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Disaster looming in Zimbabwe

Imagine a country where the economy has not grown since the 1960s and where infant mortality has not improved in 30 years.

In the meantime, neighbouring countries have got wealthier and healthier.

In this country, the ruling party has been in power for 37 years but is riven by intense factional infighting.

Peaceful political opponents, including former allies of the ruling party, are being harassed and arrested.

Such a situation could go on for a long time, but here there is a catch.

The country’s president is 93 years old.

Welcome to Zimbabwe.

The country that once led the world in providing free health care and education in the 1980s is now in trouble.

The economy has stagnated, public services are failing and political tensions are mounting.

The man in charge is old and increasingly frail.

Last year, President Robert Mugabe spent US $50 million on trips to Singapore, 8000 km from home, for medical treatment.

He routinely falls asleep at public events, though his spokesman says Mugabe is “resting his eyes”.

He appears unable to resolve the civil war within his own party, in which one faction is led by his vice-president and the other by his wife, who is clearly angling to succeed him.

Ministers and senior officials routinely insult each other on social media and in the government-owned newspapers.

It’s become a circus.

Meanwhile, human rights violations are rife.

Elections are scheduled for 2018 and allegations are already circulating that voter registration favours government sympathizers.

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