The primacy of regime survival state fragility and economic destruction in zimbabwe
THE PRIMACY OF REGIME SURVIVAL State Fragility and Economic Destruction in Zimbabwe
Mark Simpson and Tony Hawkins
The Primacy of Regime Survival “The destruction of Zimbabwe’s economy and institutions over the last four decades has been nothing short of spectacular. This carefully researched book shows that the cause of this carnage is the attempts of Robert Mugabe’s regime to survive by polarizing society, rewarding the regime’s cronies and weakening the economy. A mustread for anybody interested in learning from Zimbabwe’s mistakes so that we can better defend against other autocrats doing the same.” —Daron Acemoglu, Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at MIT, and co-author of Why Nations Fail - The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty “If you want an authoritative, dispassionate and forensic analysis of Zimbabwe’s catastrophic economic decline, set in political context, go straight for this definitive work by Hawkins and Simpson. Their exposure of the way the country’s ruling Zanu-PF party turned a once-thriving economy into a milch cow for an elite, whilst systematically subjugating dissent and enforcing an increasingly despotic regime, makes for an engrossing read. The authors pose some awkward questions about the performance of the IMF and the World Bank: should they have done more to expose Mugabe’s venal regime?
And above all, are they in danger of making the same mistake when dealing with the new regime of President Emmerson Mnangagwa?” —Michael Holman, former Africa editor of the Financial Times “The book describes the economic and political history of post-independence Zimbabwe. It focuses on the causes of the country’s economic collapse, and details the policies and processes that drove it. It is the only volume I’ve seen of its kind that covers the entire post-independence period. The referencing is outstanding and it shows genuine scholarship. It is a book that an interested layman would find fascinating and I’d see the international diplomatic and economic community being genuinely interested. It is also well referenced, bringing in both general theory and local documents. Both authors have impeccable credentials.” —Tony Leiman, School of Economics, University of Cape Town “At a time of momentous change in Harare and across Southern Africa, this timely study is a must read for anyone who wants to know if economic prospects are set to take a turn for the better.” —Ed Balls, Senior Research Fellow, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard and former UK Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (2011–2015)
Administrative map of Zimbabwe
Mark Simpson • Tony Hawkins
The Primacy of Regime Survival State Fragility and Economic Destruction in Zimbabwe
Mark Simpson University of London London, UK
Tony Hawkins University of Zimbabwe Harare, Zimbabwe
ISBN 978-3-319-72519-2 ISBN 978-3-319-72520-8 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-72520-8 Library of Congress Control Number: 2018932363
To Natalie Inês and Nicholas Tiago who were also there, and above all to Allison who shared the space at the coalface. M.S. To Glynne who shares the frustrations and disappointments of life in a fragile state, as well as the hope of better days to come. T.H.
“As usurpation is the exercise of power, which another has a right to; so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to. And this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private advantage. When the governor, however intitled, makes not the law, but his will the rule; and his commands and actions are not directed to the preservation of the properties of his people, but the satisfaction of his own ambition, revenge, covetousness, or another other irregular passion” —John Locke, Two Treatises on Government (1689)
The military coup of November 2017, which eventually forced the resignation of Robert Mugabe and led to the evisceration of the ZANU-PF faction associated with his wife’s political ambitions, was the logical conclusion of the creeping militarization of the Zimbabwean state, a dominant aspect of the country’s political, social and economic regression. The new President’s reimbursement for the long-standing support of the military and War Veterans – essential props in the maintenance of the extractive political and economic institutions that had long determined the country’s trajectory and enabled his move into State House – was both immediate and generous. The Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was rewarded with the post of Vice-President, the Major-General who had acted as spokesperson for the military during the November events took over the Foreign Ministry, and the Commander of the Air Force became the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs. The leader of the War Veterans, who had helped orchestrate demonstrations of support for Mnangagwa during the bitter succession struggle between the latter and the President’s wife which eventually triggered the putsch, took on the role of Special Advisor to the President. Hopes were quickly dashed that ZANU-PF’s new leader would reach out to the opposition parties and form a coalition government to oversee the necessary reforms to pave the way for free and fair elections scheduled for later this year. In addition to the dominant ix
