Zimbabwe Since Mugabe
Zimbabwe, officially the Republic of Zimbabwe and formerly recognized as Rhodesia. Zimbabwe is a landlocked nation in southern Africa bordering South Africa to its south and Zambia to its north. The nation gained independence in 1980 after a long period of colonial rule. Similarly to South Africa, Zimbabwe suffered a period of white-dominated rule in which the country suffered severe human rights violations, especially to the majority black population.

One of the longest-sitting leaders in modern times, some considered Robert Mugabe to be a revolutionary hero. Having led the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU – PF) and ousted the minority white government of Zimbabwe, Mugabe became the leader of the nation. Serving as President from 1987 to 2017. At first, many in Zimbabwe may have felt optimistic about Zimbabwe’s future, but after 30 years of economic stagnation and rampant hyperinflation, a military coup ultimately ousted President Mugabe. His dismal leadership of Zimbabwe’s economy and reports of many human rights violations are the main reasons for his departure. Here is some information about Zimbabwe since Mugabe.

The Economy

Unfortunately for President Mnangagwa, his predecessor left Zimbabwe in economic peril. With Mugabe gone, there was much elation at the prospect of a new leader in Zimbabwe, with many finally believing that the worst may be behind them. Mnangagwa promised the people of Zimbabwe economic prosperity and more democracy. The President stated at ZANU – PF headquarters that “No one is more important than the other. We are all Zimbabweans. We want to grow our economy. We want jobs.”

However, economic prosperity has yet to come, with some in the nation believing that Zimbabwe since Mugabe has actually worsened. Zimbabwe’s inflation problem seems to have continued under the new leadership, having a 557.2% inflation rate in 2020. However, 2021 saw a 458.66% decline in inflation to 98.55%.

The problem with hyperinflation is that the Zimbabwean dollar is effectively worthless, making it very hard for the economy to grow as foreign imports will simply be far too expensive. Many in Zimbabwe prefer using the U.S. dollar, whereas the South African Rand is the most common. However, the GDP per Capita in Zimbabwe was $1,774 in 2021, a 29.23% increase from 2020.

Poverty in Zimbabwe requires attention. The poverty rate in Zimbabwe was 85% in 2019, a 0.9% increase from 2017, the year Mugabe left the presidency.

Indicating that in the nearly six years since Mugabe, the government has been unable to make any significant change to poverty in the nation. Alongside a disturbingly high poverty rate, the country has an estimated 90% of the citizens either unemployed or work informally to make a living.

Human Rights

Perhaps unsurprisingly, with Mnangagwa being a member and leader of the ZANU – PF party, the same party as former President Mugabe and the only party in power since the ending of the white minority rule in Zimbabwe, human rights in Zimbabwe continue to be an issue in the nation.

Mnangagwa promised change in Zimbabwe, however, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) the situation continued to decline in 2020 under President Mnangagwa. According to HRW, more than 70 critics of the government were abducted and tortured in 2020. The HRW stated that “Security forces also continued to commit arbitrary arrests, violent assaults, abductions, torture and other abuses’ against anyone critical of the government.”

With Human Rights violations such as these, it is fair to suggest that not much has changed in Zimbabwe since Mugabe. As ex-President Mugabe received criticism for corruption and silencing of critics. 

Government Reaction to Human Rights

Under the leadership of Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe only repealed one law from the Mugabe era. Critics have suggested the government’s slow implementation of its commitment to political reform shows its lack of interest to re-engage with the international community. Instead, the party with a stranglehold of the politics in the nation would rather pursue the continuation of power in Zimbabwe. Al Jazeera spoke to a Zimbabwean citizen who said that “Under Mugabe, things were getting bad. It’s the same group of people (in power) essentially.”

The government however refutes this, suggesting that Mnangagwa has managed to stabilize the currency and committed to opening up the country for business. While the future certainly looks dim for Zimbabwe since Mugabe, there are some glimmers of hope. Zimbabwe actually has the second-largest platinum deposit in the world. The nation also has a significant amount of gold with more than 4,000 recorded gold deposits found so far in Zimbabwe. While the country’s mining sector in the Great Dyke has been inefficient up until now, the government aims to grow its platinum exports considerably.

Looking Ahead 

The potential of Zimbabwe’s mining sector could be huge, generating more revenue, creating new foreign investment opportunities and long-lasting well-paid jobs for Zimbabwean citizens. If done correctly, the government in Zimbabwe may be able to significantly reduce severe levels of unemployment and rampant poverty.

 – Josef Whitehead
Photo: Flickr

hunger and povertyPresident Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe announced that the government has committed itself to end hunger and poverty in the country by expanding and improving its agricultural strategies. The president made this announcement at a United Pre-Food Systems Summit Dialogue hosted by the president of Malawi. Zimbabwe was one of many African countries that receive representation at the Summit.

Hunger in Zimbabwe

In the past two decades, farmers in Zimbabwe have struggled to feed the entire nation. In 2014, Africa Renewal reported that 2001 was “the last time Zimbabwe produced enough maize to meet its needs.” The reason for the lack of substantial produce is a deficit of financial support for the agriculture system in the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the inconsistency of agricultural produce. This is prevalent in the recovery of agriculture as a result of improved control of COVID-19 cases in the country. Food inflation during May 2021 was at 179% and records determined that prices were at a 0% to 20% decrease, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Progress Toward Ending Hunger

While the agriculture industry in Zimbabwe may be on the mend since the pandemic, there is still work that needs to occur. For example, 2021’s Global Report on Food Crises has found that there has been no recent progress toward the goal of reaching “zero hunger” in the world by 2030.

