That $100 Trillion Currency Note – by GEORGE BRAINE

That $100 Trillion Currency Note – by GEORGE BRAINE

George Braine


When he died, a few articles in Sinhala newspapers and online sites glorified the late Robert Mugabe, (who blamed his self-inflicted disasters on the West), as the liberator and savior of his country. What I detect in these articles is an irrational anti-Western, anti-white bias that has crept into the Sinhala media.

Enough ranting.

That $100 Trillion Currency Note - by GEORGE BRAINE


Robert Mugabe fought heroically against the white racist regime of Ian Smith in Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe was then called), and spent years in jail. He came out with three university degrees, and after Britain negotiated a transfer of power, became Prime Minister in 1980 and later the President. Articulate and friendly to the media, he was hailed as a beacon of democracy. All praiseworthy.

But, that didn’t last long. Time and time again, he proved that he would go to any length to stay in power. Starting from 1983 for a period of four years, the army, trained by North Koreans, launched a scorched earth policy in Matabeleland provinces against the Ndebele people, who were opposed to Mugabe. About 20,000 were ruthlessly killed.

In 2000, Mugabe launched a disastrous land reform program targeting large, highly productive, white owned farms. Instead of redistributing the land among poor blacks (especially so called “war veterans”) as promised, he gave the land to his cronies. After the farms were seized, often violently, the country’s agriculture based economy collapsed. The scheme is generally acknowledged as Mugabe’s biggest blunder. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a vocal critic, said that Mugabe “destroyed a wonderful country, a country which used to be a breadbasket, which has now become a basket case”. 

In 2007, inflation rose to an unbelievable 11 million percent; the currency note, which has 14 zeros in it, was issued in 2008. Unemployment rose to 80 percent. There were cholera outbreaks, which Mugabe blamed on the “former colonial masters”. Hundreds of thousands of squatters, who had left devastated rural areas for the capital Harare, were forcibly evicted. Millions fled the country.

After holding onto power for nearly 40-years, Mugabe was finally deposed in 2017. But he continued to live in a 25-room mansion built by the Chinese. His second wife, Grace, 40-years his junior, considered the “evil influence” on Mugabe, was notorious for her shopping sprees in London, Paris, and Singapore. One of her nicknames is “Gucci Grace”. Their children are multi-millionaires.

When I lived in Hong Kong, the Mugabes were involved in a scandal there. While higher education in Zimbabwe was in tatters, their daughter Bona was enrolled at a Hong Kong university. For her, a house was bought for the equivalent of US$5 million in 2008, the same year that the $100 trillion notes were issued. When journalists went to investigate, they were assaulted by Grace Mugabe, who could not be arrested because she had “diplomatic immunity”.

Robert Mugabe even died in style, in a 5-star Singapore hospital, which, by the way, is a favorite refuge of Sri Lankan politicians and aspiring politicians.

As for the famous currency notes, Zimbabwe $100 trillion was worth US$0.40 at the time they were issued!

There must be a lesson for Sri Lanka somewhere here.



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