Zimbabwe’s billionaires face daily struggle to make ends meet

HARARE, June 27, 2008 (AFP) – The prices at Dzidzai Guti’s makeshift stall can seem eye-popping, with rotting oranges, a pack of cigarettes and bananas fetching as much as 250 million Zimbabwean dollars. But the 27-year-old gardener struggles. He and his wife, who works as a maid, live in a room in the back of his boss’s house and combine breakfast and lunch to save money.

He runs the stall — nothing more than a table top balanced on bricks — to supplement his income in a country with the world’s highest inflation rate and major food shortages.

“I am supposed to work in the mornings in the garden and rest in the afternoon, but I don’t have the luxury to rest,” he says.

“It’s hard, but I would starve if I didn’t do that.”

Zimbabweans had been hoping for an end to the economic freefall ahead of the country’s presidential elections, with the first round held on March 29 and the run-off on Friday.

But with the opposition leader pulling out of the race days ahead of the run-off and President Robert Mugabe pushing ahead with the vote anyway, essentially giving himself a victory by default, those hopes now seem slim.

The ludicrously high inflation rates and food shortages have h