The Might of a Software License

Giesecke & Devrient is a European company that has been providing Zimbabwe with paper. After pressure from the German government, itself pressured by the threat of protests, it cut off supplies to the African nation. Jura JSP is the Hungarian-Austrian company which supplies the software licenses and design for the banknotes. The program is said to be very technical, and not easily replicated. They too are reported to be withdrawing their contract. Zimbabwe has been printing money at will, which has led to the kind of inflation most of us can’t comprehend. One English pound last week was trading at 1.3 trillion Zimbabwe dollars. Without these two companies it can no longer do so. The UK Guardian newspaper reported that what it called a”knowledgeable source” had said the looming actions by these companies has created an air of panic. Some in the Zimbabwe government are in a panic because without the software they can’t print any money. The government has been paying the military and officials with this printed money. Without it and the purchasing power it gave them, observers wonder whether or not they will mutiny. As it is their income has not kept pace with the cost of living and these same observers suspect that many of these middle and senior ranking government officials have long stopped being enamored of the system.
While the international community debates what to do about Zimbabwe, while several things have been tried, e.g. a UN resolution, and many feel helpless about the human suffering, it could be that a software license may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. But more importantly perhaps, given the interconnectedness of the multitude of economic factors that makes up a given country’ economic life, it makes one aware of the fact that little things can bring down governments.
Despite ongoing talks between the two political parties, if–probably when–Mugabe’s government’s falls, there will be many explanations. Still one will be left wondering about that old story about David and Goliath, of how a software license kept a government from running.