Zimbabwe is ‘beyond crisis point’

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The United Nations Security Council meets today to discuss Zimbabwe. Voters are anxious to learn whether Robert Mugabe will continue to run the country or whether the opposition candidate will take over. Gretchen Wilson reports from Johannesburg.

Gretchen Wilson:
Analysts say a win for Mugabe would likely deepen the economic crisis. One reason: Inflation. Mugabe’s government prints money at supersonic speeds, making it difficult for businesses or consumers to keep up. Cash is quickly traded for food, gasoline or other commodities that will hold their value. Food is so scarce that one-fifth of the population relies on international food aid. And Western businesses and international lending bodies have largely pulled out of Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s rule. Dale McKinley is a political analyst in Johannesburg.

Dale McKinley: So, it’s gone beyond crisis point. I think, the question on everybody’s minds is, How low can one go before this implodes and explodes?

Western countries — including Australia, Norway and Sweden — have said they’ll pony up cash to rebuild Zimbabwe’s economy, if the vote is deemed transparent and democratic, and if the government revamps its fiscal policies. There could be a broader fallout if Mugabe claims another victory. The opposition party and international human rights groups say post-election violence threatens to destabilize the region.

In Johannesburg, I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2008

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