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Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Does any of this make sense to you?

In Zim, life is one Nietzschean moment after another:
It’s hard to describe the grind of daily life in Zimbabwe without baffling people with numbers, percentages and statistics that are so unreal they are uncomprehendible. The cash crises that has crippled us for years has been one of those undescribable things.

The last few months have been horrific.

This morning I once again saw red when I opened my month-end bank statement.

Yesterday I had a balance in my account of $2,000 (at old value that is 20 trillion dollars / $20,000,000,000,000.00). This account is dormant, untouched for months.

This morning I find I owe the bank $500,000 in service fees for one month’s bank charges to hold my $2,000. This is no joke.

The joke may be the $4 interest I received or the $0.80 cents withholding tax that I am paying, but my sense of humor is weak today and I cannot even laugh at that!

As I write this the parallel / black market rates are as follows USD1 = ZWD2500 and ZAR1 = ZWD360.

These rates will change within an hour.

The daily cash limit, per person per day is now a whopping (ha, ha) $20,000 (USD8, ZAR55.56).
The cost of a personal cheque book at today’s price (it will change by tomorrow) is $2,000,000 or $33,333 per page.

You pay $33,333 (USD13.33, ZAR92.59) to receive $20,000 (USD8, ZAR55.56).

Does this make sense to you?

And to get that $20,000?

A friend of mine got to the bank at 3am this morning and was handed a number – number 94 in line. At 5pm he finally got to the front of the queue. There is only one withdrawal allowed per customer so you cannot even take a friend’s card and work a tandem operation. Nope: it’s to the back of the line please for the second card transaction!

A company cheque book at today’s price is $11,000,000 (USD4.400, ZAR 30.550) or $110,000 per page. A company is restricted to a cash allowance of $10,000 per day (USD4, ZAR27.78), half that of an individual. A company pays $110,000 to receive $10,000.

Does this make sense to you?

Meanwhile, in Harare’s Glen Norah suburb residents have resorted to legal action to stop police seizing food aid meant to be distributed to two hundred starving households.

And at one university?
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) said after weeks of just eating boiled cabbage with no salt or oil, the students could take no more when the canteen menu changed to just plain sadza and no relish.

The cash strapped students say the situation was worsened by the fact that they were forced to pay Z$17 billion for their food by the college authorities. Although the money was later reduced to Z$1.6 billion none of the students who had paid the full amount have been reimbursed.

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