 1 billion. Yohoo.... OK so I wanted to pay by cheque. It is just that there is a limit on 900 billions for a cheque. That would have meant 3 cheques to pay for 1 thing only. I ended up doing a bank transfer but those can take days now since there are so many forced to use them for all sorts of payments.

Going to do a bit of grocery shopping easily comes to a few trillions and we can basically only use a few shops where we are known and can use cheques.

The daily withdrawal limit (of cash) is 100 billion dollars. Last Friday that amounted to less than 1 USD in "street rate". For that I or Mia go to the bank every day...

On Saturday we went to Donnybrook Racecourse to watch some motocross and stock car racing. Paid entrance fee using a cheque and assumed that the bar/resto would also accept cheques. Nope. So we have cash for 2 drinks and then what happens when the kids want ice-cream or drink or something? You guess it, crying kids and an irritated father. We noticed too late that just about everyone else had brought their own coolerboxes.

As for inflation it is now so fast that quite a few businesses no longer can cope - by the time they need to re-stock the prices are higher than what they charged for the goods.

This will not stop until the politic impassé in the country is resolved. No matter who you claim won the second round of elections Zimbabwe's economy will not become "normal" until you get support from international organisations such as the World Bank, IMF etc. And that will not happen until these organisations, donors and others are satisfied that a credible and reliable government exists, one that they are willing to enter into agreements with.

So for whatever it is worth I hope the ongoing negotiations quickly come to some sort of result that we and the world can accept. Some interesting links:
http://www.zwnews.com/issuefull.cfm?ArticleID=19143
http://www.swedenabroad.com/Page____73845.aspx (download the july newsletter)
http://www.zimonline.co.za/Article.aspx?ArticleId=3421


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