Zimbabwe is at the dawn of a new era.
In 2017, after 37 years in power, Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe resigned, leaving this once prosperous country in economic disarray. Unfortunately, for Zimbabwe, many of Mugabe’s policies, which included the seizure of white-owned farms so that they could be redistributed to black Zimbabweans, were failures. Statistics from the end of his reign reveal exactly how much this country suffered while under his control. The unemployment rate, according to Forbes, had risen to a staggering 95 percent. In addition, more than 72 percent of Zimbabwe’s population were living below the poverty line, according to the BBC
A Once Prosperous Country
What makes Zimbabwe’s situation even more shocking is that before Mugabe took control, this country was considered a success story and had earned the nickname, the Jewel of Africa. In 1997, for example, Zimbabwe’s economy was the fastest growing in all of Africa, according to The Atlantic. Once known as Rhodesia, this country boasts abundant natural resources, including gold, lithium, coal and diamonds. Zimbabwe also has the second-largest platinum reserves in the world. Only South Africa has more. In addition, Zimbabwe’s soil is very fertile, and it exports a large number of agricultural products, including tobacco, cotton, sugar and coffee. Unfortunately, even with all of those riches, Zimbabwe’s economy was halved in size from 1980, when Mugabe came into power, to 2017 when he was unceremoniously pressured to leave by the military.
The question burning in everyone’s mind is will Zimbabwe continue its downward spiral, or will it finally reverse course and once again be known as the Jewel of Africa? Hopefully, it’s the latter, but it could take some time. According to Professor of Economics at the University of Zimbabwe Tony Hawkins, “When the economy has been run into the ground as it has, it’s going to take a decade or so to recover and that’s under positive conditions.”
Hawkins also believes that the keys to Zimbabwe’s recovery will be its agriculture, tourism and mining industries. Tourism was especially hard hit during Mugabe’s reign, as many travelers avoided the country because of its political uncertainty that turned violent at times. But tourism experts are optimistic that this is about to change. According to Business Report, Zimbabwe is already seeing an uptick in visitor interest. And that shouldn’t be too surprising. This country has always had a lot to offer travelers, including one of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the world, Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe also boasts ten national parks, including popular safari destinations like Hwange and Mana Pools.
Helping Hands Welcome
Malnutrition and hunger are huge problems in Zimbabwe. According to Africa News, almost 4 million people in Zimbabwe in 2016 were suffering malnutrition. And, sadly, one-fourth of that number was made up of children under 18 years of age. The country has also experienced erratic weather in recent years, which has only served to compound this country’s economic woes. During the 2015-2016 farming season, for example, a terrible drought left one-fourth of Zimbabwe’s rural population in need of food aid.