"Zimbabwe's new government hopes to start seeing results from an economic recovery plan after 100 days, state media reported on Saturday. The new unity government of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai faces the daunting task of reversing years of economic decline marked by hyper-inflation and severe food and fuel shortages. The administration has said its short-term emergency recovery programme STERP will require $8.5 billion over the next two to three years. It will depend heavily on help from Western donors and Harare wants financial assistance from countries in the regional grouping SADC. Mugabe, who critics blame for the country's economic crisis, told a government reconstruction summit in the resort town of Victoria Falls that there was no time to waste. He blames Western sanctions for Zimbabwe's economic downfall. "It is our collective hope that after the 100 days, the country will begin experiencing a firm and determined walk on the road to economic stabilisation and recovery," Mugabe said." [Reuters, Africa] The Zimbawean inflation rate officially reached 'several' hundred million % last winter - 'realistic' estimates placed it in the hundreds of quadrillions. Since Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in January, things have ... changed. Figures recently released show Zimbabwe saw the first month on month fall in prices (in $US terms prices fell 3.1% in February, 2.3% in January) since 2005. Prices for stapes such as bread, maize and oil have halved since December. Because of this de facto currency 'change' (in January Zimababwe switched to using USD and ZAR in shops, utitities etc) there is no 'baseline' so any figures may be unreliable. But even if they're not, Zimbabwe still faces a massive struggle. Trying to assess meaningful figures at this stage is risky, but as a real world example, one effect of the change is that supermarket shelves are now stocked, and prices stay 'constant' for days at a time as opposed to hours. Sadly, few being able to afford much of what's on sale rather negates this benefit. Meanwhile, there's no money to pay many Government employees (civil servants will now receive $US100 per month), and Zimbabwe owes upward of $30Million (US) in overseas embassy staff salaries. Many employees at overseas missions have have been evicted from their homes, seeking 'refuge' in their ambassadors residences. Before some mouth breather chimes in with a trite inannity; yes, I know any actual hardship said employees may be incurring may be minimal, but that's not the point I was seeking to make. To illustrate just how surreal things are in Zimbabwe have become; billion and trillion dollar notes ($Z) were thown as confetti at the PM's inaugural bash in February. This month, Mugabe is attempting to 'woo' Unity Government Minsters (all of them) with brand new E Class Mercedes - as well as paying 15,000 PF thugs (he recruited them during the '08 election) USD100 each month as 'civil servants'. Even if the world had $8.5Billion to offer, it would be insane to advance a cent of it while Mugabe remains. For those grandstanding about the current US administration's alleged fiscal incompetence, bemoaning 'woe is me', just be grateful you don't have the likes of Gideon Gono in decision making roles. I simply offer the above as a small but timely reality check.