Zimbabwe is in crisis. How could we not be aware of it when it's been in the news for a long time. They've got their bank notes going up to Z$100 billion and generally we just get bad news after bad news. It's a shame. It really is, and I have been trying to think (I am aware that thinking is not the same as taking action; what action can I, in all honesty, take?) what are the possible outcomes of the situation. Let's think about the option of change.
If the political situation in Zimbabwe changes and new government takes control, the country is in a desperate need of money coming from somewhere. Somewhere maybe like IMF and World Bank. Surely they will want to help but unfortunately that help comes with strict conditions. Inflation has to be controlled by any means necessary. Public sector needs to be cut into minimum and general wave of privatisations will sweep over the land. Then, as it has been happening in South America, former Eastern Bloc and Russia, Indonesia and in South Africa the people who are ready to take what they can will do so and live happily ever after. Large part of the country will be then owned and controlled probably by multinational companies and since the public sector will be forgotten, the poor and sick will become more sick and poor. Sounds cynical I know, but hey, I didn't come up with that. People with much more knowledge on economics, as far as I understand, in the Chicago University Economics Department did.
Last week I read about a study made nowhere else but University of Cambridge that because of the conditions of the loans given to former Soviet Union countries and Eastern Bloc, over 100 000 people have died because of tuberculosis; a perfectly curable illness. This, according to once again people much more intelligent and knowledgeable than me, could only be because of non-existent healthcare; a crucial part of cutting down the public sector which is a condition for this money. Now Zimbabwe isn't running out of poor people (actually as anyone in South Africa could tell you, the poor people are running out of Zimbabwe, unfortunately only to find more hostility from the country that silently has been plagued by similar conditions regardless of what appears to have been peaceful political, no one ever said economical, transformation). The economical shock therapy for a country that is in a shock to begin with, will have deadly effects on so many. Collateral damage, as some could call it in a cold manner, will be unthinkable. I said earlier, I am not an economist, and I must say that this writing is largely based on logic offered by Naomi Klein in her book Shock Doctrine, but with her case studies and the study I referred to earlier by University of Cambridge, my writing will have as much meaning as any in a blog like this could.
It would be easy to say that Zimbabwe is a perfect example of what corruption can do to a country and it would probably be true. Especially so, if one is inclined to think that an iceberg is only what we see above the sea level. Icebergs however, continue far below the waterline and that's where its power lies. To some extend, actually, Zimbabwe is much better example of what happens, especially in an African context, when you don't do what your former colonisers and their mates say. It's an example of non-cooperation with international money power. It hasn't worked too well either.
The whole thing is though, as I was talking with my wife the other time, like a child of a single parent blaming all of the shortcomings of his/her life to the fact that another parent wasn't around. As a people we are generally inclined to think that any other option that we currently have would automatically be better. We like to ignore the fact that there's a good chance it would be much worse as well. That's unfortunately how I see Zimbabwe. If the aggressive father/mother comes back into the house everyone may get hurt and all the little money that there was will be spent on booze.
None of this is to say that Zimbabwe is doing particularly well or that Mugabe would be fit to lead it to a better tomorrow. But the vultures are circling over the Victoria Falls right about now and they are ready to strike. My opinion, which I never have claimed to be the truth, is that Mugabe is not on the Top 40 of bad guys in the world and we probably don't even recognise many names in the Top 10. It quite clearly appears that Zimbabwe could use a change but what will it be like? What are its options in realistic terms? Unfortunately I have no real answers and fortunately no one really depends on me having any.
External link to the Cambridge study I mentioned.
South Africa: 13 years after liberation international debt conditions still keep public sector and masses poor.