Rampant inflation, unemployment running at around 80%, a lunatic thug in charge of the brutal ruling party and an opposition that is regularly -and literally - beaten into submission. Life expectancy now hovers around the mid thirties and the former bread basket of Africa is incapable of feeding itself.
Zimbabwe is a mess. I don't think anyone can argue with that. The question is; what can we do about it?
I see so many people discussing this on blogs, news comment sites and so on - but I still don't know what it is that these people expect to happen.
The first thing we have to consider, I suppose, is whether we should do anything about it? Do we have any responsibility to Zimbabwe which acts as a justification to intervene?
Zimbabwe is, after all, an independent country, on a different continent and there is no geographical relationship between us. There is a historical and colonial link - but that was long ago and it was their choice to break that link. There is no direct threat to Britain from Zimbabwe, either - although you could argue that the situation there exacerbates the asylum and immigration problems faced by Britain creating more pressure on our public services and housing stock.
What about a moral responsibility? Well, personally, I believe that we all, as individuals, have a moral responsibility to act in ways that improve the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves through charities - by volunteering or donating or both - and I believe that for the vast majority of situations, this is is the course to take.
By the way, let me point out that what I have just said does not mean I approve of passing that responsibility on to the state. I don't. In fact, I think that is one of the most damaging aspects of socialism with too many people believing that paying taxes is a better way to help the poor and disadvantaged. It isn't. It is the worst way and guarantees that the genuinely needy will remain needy.
Obviously there are individual actions we can take to apply pressure on Zimbabwe, but the situation there is such that individual acts are not enough. Instead it is a situation where a nation needs to act collectively - and that means through the government. Obviously a government has no moral obligation to any people other than the people it governs, so, in that respect, there is no moral obligation for this government to act on Zimbabwe - unless the people of this country expressed that as their will.
If there is a responsibility - or any other justification to act, what should that action be?
The preferred way for many is sanctions, but do they really work? Don't sanctions and economic embargoes just end up hurting the people you're supposed to be trying to help? Other sanctions - such as sporting boycotts - are unlikely to have any real effect either. They might make us feel a bit better, but I can't see Mugabe being forced to climb down just because Zimbabwe are kicked out of the cricket world cup. It's not as if they were likely to win the damn thing and gain some sort of propaganda coup from that!
As far as I can see, the only action that would have any chance of forcing Mugabe out is military action, but that, like sanctions, has serious implications for the people you're supposed to be helping. On the positive side, military action would be considerably quicker than sanctions, but the "pain" for the populous of Zimbabwe would be that much more intense. Is the swift traumatic death of war better or worse than the slow lingering, but equally certain death of sanctions, starvation and misery?
Even if we did kick out Mugabe through military action - what then? Another despot and the same problem again 20 years down the line? I listen to people talking about the "success" of South Africa - just as they talked about the "success" of Zimbabwe 20 odd years ago when that was the "rainbow nation" and the model for all Africa. South Africa will be the new Zimbabwe in 20 years time - ruled by a despot, no effective opposition (it has none now), a collapsed economy, raging unemployment and riddled with crime (it already is).
So, what should we do? What can we do? I'd really like to know.