resence of securocrats in the new Cabinet, all other posts were distribp uted to old ZANU-PF notables linked to the Mnangagwa faction. Retribution was also swift, with the full prosecutorial powers of the state deployed to settle scores with opponents within the ruling party. While Mugabe and his immediate family were allowed to remain in the country, and granted a series of privileges and immunities, a number of senior ranking officials from the former administration were not so favoured. Former Ministers and their minions who had not slipped out of the country have been targeted by the country’s anti-corruption agency, and those who did manage to escape have had their assets seized. The highly selective singling out of individuals on charges of corruption and abuse of office – which many in the new dispensation would be hard- pressed to mount a credible defence against should the net be widened – has also provided further and extraordinary insights into the extent of the plundering under Mugabe. Photos of police charge sheets listing hundreds of properties accumulated by insiders from the Mugabe era, reports of stashes of foreign currency found in the homes of those who had gone to ground, and footage of the palatial mansions of beneficiaries of the former patronage networks (including a 54 room mansion that allegedly belonged to the former Minister in charge of Indigenisation), circulated widely within the country. They have shocked even those Zimbabweans who had seemingly become inured to the venality of their leaders. Notwithstanding such highly visible, and widely trumpeted, demonstrations of good intent by the new administration, a huge leap of faith is required to buy into the government’s narrative that the military coup heralds a ‘New Dispensation’ and ‘New Economic Order’. Two elements stand out in the post-coup economic narrative – that only one man, Robert Mugabe, and only a small handful of his close associates, are responsible for the country’s protracted economic decline, and that ‘bold reforms’ promised by the Mnangagwa administration will turn the economy around overnight. While there is an apparent consensus amongst many domestic and foreign observers that the Mnangagwa administration is more likely to implement economic reforms than its predecessor, with the ruling party in electoral mode expectations are being stoked with scant regard to
the economic and social reality on the ground. An extreme example was Mnangagwa’s recent claim that $3 billion in foreign investment had been secured in just seven weeks to February 2018. In this heady atmosphere, the new administration is planting the seeds of another future crisis of expectations, not least because it portrays the post-coup mantra of ‘re- engagement with the international community’ as all gain and no pain. That the economy will benefit from the removal of the obdurately anti-reform Mugabe and some of those around him is undeniable, but the state and party architecture, and the dirigiste mind-set within which it operates, will continue to determine any reform trajectory. The extension and expansion of the ‘command agriculture’ programme referenced in this book, a pet project of the new President, carried out with the extensive involvement of the military when he was Mugabe’s deputy, and now backed up by the former Major-General in charge of the portfolio, is a clear sign of the strong elements of continuity at work. This is also obvious already in the rejection of political reform, most notably foot dragging in terms of granting the significant (and potentially decisive) number of Diaspora Zimbabweans an opportunity to exercise their right to vote in their current countries of residence. There is virtually no new blood at political level, while the bureaucracy was untouched by the putsch. As a result, it is hardly surprising that after the initial public euphoria that accompanied Mugabe’s relinquishing of office, many now view the November 2017 coup as a domestic spat, with septuagenarians replacing a nonagenarian, all being hewn from the same wood. In espousing what he calls the ‘China model’ of economic development, Mnangagwa hopes that Zimbabwe will emulate the bad-politics, good-economics strategies that have proved so attractive to many African leaders. Some foreign investors, IFI staff and bilateral donors are only too willing to accept this ‘good enough governance’ stance for Zimbabweans, their justification being that a bad solution is better than none, a replay of the myopia of their earlier efforts during the 1980s and 1990s at promoting reform. To the very limited extent that it has been articulated, the economic reform menu is essentially similar to that of the unsuccessful Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, and other reform programmes of the past. Then as now, the authorities have committed themselves to public
sector reform, including privatisation, fiscal deficit reduction, trade, investment and monetary liberalization and a reduction of the civil service payroll. In its 38 years in office, not one of these policies has been adopted on a sustained basis, posing the question why the post-coup future should be any different. The gain-without-pain scenario promoted assiduously by the government and its state media publicity arm assumes, for example, that a massive international bailout, including as much as $8 billion for farm compensation, itself a hugely unrealistic number, will be forthcoming. The Structural Adjustment package of 1991 was less than $1 billion a year for 5 years, but current estimates are that Zimbabwe will need $30 to $40 billion over ten years. Policymakers are similarly reluctant to discuss the economics of job creation, taking