Tags: zimbabwe | 217 | left | coffers

Zimbabwe Has Just $217 Left in the Bank, Finance Minister Admits

By Alexandra Ward   |   Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013 11:12 AM

Zimbabwe has just $217 in the bank as its government slips into a state of "paralysis," the country's finance minister admitted Tuesday, according to The Atlantic Wire.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced at a press conference Tuesday that after paying government employees' salaries last week, the southern African country is on the verge of a total fiscal breakdown.

"The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment," Biti told reporters. "We are failing to meet our targets."

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Zimbabwe has had years of economic problems, stemming from authoritarian president, Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980. In 2000, Mugabe, now 88, instituted his controversial policy that involved expropriating land owned by 4,000 white farmers and handing it to blacks, effectively shutting down the country's agriculture system, The Atlantic said.

Over the last decade, Zimbabwe has struggled to emerge from an extended period of hyperinflation, which peaked in 2008 at 11,200,000 percent, according to The Atlantic. Economists declared the country's situation hopeless.

Zimbabwe, despite possessing fantastic mineral wealth, is now one of the continent's poorest countries, according to the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper. Three-quarters of the population live on roughly $1.50 a day and over half of the work force is unemployed. A new coalition government formed in 2008 to begin the long process of recovery, but it will be years before Zimbabwe is financially viable again.

Zimbabwe now faces a $104 million bill for its upcoming election and charges of corruption among government officials. Tim Fernholz, a writer at the all-digital global news site Quartz, believes a major change is needed.

"But action against corruption probably won’t come until the end of Mugabe’s reign, and a new constitution coming up for a referendum this spring — presuming the funds can be found — might set up the aging autocrat for another term in power," Fernholz writes.

In the meantime, Biti says he plans on reaching out to the international community for help, according to The Atlantic.

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