April 11, 2006

Economy the fastest shrinking in the world

The Zimbabwean government has defended using security and intelligence personnel to oversee the revival of the economy, described as the fastest shrinking in the world outside of a war zone. Local media reported that a new economic and food security revival body, known as the Zimbabwe National Security Council (ZNSC), which includes officials from the Central Intelligence Organisation, the army, police, prison services and the Registrar-General's office, had been set up to oversee and enhance the capacity of ministries. "There is nothing sinister with involving security force personnel in areas like the economy and food security: the government is doing what is best for Zimbabwe. Any complaints to the contrary are only meant to rubbish a genuine economic revival and food security programme," Obert Mpofu, the minister of industry and international trade, claimed.

In the meantime, a freeze on private health care charges has been lifted, the Herald newspaper has announced, allowing fees to double. From April 1, general practitioners' consultation fees have gone up by 100 percent to $58 (about R360), the paper said, adding that specialist physician fees have also been doubled. "I do not want to kill the private sector. I want it to thrive so that it can complement the public health sector," Herald quoted Health Minister David Parirenyatwa. The charges follow a raft of basic commodity price in response to a sharp jump in inflation, now the highest in the world. Official figures showed inflation vaulted to 913,6 percent in the year to March, triggering a 60 percent jump in the cost of bread for urban dwellers whose salaries have failed to keep up with soaring costs. (IOL, South Africa / The Herald, Harare)


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