AP, December 14, 2008
Zimbabwe on Saturday accused the West of waging biological warfare and starting a cholera epidemic that has killed hundreds of people and sickened thousands.
The state-run Herald newspaper quoted the information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, as blaming the cholera outbreak on “serious biological chemical war . . . a genocidal onslaught on the people of Zimbabwe by the British.”
“Cholera is a calculated racist terrorist attack on Zimbabwe by the unrepentant former colonial power which has enlisted support from its American and Western allies so that they invade the country,” Ndlovu was quoted as saying.
The Herald said comments by the U.S. ambassador that the United States had been preparing for the cholera outbreak had raised suspicions.
President Robert Mugabe said Thursday that his government, with the help of international agencies, had contained the epidemic.
Zimbabwe’s central bank has introduced a 500 million dollar note, as the African country struggles to cope with the world’s highest inflation and crippling currency shortages.
The half-billon note, worth about $US10 ($A14.89), was released on Friday, together with a 200 million dollar bill, which the central bank said in a statement was introduced for the “convenience” of the public.
Finance minister Samuel Mumbengegwi announced the new bills in a government gazette, bringing to 29 the number of new notes put into circulation this year alone.
Just last Thursday, Zimbabwe introduced a 100 million dollar bill that at the time was worth $US14 ($A20.84). One week later, it’s worth less than 50 cents.
Zimbabwe’s highest inflation was last estimated in July at 231 million per cent but is now believed to be much higher.
The central bank struggles to print money fast enough to keep pace with prices that rise several times in a day.
Due to currency shortages, cash can now only be withdrawn once a week from banks. Ordinary people can take out 500 million dollars a week while companies are permitted to withdraw 50 million dollars.
Winding queues in banks are commonplace in Zimbabwe as people take hours to withdraw money which is still not enough to see them through the day, while others sleep outside banks to get money the next day.
Once the region’s breadbasket, the country is now battling widespread food shortages while cholera has killed nearly 800 people since late August, according to the United Nations.