refuge in grandiose and meaningless promises to generate a million jobs a year, equivalent to jobs growth of 15 percent of formal employment each year. Over the long haul in Zimbabwe employment has grown at half the rate of output, which means that GDP would have to increase by 30 percent annually. Since this is not going to happen, the realistic conclusion is that millions of the 200,000 well-educated school and university leavers each year who fail to get formal jobs will continue to have to choose between the informal sector and joining the Diaspora. Politicians have long been content to sweep such long-term problems under the carpet of an exploding informal sector and deepening rural poverty, especially in communal farming areas. But two immediate challenges that cannot be hidden from public scrutiny are the unsustainable debt burden and the currency regime. At the end of 2016, foreign debt was $9.4 billion or 57 percent of GDP. This has since increased by at least $2 billion, mostly through new offshore borrowings (another strong element of continuity in terms of economic management) from Zimbabwe’s new lender of last resort, the Cairo-based Afreximbank, and which the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe claims is partly being used to back the continued printing of bond notes in its efforts to solve the country’s liquidity problems. Simultaneously, domestic debt – denominated in US dollars, which means it cannot be inflated away as happened with Zimbabwe dollar debt during hyperinflation – has burgeoned to over $6 billion. This debt will likely exceed $8
billion by the end of 2018, by which time the debt-to-GDP ratio will likely exceed 100 percent. These numbers underline the necessity for the immediate tightening of fiscal and monetary policy. But that is not feasible politically during an election year, which helps explain why Mnangagwa has made it clear that he wants the polls to be held as soon as possible. The same logic applies to the government’s exchange rate dilemma. It is common cause that the currency is overvalued to the tune of 40 to 50 percent and that a switch to a different currency anchor, such as the South African rand, makes no sense unless it is part of a devaluation strategy. The new President has ruled out the rand option, but has promised to launch a new Zimbabwe currency backed either by gold or a currency board arrangement. Inflation and currency depreciation, driven by excessive government spending, borrowing and money printing, has bedevilled the country since independence, with all the market-destroying and state fragility effects described in this book. Repeatedly over the 38 years since 1980 when ministers have had to choose between economic stabilisation via austerity on the one hand, and populism (and opportunities for elite enrichment) on the other, the latter has always won. The military acknowledges the populist nature of its coup, leaving little room for doubt over its stance when forced to choose, as it will be in the years ahead, between on the one hand the pain of political and economic reforms and potential challenges to the ruling party’s monopoly on national political and economic life which might thereby emerge, and on the other regime survival which will remain the priority. University of London London, UK University of Zimbabwe Harare, Zimbabwe February 2018
Mark Simpson Tony Hawkins
Both authors were privileged to have been members of a group of eminent Zimbabwean economists, brought together between 2007–2010 under the aegis of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and tasked with analysing and reporting on the state of the economy, the wider social consequences of the country’s economic travails, and providing policy advice in terms of recovery options. In addition to the present authors, what came to be known as the UNDP ‘Recovery Team’ included Dr. Godfrey Kanyenze, Professor Daniel Makina, Dr. Daniel Ndlela and Dr. Dale Doré, all exceptionally talented professionals who in uniquely challenging circumstances were able to probe, dissect and explore the drivers of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown during the crisis period of the late 1990s and 2000s, and its historical roots. Their willingness to work as a team, and the fact they were all amenable to being challenged by evidence, ensured that work produced was of the highest quality. We remain deeply indebted to this earlier collective effort, and hope the present book reflects the quality of those earlier influences. We are also indebted to Dr. Agostinho Zacarias, Mr. Lare Sisay and Ms. Bettina Kittel of UNDP Zimbabwe. They recognised the potential of the policy-relevant research being carried out by the aforementioned team of economists in a context in which many international development agencies had either left Zimbabwe, downgraded their operations, or were focused on the country’s humanitarian crisis, and provided the xv
team with a ‘long leash’ and generous administrative and financial support to engage in the challenging exercise of understanding and reporting on what turned out to be a unique case of economic regression. At the time, Pauline Brine in Harare helped wrestle ‘economese’ into intelligible language. Mark Simpson takes this opportunity to thank Professor Philip Murphy, Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in the School of Advanced Study of the University of London, for having welcomed him as a Visiting Research Fellowship at the institute which he heads, a uniquely conducive environment for reflective work of this kind. Rachel Sangster, Head of Economics and Finance at Palgrave Macmillan, was everything the authors could have wished for in terms of providing advice and support, and patiently held our hands throughout the editorial and production processes. Mark Simpson and Tony Hawkins
