More than noughts

Jul 30th, 2008 | By | Category: International

Mathematics in Zimbabwe will be simpler – well, for a few days at least.  The BBC reports

Zimbabwe’s central bank has said it will introduce a new currency on 1 August as part of efforts to fight the effects of hyperinflation.

The bank’s governor, Gideon Gono, has announced zeros will be lopped off the Zimbabwe dollar, making 10bn dollars one dollar.

Only last week, the government introduced the Z$100bn note.

The exchange rate today is 1.3 trillion dollars to £1 Sterling, that’s 1,300,000,000,000 to the Pound.  The man responsible for the management of the currency says that figure will be divided by 10 billion which will should give a rate of 130 new dollars to the Pound, but when your own government has conceded that the inflation rate is 2.2 million per cent, those annoying noughts will start appearing again.  (An impressive piece of mathematics to calculate it at 2.2 million, a precise piece of social science research, the unofficial figure was 15 million per cent).

Back in the 1970s, we would sit in history classes and wonder why no-one did anything about Hitler in the 1930s, why was he allowed a free hand in bringing a reign of evil into his own country?  We would be assured that the United Nations would ensure that no dictator would be allowed to destroy his country, though even in the 1970s it seemed a hollow assurance.

Zimbabwe has made clear that the United Nations is an impotent body.  Unless the United States is prepared to act as the world’s policeman, then no-one else is going to do anything, China is too busy suppressing dissent in its own backyard and Russia is in rapid decline, unable even to stop its own population falling.

Worse than the United Nations is the African Union, that gathering which welcomes the corrupt and the despotic, and which applauded Mugabe’s stealing of the election.

Does anyone really care?

Of course not.  We are like the people in Mark Steyn criticizes in his home town in New Hampshire who drive around with ‘Free Tibet’ bumper stickers.  What are they going to do to free Tibet? Nothing of course.

No-one is going to do anything about Zimbabwe.  We are going to watch the farce of talks as the extraordinarily brave Morgan Tsvangirai seeks to reason with the devil. We will express concern and say how terrible things are, but if someone suggested a UN force to support democratic change? We would be outraged.

A colleague in Zimbabwe last week told me that a voluntary clinic at his church had been approached to provide medication for the local psychiatric hospital.  It seemed emblematic of Zimbabwe’s problems; with what medication does one respond to the sociopaths who run the country?

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  1. There is an answer to the Zimbabwe problem but I would not be allowed to mention it here

  2. As you know Ian I find it very frustrating. Financial support is difficult and you never know whether it gets to the right people, moral support is ineffective. The best I can do is lobby through organisations such as Avaaz and Amnesty International . . I watched a news item last night where a reporter bought two tins of baked beans and a lb of tomatoes from an almost empty Supermarket in Harare – the cost $6 billion!

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