Mugabe Says He Will Print More Money

President Robert Mugabe promised to print more money to fund municipal projects, despite the hyperinflation that has created severe shortages of cornmeal, meat, milk and other staples, a government newspaper reported Saturday.

Mugabe Says He Will Print More Money

Meanwhile, water shortages worsened due to pump breakdowns, and a senior government official said kidney patients were dying for lack of dialysis machines.

The offical Herald newspaper reported that Mugabe told a meeting of local councilors they should put more pressure on government ministers to improve services.

"Where money for projects has not been found, we will print it," Mugabe was quoted as saying.

The printing of money is generally regarded as a recipe for inflation -- which is officially at 4,500 percent in Zimbabwe, though private economists estimate it to be least twice as high. The government last month ordered sweeping price cuts of around 50 percent, accusing store owners and businesses of fueling the inflation.

Zimbabwe is in the grips of its worst crisis since independence from Britain in 1980. Power, water, health and communications systems are collapsing, and there are acute shortages of staple foods and gasoline. Unemployment is around 80 percent, and political unrest is high.

Mugabe blames Western sanctions and rejects criticism that the meltdown is the result of mismanagement and the often-violent seizures of thousands of white-owned farms he ordered beginning in 2000.

The biggest government hospital group acknowledged Friday that 10 of its 18 kidney dialysis machines were awaiting repair and imported spare parts needing scarce hard currency.

Vice President Joyce Mujuru said kidney patients had died for lack of dialysis machines, and lambasted the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare for not fixing the problem.

Mujuru accused officials at one hospital of not installing the machines in the first place, even though she personally requisitioned the equipment from abroad in 2004.

"This is the sort of ineptitude that we have always been complaining about," she told The Herald.

Lack of hard currency for imports is crippling the health sector.

Pharmacists on Friday advised AIDS patients to stock up on their drugs after local manufacturers warned they would soon run out of imported raw materials. Some 20 percent of Zimbabweans are infected with HIV.

In a sign of other serious problems, water storage drums were sold out Friday in one main Harare hardware store as water shortages worsened. The state water utility said it suffered new breakdowns at its pumping stations.

The government-ordered price controls have denuded stores across the country, with businesses saying they can't afford to sell at the new prices. Some 5,000 managers and gas station and store owners have been arrested and fined for defying the price controls since the order was issued June 26.

Daily power outages are forcing Zimbabweans to light fires for cooking and heating water. State radio reported Friday that a woodlands park used for conservation classes faced collapse because wood poachers had stripped nearly 500 acres of its indigenous msasa trees and other long-burning hardwoods.

AP

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Temmuz 2007, 20:39
YORUM EKLE