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It’s unthinkable that a country would have less money in its bank account than the average American, but that’s the story that Zimbabwe officials are telling. After paying public workers’ salaries at the end of the week, the Zimbabwe government’s bank account had a balance of just $217, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said Tuesday.
“Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 (left) in government coffers,” Biti told journalists in the capital Harare. He continued, saying that some of the reporters probably had more money than the government.
“The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment. We are failing to meet our targets” he said.
In this situation, failing to meet targets seems a gross understatement. Zimbabwe’s government has been in a tailspin ever since President Mugabe began seizing land from white owned farmers. That decision by Mugabe left investors fleeing the country and resulted in international sanctions.
It has been over a decade since Mugabe began that policy, and although the country is more stable, it still is not an economic environment that investors view as having potential for growth.
Zimbabwe has endured hyperinflation and turmoil since Mugabe’s decision threw the country into chaos. Now, Biti says, he has no choice but to go and beg the international community for cash.
“We will be approaching the international community,” he said.
Zimbabwe is a mineral rich country which has a national budget of $3.8 billion.