President Robert Mugabe's incompetence reaches new heights as the Zimbabwean bank issue a $200,000 note and the IMF predict inflation at 4,500 per cent. The new note has been issued due to the fact that the $100,000 note (pictured above) now only has an official exchange rate of $7.58 ($0.58 on Zimbabwe's black market). Mugabe has forced shop owners to slash their prices by at least half and those who refuse are fined or arrested. This master stroke has now made even the most basic of provisions extremely difficult to find on the shelves.
When a country's inflation rate reaches 4,500%, things begin to happen that are so surreal, so Alice In Wonderland, that for those looking on from abroad, it's almost possible to forget that they are also desperately tragic. A banana in Zimbabwe now costs as much as several large houses did seven years ago. Some of the nation's poorest people are multimillionaires: a night watchman, for example, might earn two million Zimbabwean dollars a month, but that's too little to feed a family - and in any case, four-fifths of adults have no job in the legitimate economy. The elite still get to go golfing, but they pay for their drinks before they start, because the price might have rocketed by the end of the round. "What does 4,000% even mean? It's hard to imagine," says Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's opposition leader, as if he can't quite grasp it himself. "It means that the cooking oil you bought today, within three days may sell for three times what you paid for it. That's what it means. And for the ordinary person, who has no means? It means death. The kiss of death."
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