"We used to look at Botswana as our poor cousin, but now we do all of our shopping there," said David Coltart, an opposition member of the Zimbabwean parliament, when I met him a few months ago. The Coltarts are doing relatively well. David's successful legal practice and parliamentary salary enable them to shop in Botswana—if only to buy basic necessities. Most of their countrymen do not have that option.
Zimbabwe suffers from an 80 percent unemployment rate and, according to the International Monetary Fund, an inflation rate exceeding 150,000 percent. Since 1994, the average life expectancy for women in Zimbabwe has fallen from 57 years to 34 years; among men it has dropped from 54 years to 37 years. Some 3,500 Zimbabweans die every week from the combined effects of HIV/AIDS, poverty, and malnutrition. Half a million Zimbabweans may have died since 2000, while some 3 million fled to South Africa alone.
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