Special Update: Political Unrest
Arriving in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, we enter the world of politics. Politics and economics are a common topic these days in Zimbabwe. The political party currently in power is called the ZANU PF party. The opposition party is the MDC. Currently the situation in Zimbabwe is quite volatile as the ruling party has made some unpopular decisions that have affected the stability of the economic situation. As a result, there are shortages of fuel and food as well as tourists and the value of the Zimbabwean Dollar has dropped 100%.
The official exchange rate for the U.S. dollar is currently about 56 Zim to 1 USD. However the unofficial rate is anywhere from 100 - 120 Zim to 1 USD. While this has been helpful to us, the lack of tourists has certainly affected everyone that we have come into contact with and they are all unhappy with the current situation.
The poor exchange rate combined with the government's actions has also had an affect on the farms. With fuel costs soaring and the farmers' fear of farm invasions by "war veterans", few farmers have actually planted anything. On our drive into Harare, we passed miles and miles of fallow, unplanted farmland. Talk is of possible food shortages in the future.
Elections for a new president are scheduled for March 2002, and the consensus among the locals with whom we meet is that things will likely get worse before then. We feel for the people's problems and hope things get better.
DATED July 30, 2002:
The existing president, President Mugabe, did everything within his power to guarantee his "re-election". The country has spiraled down to where the population is on the brink of the worst starvation in Africa in over 20 years. The currency has continued to devalue where the unofficial exchange rate is 150 time the legal rate.