Operation Reduce Prices

Africans fretting of signs of impending Venezuelanization...
Africans fretting over signs of impending Venezuelanization…

This bit from the Google Memoryhole has been making the rounds:

Harare, Monday 16 July 2007 – Zimbabweans are shopping like there’s no tomorrow. With police patrolling the aisles of Harare’s electrical shops to enforce massive government-ordered price cuts, the widescreen TVs were the first things to go, for as little as £20. Across the country, shoes, clothes, toiletries and different kinds of food were all swept from the shelves as a nation with the world’s fastest shrinking economy gorged itself on one last spending spree.Car dealers said officials were trying to force them to sell vehicles at the official exchange rate, effectively meaning that a car costing £15,000 could be had for £30 by changing money on the blackmarket. The owners of several dealerships have been arrested.

President Robert Mugabe’s order that all shop prices be cut by at least half, and sometimes several times more, has forced stores to open to hordes of customers waving thick blocks of near worthless money given new value by the price cuts. The police and groups of ruling party supporters could be seen leading the charge for a bargain.

Mr Mugabe has accused business interests of fuelling inflation, running at about 20,000%, to bring down his government. A hotline is in place to report “overcharging”, and retailers who flinch at slashing prices are being dragged before the courts. Several thousand have been arrested for “profiteering” over the past week, including the chief executives of the biggest retailers in the country, some of them foreign-owned.

Economists say the price cuts will only deepen the national crisis, leaving many shops bare because they will not be able to afford to restock while official retail prices remain lower than the cost of buying wholesale or importing. Mr Mugabe has dismissed such warnings as “bookish economics”.

Some businesses fear that Operation Reduce Prices is intended to pin the blame on the private sector for Zimbabwe’s economic problems as a step towards seizing control of many companies in the way that white-owned farms were expropriated at the beginning of the decade, sparking the crisis.

It goes without saying that six years later, Mugabe is still in power.

[Hat tip: GTAvex]

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  1. Nice…and Zimbabwe got a new deal with the Chinese to ease its electricity shortages:
    I just took a look at what Mugabe said about the constitution reforms in other brother country. He talked about how he had ushered a period of political stability. This afternoon I read the “draft” for the new education curriculum at Venezuelan schools. The talk was about teaching pupils about political stability

  2. “It goes without saying that six years later, Mugabe is still in power.”

    The political victory that Maduro will reap thanks to Dakagate (copyright Panfleto Negro, 2013) should come as a shock to no one. Any casual observer of the PSUV commentariat knows that sanctioned shelf emptying is exactly the kind of thing they ask for whenever they dare to vent their frustrations in an Aporrea forum. How long before the video of Eduardo Saman crowd surfing?

  3. ….and Mugabe just “won” his 10.000th reelection this year, I’m appalled at the recent day’s events, this is obviously a populist manouver to turn the tide of public opinion and pull a win in the december election, a move I think is likely to work, in january we’ll face renewed inflation and scarcity, even worse than before, but it won’t really matter since the next elections are like 2 years away and the military is likely to keep licking maduro’s ass. It’s only a short term “fix?”, that is why they didn’t do it before, still, weak minded people will confirm in their little minds all about the “economic war” theory.

    I agree with luis vicente leon’s tweet of yesterday: “@luisvicenteleon: Quien no entiende que el populismo es popular, poco entiende. Pero quien cree que el populismo resolverá su problema, entiende menos.”

    Btw, I ve been unable to comment in the last few days because of an cantv blackout in my neighborhood, several blocks have been more than 4 days without phone nor aba without any public statement from cantv. Today seems that they parcially fixed it, only an even more crappier than usual aba without the phone line. estar sin internet no se lo deseo a nadie.

  4. Friends and relatives of mine are panicking with these latest events. They believe the Maduro-empowered crowds will start rioting and breaking into stores en masse, ransacking and violently hurting clerks. The message is clear: this is not only against the owners of this weekend’s targeted enterprises but against anyone who considers him/herself a business person or entrepreneur selling any good.

    The result? people fear this is a declaration of war, the prelude to Venezuela’s 15-years-late version of the October revolution.

    And it seems this risky move will provide Maduro with many supporters on December. You’d be naive if you expect this to weaken the government. If large, angry crowds are outside stores countrywide, ready to rip gates and locks open, you can only assume these are folks who wholeheartedly believe Maduro’s story of the wolf and the sheep in which the noble government is the poor victim of evil capitalists.

    In general, the events are terrible, but perfectly aligned with the radical views of the retrograds ruling the nation.

  5. This is one of those moments when I wish the country had a formidable leader that could explain to the masses clearly and succinctly why this is wrong and what are the consequences to our economy and to our country

  6. From Wikipedia, “After the Zimbabwean dollar was suspended indefinitely from 12 April 2009, Euro, United States dollar, Pound sterling, South African rand and Botswana pula are used as legal tender. The United States dollar has been adopted as the official currency for all government transactions.”
    Is that where Venezuela is headed?

  7. There are a few distinctions between Zimbabwe and Venezuela. A third of population of Zimbabwe emigrated with tacit support from South Africa. A third, one in three. Mostly young and able, who no longer vote and are no longer a threat. Unless Brazil takes on such an influx of economic refugees, the two shouldn’t be compared.
    Secondly, Mugabe got subtle and not so subtle support from his neighbors, well in excess to what Chavez or Maduro are able to buy, except from Cuba. He was a hero of the indenpendance struggle (much of it made up, but much better than Maduro).

    The situations are dangerously similar, but luckily for Venezuela differ in a few crucial details. It may be enough to make a differance … it also may not, but hope shouldn’t die.

  8. I think this quote sums things up quite well “when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law–men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims–then money becomes its creators’ avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they’ve passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket.”

    Copied from entry “Who is Juan Galt?” on http://www.marginalrevolution.com


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