REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE
The Republic of Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, is a landlocked country that is situated in the southern part of Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, and neighbors South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. Harare is the nation’s capital and largest city; Bulawayo is the second-largest city. With a population of roughly 17.2 million people, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages with English, Shona, and Ndebele as the most popular. Zimbabweans are its citizens, with Robert Mugabe as an integral part of their leadership; he was the President of Zimbabwe from 1987 until his resignation in 2017 and demise in 2019.
The country, once known as the "Jewel of Africa" for its prosperity, is an area of 390,757 km² (150,872 sq mi). Zimbabwe finally attained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965 but was not recognized as an independent state until April 1980.
In 1923, Zimbabwe became the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia. In 1965, the conservative white minority government unilaterally declared independence as Rhodesia. The state suffered international isolation and a 15-year guerrilla war with black nationalist forces. This culminated in a peace agreement that established universal enfranchisement and de jure sovereignty as Zimbabwe in April 1980. They then joined the Commonwealth of Nations, but was suspended in 2002 for breach of international law by its then government, and then pulled out in December 2003. The sovereign state is a member of the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Under Mugabe's authoritarian regime, the state security apparatus subjugated the country and was responsible for widespread human rights violations. But on 15 November 2017, in the wake of over a year of protests against his government as well as Zimbabwe's rapidly declining economy, Mugabe was placed under house arrest by the country's national army in a coup d'état. On 19 November 2017, ZANU-PF sacked Robert Mugabe as party leader and appointed former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his place. On 21 November 2017, Mugabe tendered his resignation prior to impeachment proceedings being completed. On 30 July 2018 Zimbabwe held its general elections, which was won by the ZANU-PF party led by Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwe is a Constitutional democracy with three pillars of the state, namely the Executive, the Judiciary and the legislature. For the proper functioning of government, the principle of separation of power has been put in place. Zimbabwe’s political framework is a republic, whereby the President is the head of state and government as enforced by the 2013 constitution.
Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The status of Zimbabwean politics was thrown into a frenzy due to a 2017 coup by the military. Zimbabwe is divided into 8 provinces. A presidentially-appointed Governor manages the administrative affairs of each province with the help of provincial administrators and ministries. These provinces are divided into 63 districts.
Their constitution stipulates that the president is the head of state, government, and commander-in-chief of the defense forces, elected by popular majority vote. Before 2013, the president was elected for a 6-year term with no term limits but this was altered to two 5-year terms in the 2013 constitutional referendum. Like the president, the vice president also has to be elected by the majority public vote. The President has the responsibility of appointing his Cabinet members. These Ministers manage and administer various public offices according to the decisions taken by the legislative branch. It is their job to carry out the actions of government.
The legislature discusses and votes on laws, has the power to formulate and enact laws, and also exercises the power to approve or reject a proposed government budget. Parliament consists of the House of Assembly and since 2005, the Senate. The House of Assembly has 210 members elected by universal suffrage, including the Speaker, and the Attorney General, and may serve for a maximum of five years. Under the 2013 constitution, the Senate consists of 80 members, of whom 60 are elected for five-year terms in 6-member constituencies representing one of the 10 provinces, elected based on the votes in the lower house election, using party-list proportional representation, distributed using the Hare quota. Additionally the Senate consists of 2 seats for each non-metropolitan district of Zimbabwe elected by each provincial assembly of chiefs using SNTV, 1 seat each for the president and deputy president of the National Council of Chiefs and 1 male and 1 female seat for people with disabilities elected on separate ballots using FPTP by an electoral college designated by the National Disability Board.
The judiciary’s sole function is to interpret the law and apply it to particular disputes. It also has the power to determine the disposition of prisoners and power to compel testimony and the production of documents. It is headed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe who, like their contemporaries, is appointed by the President on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission. Supreme Court is the highest court of order and the final court of appeal with the chief justice as the Senior Judge, followed by the High Court and the regional Magistrate Courts which have jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases that involve traditional laws and customs. The Judicial Service Commission advises the President on suitable candidates for the Chief Justice’s position, but the decision to appoint is ultimately made by the President. The judicial system is based on Roman-Dutch law with South African influence.
The country faces challenges relating to fiscal consolidation and financial sector stabilization; stimulating growth and investment to increase revenue collection and foreign exchange generation; protecting social gains; and improving governance outcomes through continued legislative and institutional reforms.
However, the recently-announced Transitional Stabilization Programme 2018-2020 contains the government’s plans to ensure financial stabilization, stem current liquidity challenges that have seen parallel market exchange rates skyrocket and contribute to inflationary pressures, as well as attract foreign direct investment and improve the balance of trade to boost economic growth. Buoyed by a “new dispensation” that began in November 2017, the country has been championing a “Zimbabwe is open for business” campaign as the start of its transition from a publicly-led economy to a private sector-led economy to chart the way to “Vision 2030” (an upper middle-class income status by 2030).
