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How Did Zimbabwe End Up with Just $217 in the Bank?

The Zimbabwe government reached an all-time low when their public bank account revealed $217 within it. With the upcoming elections and their citizens suffering from hunger and poverty, international aid was deemed necessary. 

After providing the salaries of the civil servants, the finance minister of Zimbabwe announced that there was only $217 in the government’s account, commenting that the bank accounts of public officials had more money.

The Zimbabwe Financial Crisis

In early 2013, Zimbabwe announced that the public bank account of the Zimbabwean government only had $217. The Finance Minister and the Secretary-General of the Movement for Democratic Change party, Tendai Biti, told the press that when the government paid the salary of the civil servants, the government funds have only amounted to $217. Biti explains further that the Zimbabwean government is in a “paralysis state” as they haven’t made any progress with the targets they’ve set.

With no money for the upcoming elections and $104,000,000 needed to arrange election polls, Biti expresses the need for international aid regarding Zimbabwe’s financial crisis.

The economy of Zimbabwe had faced another financial crisis back in 1997 when Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe at that time, allowed war veterans to receive a pension. The economy also descended majorly when the seizing of white-owned farms happened, leaving the agricultural sector distraught in 2000. Millions of people were starving and dying as hyperinflation left the national currency in shambles.

The Zimbabwean economy would grow up to 5% due to the stability that the US dollar adoption bought. Additionally, the national budget rises to 3.8 billion dollars. Zimbabweans have continuously complained that these growing numbers do not reflect their situations as many remain struggling.

An estimated number of more than 1.5 million people continue to starve after an unsuccessful farming year. The United Nations state that Zimbabwe needs 131 million dollars to respond to the mass hunger crisis.

There have been some assertions that the economy is getting better but as ordinary people, we have not been seeing it. Without foreign direct investment coming in and with some companies leaving because of uncertainty, I wonder where these assertions are coming from. 

McDonald Lewanika, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director 

(Source: The Guardian

The High-Cost Diamond Trade 

A top mining officer reported to the press that Zimbabwe made an estimated 685 million dollars in selling massive amounts of diamonds. Government-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation Chairperson, Goodwills Masimirembwa, expresses his desire to double the exports in 2012. From 8 million carats, he wishes to increase it to more than 16 million carats.

Masimirembwa further explains that diamond sales would’ve soared higher if only the United States didn’t threaten their customers. Zimbabwe trading companies also faced stricter sanctions. (

Despite the high sales in diamonds, Tendai Biti voices his complaints with the diamond mining companies, stating that the government only received $40,000,000. Masimirembwa responded to that accusation, saying that diamond mining companies have always remitted 15% of their royalties.

Partnership Africa Canada remarks that in the span of four years, 2 billion dollars worth of diamonds were stolen out of the country by ministers and military officers connected to Robert Mugabe, the president.

The stolen diamonds and the lack of transferred funds weren’t the only problems. Activists declared abuses to human rights that the workers have experienced in the Marange diamond mines. These declarations of abused human rights amplified as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme removed tight monitoring in diamond sales. (Source: News 24)

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