This is one of the motivating factors behind President Mnangagwa’s decision to end hunger and poverty in Zimbabwe. He claims that Zimbabwe’s best strategy requires that “institutions of higher learning must be roped in to offer innovation that climate-proofs the vital agriculture sector,” as the Zimbabwe Chronicle reported.

Higher-learning institutions can provide farmers and agricultural members with the knowledge of how to better cultivate the food they need. The institutions can also give resources for financial assistance, equipment access, lessons on nutrition and strengthening strategies within Zimbabwe’s food systems. With this strategy, the president believes that the agriculture system in Zimbabwe will be able to grow.

Boosting Zimbabwe’s Economy

As evidence suggests, the growth of agriculture and food systems in Zimbabwe is the key to boosting the entire economy. President Mnangagwa explains that “the present economic blueprint” and the country’s agriculture and food systems development plans “situates the agriculture sector as having a critical role in the overall development and growth of the economy.” He says further, “This is anchored on food and nutrition security, import substitution, exports generation, employment creation and the raising of household incomes.”

The positive development of agriculture in Zimbabwe is the key to ending hunger and poverty throughout the country. Agriculture provides citizens with food security and boosts the economy with exports, sales and employment. Thus, if the president’s plan falls into place as described, it could bring about a positive change for Zimbabwe, contributing to reduced global hunger and poverty.

– Riley Prillwitz
Photo: pixabay

Combating Intensified Hunger in ZimbabweSince the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Zimbabwe has faced crippling issues of hunger, starvation and high malnutrition rates. The World Food Programme (WFP) recorded in December 2019 that 7.7 million people living within Zimbabwe were food insecure. Moreover, Global Citizen reported that approximately 90% of children between the ages of 6 months and 2-years-old may die without food aid. Here is some information about intensified hunger in Zimbabwe.

COVID-19 is Intensifying Hunger

The population of people lacking sustenance in Zimbabwe–half of its total population–has only grown since the conception of COVID-19. There has been an increase of nearly 10 million people surviving on less than one meal a day since COVID-19.

Reginald Moyo, a resident of Cowdray Park, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe told The Borgen Project that the “majority of the people don’t have permanent jobs and they [live] by hand to mouth, so [with] a month without working[,]…they are now facing starvation.” Many people are working to address this growing crisis. The people of Zimbabwe, international organizations and the Chinese government have provided aid to Zimbabweans in need.

Efforts from International Organizations

On May 4, 2020, the U.N. entities of Zimbabwe, working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), released an official food analysis report in response to the growing hunger in Zimbabwe. The report stated that “The total funding required to assist the 3.7 million people by the international humanitarian community for July 2019 to April 2020 amounts to USD 331.5 million.” The effects of COVID-19 have intensified hunger in Zimbabwe and increased the need for assistance. The Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) requested an additional 6.7 billion USD to combat hunger in order to protect lives.

However, aid is not only monetarily based. In 2002, the nonprofit group Action Against Hunger set a goal to provide food aid, healthcare, sanitation/hygiene needs and water to countless Zimbabweans in need. It estimated in 2018 that its efforts aided 25 Zimbabweans through nutrition and health programs; gave 52 people water, food and healthcare; and dispensed 3,187 people with food. Action Against Hunger not only gave the required resources for survival but also provided education on how local Zimbabwe efforts could improve hunger in their country.

Response from Zimbabwe’s Government

On March 30, 2020, President Mnangagwa reopened the markets to aid small-scale farmers and traders in the difficulties they faced since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this may seem to not directly address hunger in Zimbabwe, the decision has determined their survival in the upcoming months. Prior to this change, farmers and traders could not go outside or attend to their crop which limited their income as well as their food supply.

The Borgen Project interviewed Nkocy Thando, a farmer living in rural areas within the Bulawayo area of Zimbabwe. Thando stated that since the markets have opened up again, locals have been able to “work when they open in the morning to three [in] the afternoon.” He expressed his immense gratitude for this change and stated that he felt that “all would be okay soon.”

Aid from China

The Chinese Embassy and the private sector are also combating hunger in Zimbabwe by addressing COVID-19 needs. RFI, a worldwide French news and current affairs broadcast reported that China’s efforts have included:

  1. Completing an upgrade worth $500,000 to the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital, which is the main COVID-19 center in Harare, Zimbabwe.
  2. Two Chinese firms providing 1,000 goggles, 50,000 masks and 510 protective suits to a charity that the First Lady, Auxillia Mnangagwa, runs.
  3. The Chinese Embassy equipping Zimbabwe with 7,600 suits for protection, 166,000 masks, 20,000 testing kits, 12,000 pairs of gloves and five ventilators.
  4. The China International Development Cooperation Agency donating $3 million to UNICEF Zimbabwe.

Diverse Responses

There are many organizations working to address the existing and intensifying issues of hunger, starvation and high malnutrition rates in Zimbabwe. However, their solutions range from governmental mandates reopening markets to increased funding for poverty-reduction organizations in the United Nations (UN). While the current responses to hunger in Zimbabwe seem mainly focused on COVID-19 efforts, they still are making a difference in combating intensified hunger in Zimbabwe.

– Alexis LeBaron
Photo: Flickr