After years of out of control hyperinflation, at the end of last month, the nation of Zimbabwe announced it only had $217 to its name. By this point, what with salaries and normal expenditures, that’s probably more like negative a billion Zimbabwe dollars.
"Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 (left) in government coffers," Biti told journalists in the capital Harare, claiming some of them had healthier bank balances than the state.
“The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment. We are failing to meet our targets.”
Zimbabwe’s economy went into free-fall at the turn of the millennium, after President Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms.
The move demolished investor confidence in the country, paralysed production, prompted international sanctions and scared off tourists.
After more than a decade — in which the country suffered hyper-inflation of 231 million percent and infrastructure that crumbled as quickly as prices went up — the situation is now more stable. But public finances remain a mess and local business battles against unstable electricity supplies, lack of liquidity and high labour costs.
Zimbabwe’s government has warned it does not have enough money to fund a constitutional referendum and elections expected this year.
Biti said that left no choice but to ask the donors for cash.
“We will be approaching the international community,” he said.
The country’s elections agency said it requires $104 million to organise the vote.
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