Potential Hot Spots: The Incredible Shrinking Zimbabwe

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: Items About Areas That Could Break Out Into War

August 31, 2007: It's been another terrible month in Zimbabwe. The high point was the issue of a new bank note. Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank issued a Z$200,000 note (as in a two-hundred thousand Zimbabwean dollar note). With inflation now around 5000 percent a year, the bank had to do something. But the new note, while worth 13 U.S. dollars at the official exchange rate, gets you only one American dollar on the more realistic black market. The government imposed price controls has destroyed the market economy.

Refugees are still the big story. South African government authorities are now acknowledging the problem posed by Zimbabweans who are fleeing the Mugabe dictatorship. Britain is making plans to evacuate its (estimated) 15,000 citizens. About a third of the 13 million population is already believed to have fled to neighboring countries in search of work and food. Over 5,000 a day are still leaving. That means another two million people gone in the next year, if the exodus stays steady. The government does not have sufficient police or military forces to seal the borders.

Robert Mugabe's government continues to tighten the screws. On August 3 the government made a law that allowed state police and intelligence agents to monitor all internet communications and phone lines as well as packages and mail flowing through the postal system. The law is aimed at opposition political groups. But at the rate people are fleeing the country, Mugabes watchdogs will soon have no one to watch.

 

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