How did Zimbabwe become so poor and yet so expensive?


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A haircut for US$20! Yogurt for US$5. And a coke for US$2. That is Zimbabwe. A country where the average wage is US$253 a month yet a two-week membership at a gym is US$60 and only a few years ago a teacher used to earn a mere 72 US cents.

People have no sense of the United States dollar. Gasoline for example goes for US$6 a gallon and broadband internet is $200 a month.

This is the Zimbabwe that Michael Hobbes, who says he was in the country for a human rights research project, writes about in the latest edition of the New Republic.

“Zimbabwe faces impossible challenges, unbearable choices. It has been a hard country to live in for the last ten years, and it is likely to remain one for the next ten. Every hyperinflation leaves a legacy that lasts for generations. In Zimbabwe, that legacy is just beginning,” Hobbes writes.

And he says, the country needs an investment of US$45 billion to return to its 1997 level, the year the melt-down began.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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