No Food, no medication, ZNnews
I have not blogged much about Zimbabwe recently (or about very much at all, to be honest). The news from that country has seemed unremittingly bleak: we are watching a country crumble into dust - and the poorest pay the most, their lives.
There are empty hospitals, the fire service has no money, the state utilities will no longer accept cheques in Zimbabwean Dollars.
Cholera is affecting tens of thousands - and has spread into South Africa and Botswana. Harare city council has responded by waiving fees for burials - free graves for victims.
But the one piece of bad news which I have seen recently is the growing dissent in the police and armed services. This from IRIN on ZWNews:
Uniformed Zimbabwean soldiers raided one of the capital's money-changing
haunts after becoming frustrated with queuing to withdraw cash at a Harare bank,
according to an IRIN correspondent who witnessed the event. The soldiers
descended on foreign currency dealers in "Roadport" in central Harare on 27
November, where they assaulted money dealers and robbed them, an indication of
the low morale among Zimbabwe's rank and file soldiers. A soldier, who declined
to be identified, told IRIN that there were increasing levels of despondency
among soldiers deployed by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF government to
suppress unrest and protest. "We have no food in the barracks. There is no
medication in military hospitals, while we can not access our money in the
banks. The general attitude is that even if people are to riot, there would be
no enthusiasm to stop them. After all, we are all suffering, and the irony is
that we have done our own rioting," the soldier said.
Zimbabwe's official inflation annual rate is estimated at 231 million
percent, but independent economists cite the inflation rate in the billions of
percent; hyperinflation is causing widespread cash shortages. Banks have set a
maximum daily limit of Z$500,000, creating long queues at banks each day, with
no guarantee there will be any money to withdraw. Soldiers and police officers
are paid in local Zimbabwean dollars, and although in theory they are granted
preferential treatment, in practice this is not occurring.
These are not the only forces at the state's disposal - the intelligence services and the Youth Militia are still potent - but a state that cannot enforce its will through its army and police is no state at all.
I hope that someone is waiting and planning, putting in place all the necessary means of rescue against the day that the state finally gives way - food aid, clean water, fuel, medical supplies and personnel, a financial rescue package, new military and police command, and political structures which can command such loyalty as to wholly marginalise the remaining Zanu-PF loyalists. There will be no time to start planning when the state implodes - and those who have suffered turn violently on those they see as its cause.