Countryaah, the economic and political situation
deteriorated drastically during the year. A series of
strikes were carried out against tax and price increases.
The strikes were given increasingly clear political tone,
especially after a 67% increase in fuel prices in November.
Discontent with the economic conditions increased after
Zimbabwe's military intervention in the Congo-Kinshasa war,
where 6,000 soldiers were sent to the government of Kabila.
The effort was reported to cost SEK 8 million. a day; this
was in a situation where the currency lost more than 60% in
value in a year, inflation was 45%, unemployment 40% and
growth slowed. Unions and employers were united in the
demands for an end to corruption and state waste. They also
demanded a public account of the costs of the war effort,
which was decided without debate in Parliament and which
they claimed was done to protect the private business
interests of individual government members in
Congo-Kinshasa. The government's response to the protests
was a six-month-long strike ban.
The economic situation was made more difficult by the
International Monetary Fund's (IMF) decision in November to
freeze the continued payment of a loan of $ 176 million
agreed in June. The IMF was concerned by the government's
decision to confiscate 841 farms owned by whites and to
distribute land to blacks, despite the government's promised
land expropriation on a much smaller scale and slower pace.
Former President Canaan Banana was found guilty of
homosexual abuse in November and placed under house arrest
after staying hidden abroad for a few weeks. The verdict
falls in 1999.