The OK supermarket in Mbare township is so empty that your voice echoes off the high warehouse roof.Mugabe's approach to economics - confiscate property from anyone who seems to be working hard and succeeding and then put the government in charge of determining prices has worked out just as anyone could have predicted.
On row after row of white shelving, wiped clean each day, sit a dozen cabbages. The bakery has ten plain scones. That is all the food there is in the largest supermarket serving tens of thousands of people in the oldest, and teeming, township in Harare.
It is now ten weeks since President Mugabe forced businesses to slash prices of all goods and services in the belief that he could crush inflation, which he says is a plot by the Zimbabwean private sector, in collusion with Western governments, to overthrow him.Only the elites and military can find anything to eat in this country. They may soon find themselves presiding over an empty country as people flee or die of starvation. Other dicatators need to take lessons from Mugabe of what not to do if they want to preserve a country to have power over in the first place.
Two things have happened: inflation has rocketed and, according to the Government, the country will run out of wheat in three days. Zimbabweans appear set to face an almost total absence of food and ordinary household goods. An eruption of public anger, to be met with violent suppression by Mr Mugabe’s security forces, is likely to follow, observers say.
Initially Mr Mugabe’s June 25 price blitz sparked a gleeful storming of shops, where managers looked on aghast as their businesses were stripped at the Government’s bidding.
Then household basics such as meat, chicken, cooking oil, milk, maizemeal, margarine, sugar and soap vanished into the black market. In the past couple of weeks it has become almost impossible to find beer, cigarettes, tea or baked beans in shops.