Prices double from one hour to the next in Zimbabwe. One of our Observers told us that if you haven't paid cash in hand within half an hour of negotiating a price for something, then you better forget about buying it.

According to the blog Zimbabwe Absurdity, "The picture below has been doing the rounds of the email. The toilet photo was apparently taken in the South African customs at Beit Bridge".

"The price of your shopping has changed by the time you've got it to the till"

Robb Ellis, the son of a South African father and Scottish mother, lived in Rhodesia/ Zimbabwe since he was one. He worked as a police officer in the Matabeland province until 1985 and returned to the UK in 1998. He runs the blog "The Bearded Man". He also wrote a book about his experiences as a policeman in Zimbabwe: "Without Honour".

Except for Hungary during the Second World War, there's no country that's seen such high inflation. I talk to people from Zim regularly, and one of them told me that sometimes the price of your shopping has changed by the time you've got it to the till.  

The sanitary situation is disastrous. According to the government, 550 people have died from cholera do far. But my friends there say the number is much higher; more like several thousand. One of them told me that he wasn't able to leave the country because the visa office was "closed due to cholera". In my opinion that's no excuse to stop people from leaving. I also believe that Mugabe has classed the cholera epidemic as a "national emergency" because he wants to declare a state of emergency soon, which will let him shake up the constitution and give him extra powers. I even think that the recent police riots, which have been picked up by the press, were manipulated to give him a reason for taking control of the situation.

Mugabe has siphoned the country for his own means. Nevertheless, I do think that today it's the Joint Operation Command (JOC), the group of security services chiefs, that are really in charge of the country. Mugabe surely would have preferred to leave after he lost to Tsvangirai, but the JOC members don't see things that way. If Mugabe left, they'd have to face up to the atrocities they've committed.

The Zimbabweans are at the end of their tether now. Ninety per cent of the population is unemployed and they have to pay a million Zimbabwean dollars for a roll of stale bread. There's a threat of a public uprising." 

Zimbabwean friends sent Robb wads of cash, worth only a couple of notes of most other currencies.