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Zimbabwe's bankrupt regime has been consistent about one thing: the repeated claim that a big recovery is right around the corner. Of course, instead the economy just continues to implode, and now Zimbabweans are back to an average income not seen since the 1940s. President Robert Mugabe has just given an interview where he stuck to the same old script:
…Government has been aware of the suffering. The food area, the prices …and inflation rising but as you read the figures recently, inflation is going down and it's starting a new trend of the turnaround of the economy.
First of all, the 'falling inflation' that he is touting as a sign of economic rebound was from 1194% in May to 1185% in June. Some recovery! Just as silly, Mugabe trotted out the same old scapegoats for the economy's problems:
There is no doubt about it that the basic commodities, the essentials…are being priced beyond the reach of the average person. And this is because of the circumstances in which we are, and these are the circumstances of an economy under siege… because of the actions of our enemies led by Britain who have imposed sanctions on us….[The UK has been] intercepting arrangements that we would have put in place for the supply of fuel.
But Zimbabweans know better. They know that inflation in neighboring countries is in single digits and that the ZANU-PF regime is the main reason their once-thriving economy has collapsed. The question is: does Mugabe know it or is he starting to believe his own lies? I used to think his paranoid delusions were just part of the usual propaganda to deflect criticism and attack his opponents. But recently, I am beginning to wonder if he really does believe that external plots are somehow causing Zimbabwe's inflation. His growing reliance on the security forces for things like tax collection and recent absurd comments (such as his view of monetary policy: "I will print money today so that people can survive") suggest that his economic illiteracy is so deep that perhaps he genuinely does think that the current crisis could only come from enemies in London or Washington.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.