AN end to the suffering of the Zimbabwean people under Robert Mugabe may be in sight, although not because of any effective action against him by other African states or, indeed, by those Western advocates of active intervention in other countries whose populations have been oppressed. The truth is that Zimbabwe is about to implode. An organisation known as the Heads of Agencies Contact Group, whose 34 members working in Zimbabwe include the United Nations, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Oxfam, has reported that within six months Mugabe's government will be paralysed by inflation and that the possibility of civil unrest cannot be ruled out. The cost of living for an average urban family rose by 66 per cent last month and in April inflation stood at 3'700 per cent. Employers in Zimbabwe may soon have to pay their staff on a daily basis because prices are escalating so rapidly.

The Agencies Contact Group is warning its head offices of the impending disaster and of the urgent need that will arise for various forms of assistance when economic collapse comes and is followed by massive unemployment, crime and civil disturbance. Although the fall of Mugabe and his henchmen will be welcomed in Africa it is likely that Zimbabweans themselves will have further suffering to endure before their nightmare is finally over. Their friends in Africa and more widely should be ready to help restore a degree of normalcy in whatever way they can.


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