Zimbabwe continues to experience critical food and fuel shortages. Its annual inflation rate is over one-thousand percent, the highest in the world. Inflation is so high the government recently had to re-denominate its currency, lobbing off three zeroes so computers could handle the inflated money. Zimbabwean shoppers have to carry piles of cash for even small purchases.
Agriculture, once the bedrock of the Zimbabwean economy, is a shadow of its former self. Zimbabwe, which was a major food exporter, now cannot feed itself, even after a growing season with good rains.
President Robert Mugabe precipitated this crisis by expropriating most commercial farms and turning them over to cronies, family members, and others incapable of farming productively.
Notwithstanding the country's massive economic and agricultural crisis, the Mugabe government is reportedly purchasing six warplanes from China in addition to the six purchased from that country in 2004, at a cost of some one-hundred-twenty million dollars. Zimbabwe also plans to purchase two-hundred-twenty vehicles to be used by army officers. While it is buying warplanes and vehicles for the military, food insecurity and poverty continue to grow.
The United Nations is undertaking appeals to maintain programs for children, development and basic foodstuff. Recently, the World Food Program launched an appeal for two-hundred-fifty-million dollars in food aid for the more than one-million Zimbabweans who will need assistance to get through next June.
Since 2002, the United States has provided almost four-hundred-million dollars' worth of food assistance to the people of Zimbabwe. President George W. Bush said Zimbabwe, "has not been a good case study for democracy":
"We are. . . .concerned about a country that was able to, for example, feed herself, now has to import food as an example of the consequences of not adhering to democratic principles."
President Bush cited Zimbabwe as one of several countries in need of fundamental reform. He said, "At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half -- in places like Syria and Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran -- because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom as well."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.