Green Room

Zimbabwe’s bank account has a balance of … $217

posted at 11:33 am on January 30, 2013 by

No, I didn’t leave off a “million” or “billion.”  They have a grand total of two hundred and seventeen dollars left:

“Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 in government coffers,” Finance Minister Tendai Biti said, according to The Telegraph. “The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment.”

That last admission was an understatement not because of his assessment of paralysis, but because he implied the problem is only a recent one.

The country that was once considered southern Africa’s “breadbasket” for its fertile lands and rich mineral deposits has been experiencing slow but certain ruin due to more than three decades of largely despotic rule by President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe and his cronies seem to be making off with most of the revenue:

Last year, Finance Minister Biti complained that government coffers had not received the promised $600 million in diamond revenues from a recently discovered rich deposit. Biti said that only one-fourth of that pledge has been received.

Overall, at least $2 billion worth of diamonds have been stolen from Zimbabwe’s eastern diamond fields and have enriched Mugabe’s ruling circle, international gem dealers and criminals, according to an organization leading the campaign against conflict diamonds.

Mugabe’s ruling clique. International gem dealers.  Criminals.  But we repeat ourselves.

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