History Monday: Zimbabwe’s Economy 1


On 18 April 1980, the Republic of Zimbabwe was born from the former British colony of Rhodesia[1]. Not only did the country have a well-developed, highly diversified and prosperous agricultural industry and a lucrative mining sector, which also witnessed rapid industrialisation during the time of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence[2](UDI). The transition from minority white rule to majority black rule saw the new democratically elected government with a task to integrate and build up an already sophisticated and advanced economy, so with such an economy how then did the Zimbabwean economy crumble in 34 years in a country that is not involved in any major long war, what then caused this promising nation formally known as the breadbasket of Africa to de-industrialise at an era of economic development in some parts of Africa? What were the factors involved in this downfall? Who or what is to blame for the inflation that ultimately destroyed the Zimbabwean Dollar that was once compared to the British Pound and the United States dollar to having no currency of its own? The following four chapters will give a narrative of the sequence of events so as to expose some deficiencies within the nation that led to its downfall. The issues raised will be the  governments aggressive education and health policy within the first years of independence, To what extent was this a factor in the downfall of the economy, the fast track land distribution programme and reasons why it happened when it happened, population growth and the government’s failure to come up with policy to create employment for the growing population, mismanagement of public finance or could it be the drought in 1982-3 which impacted the agriculture sector heavily as well as the economy and government expenditure to deal with the effects of the drought? Is the impact short term or long term and are they even worth mentioning for the economic downfall of the nation. Was the process of De-industrialisation of the Zimbabwean economy a concept the government was deliberately taking or it was in an unconscious state that allowed this process to occur. Was it South Africa’s attempt to or rather the destabilisation of Zimbabwe from 1980-1989, was this a success or a failure? This narrative document is in 3 phases, 1980 to 1990, 1990 to 2000, 2000 to 2008 and there will be detail on the significant events that had a negative impact on the nation’s economy. Each chapter will contain details of events that led to the economic downfall of Zimbabwe. Dividing each chapter into a singular decade makes the information better to grasp. Naturally these periods experienced a lot of government policy that affected the economy directly and indirectly, as well as situations that were beyond government control, and all these issues will be exposed in the coming chapters.

The assumption of this paper is that the Zimbabwean people are not entirely aware of what caused the economic downfall. Information that they are aware of is that which comes out in the papers or information that is spread through word of mouth that has not been verified. So based on this assumption it is of great importance to give a narrative and break down the sequence of events that occurred that put the Zimbabwean economy in its current state. This project will then give an analysis of these events and break them down as well as explain why what happened, happened at specific times. It will also have solutions as to what is the next step for the development of the economic situation in the country. An analysis of each policy that the government implemented and what could have been done for the growth of the nation.

Another issue that this paper wanted to address is to look for causes that go beyond the bias or shallow explanations of what caused the economy to decline, issues such as sanctions and corruption. These are factors that should be considered but there are way more complicated details that need to be exposed so as to give the reader a broad perspective that will allow objective analysis as to the causes of the downfall.


  1. Vusani, M (2015) ‘Economic Downfall of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 2008’

One comment

  1. When I hear that Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket of Zimbabwe. I didn’t realise that is once 1:1 with the British pound


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