1Introduction 1 2The Economics of State Fragility 19 3Zimbabwe’s First Decade: Building the One-Party State and Controlling the Economy 45 4Regime Interests and the Failure of Economic Reform in the 1990s 61 5Regime Survival and the Fast Track Land Reform Programme 87 6Regime Survival and the Attack on the Urban Poor 121 7Regime Survival: Poverty Creation, Mass Migration and Elite Enrichment 139 8International Isolation and the Search for New Friends 165
9Economic Meltdown and Elections 195 10The Challenges of Cohabitation 227 11Protecting the ZANU-PF State: Safeguarding Extractive Political Structures 247 12Protecting the ZANU-PF State: Safeguarding Extractive Economic Institutions 285 13A Resurgent ZANU-PF 307 14The Transitions That Weren’t 335 Index 381
AAPPG Africa All Party Parliamentary Group ACP Africa Caribbean and Pacific AfDB African Development Bank AIPPA Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act AU African Union BIPPA Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement BWI Bretton Woods Institution CAAZ Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe CC Constitutional Commission CES Community Empowerment Scheme CFU Commercial Farmers Union CIO Central Intelligence Organisation CISOMM Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism COPAC Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee CPIA Country Policy and Institutional Assessment CRF Consolidated Revenue Fund CRISECentre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity CSO Civil Society Organisation CSRC Crisis States Research Centre CZI Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries DAC Development Assistance Committee DANIDA Danish International Development Agency xix
DC Delimitation Commission DFID Department for International Development DRC Democratic Republic of Congo EES Employers Empowerment Scheme EMA Environmental Management Agency ESAP Economic Structural Adjustment Programme ETF Education Trust Fund EU European Union FAO Food and Agriculture Organization FDI Foreign Direct Investment FPL Food Poverty Line FTLRP Fast Track Land Reform Programme GAPWUZGeneral Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe GDI Gross Domestic Income GDP Gross Domestic Product GFATM Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria GMB Grain Marketing Board GOZ Government of Zimbabwe GPA Global Political Agreement GRA General Resource Account HDI Human Development Index HIPC Highly Indebted Poor Country HIV and AIDSHuman Immuno-Deficiency Virus and Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome HTF Health Transition Fund HWRS Health Workers Retention Scheme ICG International Crisis Group IDA International Development Association IDP Internally-Displaced Persons IFI International Financial Institution IG Inclusive Government ILO International Labour Organization IMF International Monetary Fund JOC Joint Operations Command JOMIC Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee LICUS Low-Income Countries Under Stress MDC Movement for Democratic Change MDC-M Movement for Democratic Change – Mutambara
MDC-N Movement for Democratic Change – Ncube MDC-T Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai MDGs Millennium Development Goals MDRI Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative MMCZ Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe MPLA People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola MPOI Mass Public Opinion Institute NCA National Constitutional Assembly NEPAD New Partnership for Africa’s Development NGO Non-Governmental Organisation NHS National Health Strategy NIEBBNational Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board NPRC National Peace and Reconciliation Commission NRZ National Railways of Zimbabwe NSC National Security Council ODA Official Development Assistance OECD Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD-DAC Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development-Development Assistance Committee ONHRI Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration PASS Poverty Assessment Study Survey PE Public Enterprise PF Patriotic Front PIN Public Information Notice POSA Public Order and Security Act PRC People’s Republic of China PRGF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility PRSP Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper PVT Parallel Voting Tabulation RBZ Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe RENAMO Mozambique National Resistance SADC Southern African Development Community SAM Severe Acute Malnutrition SDR Special Drawing Right SME Small and Medium Enterprise SMP Staff Monitored Programme SSA Sub-Saharan Africa STERP Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme
