Zimbabwe crisis taxing neighbors

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Scott Jagow: Maybe we should get some perspective. The people in Zimbabwe have economic problems way beyond what’s happening here. There was an election two weeks ago – and they still don’t know the results. The countries around Zimbabwe are getting very restless. Gretchen Wilson reports from South Africa.

Gretchen Wilson:
It’s becoming harder and harder for the region’s leaders to ignore the situation in Zimbabwe. Dale McKinley is a political analyst in Johannesburg.

Dale McKinley: It’s a hyper-crisis. We’ve gone beyond the crisis point. When 80 percent of your population has no work, when there’s no basic food stuffs. we’re in meltdown.

It’s a meltdown that’s pushed a quarter of Zimbabwe’s population — an estimated 3 million people — to flee the country. Zimbabweans have flooded poor communities in neighboring countries, where they compete with locals for resources. That’ll continue if Zimbabwe becomes unlivable. But with inflation topping 100,000 percent, can it really get any worse?

McKinley: Yes, it can get worse. Even those goods that are available could disappear even further. These basic issues — water, electricity, things that people need to survive — there’s no indication that things are getting any better. In fact, they’re getting worse.

The region’s leaders called on Zimbabwe to release election results quickly to avoid greater instability.

In Johannesburg, I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2008

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