Zimbabweans continue life struggle under weight of economic collapse

By staff writers
September 27, 2007

Even as the African country of Zimbabwe falters under a staggering inflation rate of 7,500 percent, "there is life," a Zimbabwean development workers has told United Methodists and others at a meeting in the USA.

Speaking to members of the Africa University Advisory Development Committee on 21-22 September 2007, the Zimbabwean - who asked for anonymity out of concern about government repercussions - said that while numerous challenges face the sub-Saharan country, the most difficult is shortages of basic commodities on market shelves.

However, food is available outside the established channels. "One has to stretch a little bit to make sure food is on the table," she added.

The development committee, established in 1993, works with the Africa University Development Office in Nashville and agencies of The United Methodist Church to raise money for the school's capital, endowment and operational needs.

Waiting for change The Zimbabwean native assured the committee members that while the country is facing turbulent times, "there is life in Zimbabwe." "We are surviving," she said.

What is happening in Zimbabwe is not new to Africa. "The history of Africa and the history of a lot of African countries is that they all have gone through some of these adversities and have come out of it," she added.

The country has experienced water shortages and drought, a lack of foreign currency, electrical outages, political repression, economic hardships and poverty. An estimated four out of five Zimbabweans live below the poverty line. Since 2002, an estimated 3 million residents have fled to South Africa alone, while others have gone to Zambia and Botswana.

"A few years ago, Angola faced similar economic challenges, but today has the fastest-growing economy in the world, at 35 percent, making it three times the growth of the United States," said the Zimbabwean, who does business throughout the continent.

Critics of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe blame government mismanagement for much of the nation's woes. At 83, Mugabe has been Zimbabwe's only president since the country achieved independence from Britain 27 years ago.

His tenure has been marked by economic crises that include chronic shortages of food and fuel. Unemployment today is estimated at above 80 percent, and human rights leader Desmond Tutu, former Anglican archbishop of Capetown, has called for Africa and the world to pay attention to Zimbabwe's plight.

With acknowledgments to the United Methodist News Service

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