TCPL Total Consumption Poverty Line TNDP Transitional National Development Plan UN United Nations UNCDF United Nations Capital Development Fund UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNDESA United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs UNDP United Nations Development Programme UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund UN-OCHAUnited Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs USAID United States Agency for International Development WFP World Food Programme WJP World Justice Project ZAADDSZimbabwe Accelerated Arrears clearance, Debt and Development Strategy ZANLA Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army ZANU Zimbabwe African National Union ZANU-PF Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front ZAPU Zimbabwe African People’s Union ZASMC Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Council ZBC Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation ZCTU Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions ZEC Zimbabwe Electoral Commission ZESA Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority ZESN Zimbabwe Elections Support Network ZIDERA Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act Zim AssetZimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation ZIMCORD Zimbabwe Conference on Reconstruction and Development ZIMPRESTZimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation ZIMRA Zimbabwe Revenue Authority ZimVAC Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee ZINARA Zimbabwe National Roads Administration ZIPRA Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army ZLHR Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights ZMDC Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation ZNA Zimbabwe National Army ZRP Zimbabwe Republic Police
movements, a willingness to compromise prevailed during the Lancaster House negotiations. The Patriotic Front delegates had also been under pressure from a number of neighbouring African states interested in bringing the Rhodesian conflict to an end as quickly as possible given the negative spill-over effects on their own peoples and economies, and accepted a number of constitutional provisions which they undoubtedly saw as contentious in order to bring the talks to a successful conclusion. Foremost amongst these was the establishment of a separate white voters roll for the elections of 20 white lower House of Assembly representatives out of a total of 100, and 10 white senators out of a total of 40. This arrangement was to all intents and purposes frozen for a period of seven years, since amendments were only allowed subject to an unlikely unanimous vote in favour of changes in the House of Assembly. In addition, the Patriotic Front accepted provisions embedded in the constitution’s Declaration of Rights which severely circumscribed the scope for compulsory acquisition by the new state of private property, and which could only be altered after a period of ten years, again subject to an unlikely unanimous vote in the House of Assembly. In those exceptional cases in which compulsory acquisition was permitted (on the grounds of national defence, public order and safety, public health and town and country planning considerations), there was to be prompt payment of adequate compensation, with owners to be granted access to the High Court to contest both the acquisition order, as well as the amount of compensation to be paid. The provisions also covered land, despite the fact that the need to address the highly inequitable distribution of this asset between whites and blacks had been a key rallying cry of both liberation movements. Both ZANU and ZAPU had to accept that these provisions hindered their ability, at least for the first ten years of independence, to trigger a process of land reform that was not based on the willing buyer, willing seller market-driven principle entrenched at Lancaster House. In the run-up to Independence President Samora Machel of Mozambique, who had granted ZANU’s armed forces bases along its extensive border with Rhodesia, famously advised future Prime Minister Robert Mugabe to tone down revolutionary Marxist rhetoric in order not to trigger an exodus of whites as had happened in Mozambique in 1974–75 with dire economic consequences (Zimbabwe Today 2017). Mugabe went
on to surprise many observers with his conciliatory speeches in the run-up to Independence, calling upon the new country’s white citizens to remain in order to help build a new country on the basis of “a common interest that knows no race, colour or creed” (Ministry of Information, Immigration and Tourism 1980, 3). In addition, during the years of sanctions and the liberation war, many of those making up Zimbabwe’s first Cabinet had lived in failing neighbouring economies, particularly Mozambique and Zambia. When they took office, they were able to bring to their deliberations direct experience of the consequences of highly dirigiste economic policies, and how important it was to maintain the institutional fabric and physical infrastructure they were inheriting. Unlike many of its African peers, Zimbabwe was never a mono- economy heavily dependent on a single export product. Instead it boasted a diversified economy driven primarily by large-scale commercial agriculture, underpinned by Sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest manufacturing sector – after South Africa and Nigeria – a small, but diverse and profitable mining industry, and the region’s second most sophisticated financial and banking sector after South Africa. There was immense potential in tourism, and the country had an exceptionally strong human capital base by Sub-Saharan African standards, with more skilled and trained people than any other African country at Independence. Although it was to lose thousands of skilled, experienced, white citizens in the late 1970s and early 1980s,1 this outflow was offset by the return of many thousands of highly-educated and trained black Zimbabweans. After South Africa it also had the most developed and best maintained physical infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa, while health and education facilities, although historically heavily skewed in favour of the privileged white minority, were years ahead of those available elsewhere on the continent, again with the exception of South Africa. Moreover, Zimbabwe enjoyed the benefits of being a late-comer. It was one of the last African states to achieve independence, and had plenty of experiences in terms of Africa’s post-independence trajectory, both negative and positive, which it could draw upon as it set about devising its political governance systems and economic development strategies. The new government that took office in April 1980 also enjoyed tremendous international goodwill, and the donor/international lender community
