Zimbabwe—already world-famous for having destroyed the prosperous economy and infrastructure inherited from its former white rulers—this week collapsed beyond parody when its finance minister was photographed in a ribbon-cutting opening ceremony for a trash bin.
As reported—in all seriousness—by the Zimbabwe News (ZWNews) newspaper, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa “officially opened” the garbage bin at a ceremony on June 19 at the north-eastern town of Rusape in that country.
Photographs taken of the event show Chinamasa, wearing a brown suit with a flower lapel, grinning widely while cutting a bright ribbon stretched over a large bin.
According to ZWNews, the ceremony was attended by several government officials and members of the public.
The opening of the bin was “in line with the health ministry’s bid to promote a clean environment in the country following outbreaks of diseases as a result of garbage dumping at undesignated places,” the report said.
There was clearly more than one trash bin at the opening ceremony, as the pictures supplied with the article showed Chinamasa standing in front of at least two different bins doing the honors.
The ridiculousness of the “ceremony” was not lost on some Zimbabweans, including that of local opposition cleric Evan Mawarire.
Writing on his Facebook page, Mawarire said Chinamasa said that “Former Facebook monitoring minister Patrick Chinamasa, who was promoted to finance minister, officially opened a bin in Rusape!
“A BIN??? No No No No this can’t be the future guys NO! To see the sadness of this think about how many SUV’s drove out hundreds of kilometers for this?
“How many high level civil servants were away from work accompanying the minister?
“How much [sic] man hours is this? Meanwhile cash is still not available for the poorest of our citizens and the economy is dead.
“Why is the minister of finance officially opening bins?? I’m done.”
As the Financial Times reported in November 2017, Zimbabwe inherited a well-diversified economy with potential to become one of sub-Saharan Africa’s best performers from its previous white-rulers.
“Today, Zimbabwe is the region’s basket case, with real per capita incomes down 15 per cent since 1980,” the FT said.
Industrial output today is less than 10 percent of GDP, against a peak in the early 1990s of 25 percent.
Non-farm employment at about 850,000 is unchanged from the late 1980s, while the number of industrial jobs has fallen from more than 200,000 to 90,000.
“Today, the public sector excluding the military — mostly teachers, health workers and civil servants — accounts for more than 40 per cent of formal employment,” the FT added.
“Land reform”—when blacks violently seized white farms, murdering many of the whites in the process—accelerated economic decline exponentially, with real GDP plunging 45 per cent in the decade to 2009. Farm production collapsed and by 2008 output volumes were two-thirds below their peak levels in 2000.
The resultant hyperinflation peaked at about 500-billion percent at the end of 2008, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), leading to the nation abandoning its own currency in favor of a basket of foreign exchange, including the South African rand, the US dollar, the euro and the UK pound, as well as so-called bond notes printed by the government.