I do love a good con story and this one is as good as it gets. According to The Times a spirit medium named Nomatter Tangarira managed to convince senior Mugabe administration officials that she could bring forth an endless supply of refined diesel oil directly from a rock by tapping said rock a few times with her magic stick. No doubt the officials felt doubly blessed: miraculous enough to find oil, but to have it come out of the ground already refined was really something to behold alright. These bureaucrats were so impressed they paid her GBP1.7 million (before outrageous inflation kicked in), gave her and the rock 24 hour armed guard and assigned a high level task force to decide what to do next. It was not until the second high level task force appointed visited the rock that the ruse was discovered: a pipe behind the rock running to a distant dowser up the hill, where diesel was released on cue by a dutiful
Humour aside it is sad to see how desperate things have become in Zimbabwe. I visited the country with Unicef back in 2000 and already things were pretty bad. Today inflation is running at near 4500%, 70% unemployment, 20% are facing malnutrition and this number is expected to double in the next 6 months. According to the UN World Food Programme 2.1 million people are hungry and by early 2008 this will grow to 4.1 million with the country producing just 1.29 million tons of cereal against a national requirement of 2.34 million tons. WFP also report life expectancy is now 37 years, 83% of population live on less than $2 per day and yet adult literacy is still over 80%.
What is all the more tragic is the sheer beauty and abundance of the place, great people, great land, great resources.