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also had 20 years of history and experience in Africa that it could tap into when devising development and lending strategies for the new country. In theory then, in 1980 Zimbabwe was well placed to learn from the lessons of economic failure elsewhere in Africa. Unlike many – indeed most – of its African peers, the country was not starting from scratch, but from the sturdy platform of a well-diversified economy richly endowed with skills and expertise and with the goodwill of most of its neighbours – with the vitally important exception of apartheid South Africa – and of the international community. Understandably – and with the advantage of hindsight perhaps even inevitably – Zimbabwe’s strengths and potential were exaggerated, especially by Western governments and a donor community avidly in search of an African economic success story. The West needed Zimbabwe to showcase how an African country could thrive as a non-racial society in the hope that this would smooth the path to majority rule in Namibia, and especially South Africa. A failure in Zimbabwe would only serve to bolster intransigence in South Africa, strengthening the hand of the white die-hards in that country. For this reason, as international pressure mounted on apartheid South Africa, Robert Mugabe’s government attained a strategic importance in the eyes of the West well beyond its punching weight, and notwithstanding Mugabe’s and ZANU’s declared adherence to Marxism-Leninism. Accordingly, it was in a better-the-devil-you-know spirit that even conservative Western governments – the Reagan Administration in the US and the Thatcher government in Britain – threw their weight behind the new government. Western diplomats insisted that Zimbabwe was ‘in play’ in the sense that during its formative years the new government would be open to advice and technical assistance that would help the West achieve its goals of showcasing Zimbabwe as a non-racial African success story, while simultaneously, and in the context of the Cold War, detaching Mugabe from the Eastern bloc and Chinese backers that had supported his party and its armed forces during the liberation war. In these endeavours the West was enthusiastically backed by the IMF and World Bank, especially the latter, anxious to demonstrate that their advice could produce African economic success stories.
Yet the long-term outcome could not have been more disappointing. From a situation of great promise and high popular expectations at Independence, by 2008 Zimbabwe had regressed to the point where daily life for the majority was characterised by completely empty supermarket shelves and a relentless search for basic goods as people lugged around wads of worthless currency. In addition, should they fell sick they were forced to sleep and await treatment in the corridors of hospitals that had neither staff, equipment nor medicines, while many children sat in classrooms devoid of electricity, furniture, text-books and increasingly teachers. Many were so desperate to flee the country they joined a mass exodus, sneaking under barbed wire fences and crossing over into South Africa and other neighbouring countries in search of refuge. Many of those who remained inside the country became increasingly reliant on emergency food aid distributed by international organisations and local charities, while if they openly opposed the government they ran the risk of joining the growing ranks of the victims of state-sponsored violence and torture, photographs of the disturbing results of this circulating widely on the internet to be viewed only by those with strong stomachs. Economists and political scientists will long ponder the reasons for Zimbabwe’s initially disappointing, and subsequently catastrophic, post- independence political governance and economic performance. How and why did one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s best-endowed economies – in terms of physical infrastructure, human capital and diversified production – fail to exploit the potential it inherited? Why did successive governments fail to trigger economic growth rates that attracted foreign investment, and improve the welfare of its citizens through increased employment opportunities and rising real incomes on a long-term and sustainable basis? How was initial and significant progress during the 1980s in terms of improved public services and social indicators reversed so quickly during the ‘crisis decade’ between 1998 and 2008, and from which the country is still trying to recover? How did national economic policies result in a disastrously weakened and fragile state that presided over a dramatically impoverished, cowed and alienated population, and which at the peak of the crisis had turned Zimbabweans into arguably the unhappiest people in the world?