In 2015, after a period of recovery (2010 to 2014), Zimbabwe’s economy began a downward trend, that saw a decline in gross domestic product (GDP) growth due to a drought and fall in commodity prices; an expansionary fiscal policy that led to a burgeoning fiscal deficit; rising vulnerability and poverty because of weather and financial shocks; and acute foreign currency shortages dampening demand and supply.
Consequently, Zimbabwe’s unsustainable fiscal deficit widened from 8.5% in 2016 to 15.2% in 2017. The government is financing the fiscal deficit largely through domestic borrowing from both commercial banks and Central Bank using an overdraft facility.
Tear gas and truncheons returned to Zimbabwe's cities in recent days, as protesters took to the streets to express their discontent at the deteriorating economy. Protests began on 16th August 2019 in Harare, the capital, where crowds were dispersed by baton-wielding police. Scores were arrested and up to a dozen were injured.
Zimbabwe faces its worst cash crunch in a decade, and some fear the threat of more anti-government protests risks pushing the country to the brink of a protracted political crisis.
The sector provides employment and income for 60-70 % of the population, supplies 60% of the raw materials required by the industrial sector and contributes 40% of total export earnings. Despite the high level of employment in the sector, it directly contributes only 15-19% to annual GDP, depending on the rainfall pattern. It is generally accepted that when agriculture performs poorly, the rest of the economy suffers. The majority of the new landowners depend on rain-fed agriculture rather than irrigating their crops. As the weather pattern has changed and droughts become more frequent, the country has failed to produce enough grain to meet domestic demand. The distinguishing characteristic of Zimbabwe agriculture is its dualism, i.e. the existence of two major subgroups based on the size of landholdings. The larger group is unsophisticated and comprises about 7.1 million smallholder and communal farmers occupying a total of 21 million hectares. In general, communal and smallholder farmers occupy areas of lower natural potential for agriculture in terms of rainfall, soils, and water for irrigation. Zimbabwe’s principal agricultural exports in descending order include tobacco (60% of total agricultural production), cotton lint (about 10%), raw sugar (9%), tea and coffee, horticultural products and maize. Imports of agricultural products are limited mainly to wheat and maize in drought years.
Tobacco is the most important cash crop in Zimbabwe in terms of generating foreign exchange. The government of Zimbabwe expects tobacco output to increase by 6% from 252 million kilograms in the 2018 marketing season to over 270 million kilograms in 2019, but farmers had a difficult season due to a mid-season dry spell.
Cotton, the second most essential cash crop in the country, is usually grown under contract farming arrangements where contractors supply production inputs (seed, fertilizer, and chemicals) to farmers on loan. At harvest, the contractor buys back the contracted seed cotton, deducts costs of the inputs and pays the contract farmer the remaining balance.
Local demand for soya beans has increased because of numerous uses which include cooking oil, stock feeds, and other foods. The country requires about 220,000 metric tons of soya beans annually for food, feed, and other industrial needs, though the country depends on soya bean imports from Zambia and Malawi. Communal farmers produce mainly for own consumption, as commercial farmers produce mainly for commerce. The communal farmers produce maize (the staple food), groundnuts, beans, vegetables, meat, milk, and fuelwood. Commercial farmers concentrate on cash crops such as tobacco, horticultural products, particularly cut flowers, coffee, maize, groundnuts, sorghum, soya beans, sunflowers, cattle for slaughter, pigs, goats, and sheep.
The most prominent industries in Zimbabwe include Mining. Zimbabwe has enormous wealth in terms of rich deposits of more than forty types of minerals including coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, as well as various metallic and nonmetallic ores. Currently, however, only half these deposits are being actively mined. The nation’s remarkably diverse geology gives it a great prospect to earn sizeable revenues from exporting minerals.
Oil and Energy: Zimbabwe did not have any proven oil and natural gas reserves and needed to import all its oil consumption requirements. On the other hand, it produced 8.89 billion kWh of electricity per year (2007 pts.), putting Zimbabwe in the 95th position worldwide. It is able to export about 32 million kWh of energy (2007 est.) while importing 2.69 billion kWh (2007 est.). However, on the 1st of November 2018, the current president of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, released a press briefing talking about the discovery of energy reserves along the country's border with Mozambique.
The subsoil of the country is indeed rich and makes its exploitation lucrative. By 2013, the country had produced 9% of the world’s gold production, 7% of platinum’s, 5% of palladium’s. Gold is the third-largest mining product. Platinum reserves are the second largest in the world after South Africa. The companies which belong to the native Zimbabwean populations are favored, at the expense of international or domestic companies that are not owned by natives. The public companies Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMCD) play an important role. In 2017, the government stated that the companies owning gold mines that they did not exploit were at risk of losing them. This measure aims at stimulating production and should be accompanied by reforms facilitating gold trade and accelerating the mines’ registration.
