Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell told journalists in Bulawayo Monday that an accelerated economic collapse marked by a monthly doubling of the 4,000%-plus inflation rate is also bringing fundamental political change closer.
Dell, citing economic projections that hyperinflation could exceed 1 million percent by year's end if the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe keeps printing money, said the economic forces could drive the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe from power.
Dell said in a press briefing that Zimbabwe is closer to political change than at any other time since the country became independent in 1980. But he expressed cautious optimism about the mediation process launched by South African President Thabo Mbeki, involving representatives of the ruling party and the political opposition.
Dell, soon to conclude his tenure as ambassador, was making a farewell visit to Zimbabwe's second largest city.
Correspondent Netsai Mlilo filed a report from Bulawayo.