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Black Friday November 14 1997

29 Nov 2021 at 19:08hrs | Views
The day the Zimbabwe currency tumbled or hit the lowest mark was in 1997 when war veterans got Z$50 000 in gratuities each from the former late President Robert Mugabe's government after they embarked on a series of protests pushing the ruling party to honour their demands.

The unbudgeted payouts which amounted to $US2000 saw the Zimbabwean dollar losing its value by 70% in one day signaling the genesis of economic collapse, poor service delivery and heralding the great depression in the country.

I vividly recall the day and a lot of people named it black Friday, when the once mighty Zimbabwe dollar plunged from 1:12 to the greenback to an embarrassing 1:75 overnight.

This was the worst ever rate experienced in the country since independence. It was just equivalent to the October 29 ,1929, "Black Tuesday" hit Wall Street Crash in Germany where millions of dollars were lost, wiping out thousands of investors.

Most companies and business could not stand the economic heat and hyper-inflationary environment and they relocated to other countries like South Africa, Zambia and Botswana.

Apart from money the got from the state, they pressed for diamond mining concessions and parliamentary seats as well. It was a command request.

They believed that a diamond mining licence would form part of an income generating project for their members. The war veterans demands did not end there even today they keep on pressing for more demands after demands.

After they got paid this windfall they squandered it all on booze and women. One bought two truck loads of cabbage and fed his cows.

And another war veteran in Zaka Jerera, hired System Tazvida and his entire band to play for his household on their veranda, all night long.

It was extreme madness in human history. Some people masquaraded as war veterans and benefited from this money because there was not even accountability.

The unemployment rate in the country soared as most companies closed because of poor economic performance. The government grappled with paying it's civil servants resulting in printing of more money to cater for such needs.

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Twitter - @Leokoni

Source - Leonard Koni
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