Thirty-seven years ago Robert Mugabe inherited a well-diversified economy with potential to become one of sub-Saharan Africa’s best performers. Today, Zimbabwe is the region’s basket case, with real per-capita incomes down 15% since 1980. "The economy is in very bad shape," said Welshman Ncube, a businessman and prominent opposition politician, who said that the economic crisis and the difficulty the government had in paying soldiers and civil servants formed part of the background to last week’s military takeover. "Even if I have $10,000 in the bank, my bank can only give me $20 a day. The liquidity crunch is severe." The queues to withdraw precious dollars from ATMs hours after the army’s intervention last week were just the latest example of a need for hard currency, reflecting grinding economic difficulties that go back years. In 2009, Zimbabwe was forced to abandon its currency — which had gone up in an inferno of hyperinflation — and to adopt the dollar as its principal means ...

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