A United States State Department report released this month says a campaign of personal plunder, masquerading as "land reform" was a tool for the government to steal, murder, abuse and rape its people into submission. Instead of land reform, it says, from 2000 onward, Zimbabwe got a land grab in which one privileged elite seized land from another. Government's land policies were ruinous with more than half of the 600 000 workers who were employed in the commercial farming sector losing their jobs. The tobacco industry which boasted a workforce of 300 000 will wither over the next 3 or 4 years.
Manufactured exports are reported to have declined by 55 percent over the last five years largely because of depressed demand arising from a decline in consumer purchasing power, high operating costs and severe shortages of foreign currency. Problems facing most companies have been compounded by high wage demands, loss of export competitiveness and reduced margins due to price controls.
High production costs, low mineral prices on the international market and an overvalued exchange rate were responsible for the slump in the mining sector. Output for nickel, chrome ore, coal, iron ore and gold were down while those for copper, asbestos, high-carbon ferrochrome and platinum increased.
The price of fresh milk has soared with a new 300ml sachet selling for double the controlled price of a 500 ml sachet. It is selling for $210. But for once, the milk is now readily available on the supermarket shelves.