Bail on the Black Market

04.08.2008

Sadly, the roundup of foreign journalists continues in Zimbabwe as Mugabe does everything in his power to control the media and force his will on the Zimbabwean people in the wake of losing the presidential election.  Hidden in a story about the arrest of a New York Times journalist I found a startling detail that highlights the sad state of things:

Mr. Bearak’s passport was confiscated, and he was required to put up 300 million Zimbabwe dollars as bail, about $10,000 at official exchange rates but only about $7 at black market rates.

It is hard for some of us to imagine living in such an upside-down world where inflation is so high that paying $7 in bail is even possible. It borders on the absurd that there could be so large a difference between the nominal and real value of a currency. Surely to those following events in Zimbabwe for the past couple of years, this comes as no surprise as inflation has been spiraling out of control for some time.  It is just one more sad anecdote from a country that is teetering on economic and political collapse.