July 5, 2012: Zimbabwe is full of mineral and agricultural riches but is broke. That's because the politicians running the place for the last few decades have destroyed the economy. Foreign and locally owned businesses were plundered and destroyed. In the process the government ruined its credit rating by refusing to honor debts. Now Zimbabwe can only buy foreign goods if they pay in advance. There's not much left to pay with because there's little left for the government to steal.
In desperate need of new weapons and other equipment for the police and military, Zimbabwe is negotiating a deal with Russia, to receive large quantities of weapons and equipment in return for giving Russians the right to work some known platinum deposits. Key negotiating points are guarantees that Zimbabwe will honor its agreement. This is a crucial point because the government of Zimbabwe has violated so many domestic and international agreements over the last few decades. The Russians apparently want to provide their own security and be free from local prosecution for any deaths or damages resulting from defending themselves and their platinum mines. This is a potentially very ugly situation but the profits could be huge and killing rapacious Zimbabwean officials is seen as a positive thing by many Zimbabweans and people from neighboring countries.