In the case of diamond mines, the government was more vindictive in 2016. It ordered several companies to stop their operations immediately under the pretext that their licenses had been out-of-date since 2012. The government is seeking to encourage these private companies to partner with the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Corporation (ZCDC). Ex-President Mugabe promised that his country would regain possession of all diamond mines after private companies stripped Zimbabwe of its wealth. Zimbabwe also produces coal; its reserves were estimated between 10.6 and 26 billion tons in 2011.
The nation has a bulky and diverse manufacturing segment, which is in part a result of the international sanctions that were imposed on Zimbabwe for five years before the nation attained independence.
The broadly based manufacturing sector produces in excess of 6,000 products or commodities ranging from food and clothing to fertilizers and chemicals, metal products of all kinds, electrical machinery and equipment, and motor vehicle assembly etc.
The construction sector has been stagnant as it has not been spared by the deepening economic crisis characterized by a debilitating liquidity crunch, foreign currency shortages, runaway inflation, and massive power cuts which last up to 18 hours daily. The construction sector has not fared well at all during the first half of the year 2019. A considerable number of contracts have been canceled, shelved or are in limbo because contract budgets or monetary provisions have suddenly been eroded and require funding that is now nine times higher than before. This lack of contract activity has led to substantially high numbers of company closures. As a result, companies have terminated employee contracts, leading to very high levels of unemployment for construction workers. For those companies still operational, the employee numbers have been reduced drastically.
The services sector is progressively becoming the biggest contributor to the country’s GDP ahead of critical sectors such as agriculture and mining, according to a competitiveness report by NECF. The report released in Harare revealed that the services sector is fast becoming the main driver of economic growth and employment.
“The services sector accounts for about 64% of Zimbabwe’s GDP and is increasingly becoming an important driver for growth and employment,” the report revealed. “Distribution, hotels, and restaurants account for 14.8% of GDP while transport and communication account for 13.2%. Tourism is estimated to account for about 10% of Zimbabwean GDP and is important for generating foreign exchange. The financial sector accounts for 7% of GDP and is critical to the competitiveness of all other sectors of the economy.”
Zimbabwe has a well-developed banking sector which is modeled on the British system. Yet, the outlook for Zimbabwe's banking and finance sector remains precarious. Government borrowing continues to dominate banking sector lending activity as the government has moved towards slowing public spending, growing popular unrest and weakening economic growth will deter attempts at fiscal consolidation. With very little confidence in the market, either from domestic consumers or overseas investment, more positive growth in the banking and finance sector is currently doubtful. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe acts as the central monetary authority of the country. Founded in 1964, the central bank supervises micro-finance institutions, building societies, money-lending institutions, and banks in Zimbabwe. It also formulates and implements monetary policies, maintains price stability, and promotes a stable financial system. Other key players in Zimbabwe’s financial sector include insurance companies, pension and provident funds, investment trusts, and offshore portfolio investors.
Steam locomotives are still used in Zimbabwe; they have proven so popular with tourists that there are plans to refurbish several more steam locomotives. However, funding is constrained, and diesel-hauled freight transport is a higher priority. In 2010, an agreement was signed between the governments of Botswana and Moçambique for a new 1100km freight railway between the two countries, which would pass through Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe network has international connections with South Africa, Moçambique, Botswana, and Zambia. The connection with Moçambique is in poor condition and subject to severe speed limits, but in 2019 work commenced on its rehabilitation. Apart from a local tourist service and various long-distance luxury cruise trains crossing the Victoria Falls bridge, the only regular international passenger service is jointly operated with Botswana Railways and runs 3 times per week between Bulawayo and Francistown, Botswana.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, formerly known as the Harare International Airport, is an international airport in Harare, Zimbabwe. It is the largest airport in the country and serves as the base of Air Zimbabwe. In August 2018, Boeing announced that it in negotiations with Zimbabwean authorities to establish a regional hub for Boeing airplanes for providing training and expert technical services at the airport. Other airports include Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, to mention a few.
Primary roads are the most trafficked and most link neighboring countries. One such road is the Zimbabwean portion of the Trans-African Highway as it passes through western Zimbabwe. This part of the road network plays a major role in the importation and exportation of the country's ware and transit freight. Among the primary roads, some roads are classified as Regional Road Corridors, while some are just primary roads.
The domestic system consists of microwave radio relay links, open-wire lines, radiotelephone communication stations, fixed wireless local loop installations, and a substantial mobile cellular network. Internet connection is available in most major towns that include Harare, Gweru Bulawayo, Mutare through fiber optic and other remote parts through satellite communication. There are a total of 16 radio stations that broadcast locally, 6 broadcasts nationally, the other 10 broadcasts provincially and are located in the country's major cities. The national broadcaster owns 4 national and 2 provincial radio stations.
2016 saw the launch of 8 regionals, private-owned radio stations and in 2018, ZBC launched 2 more provincial stations, Khulumani FM in Bulawayo and 95.8 Central Radio in Gweru.
There is 1 state-controlled television station, ZBC TV. Satellite TV providers including DStv are available, in 2013 Zimbabwe saw the introduction of its first pay-TV. In 2017, Kwesé TV a subsidiary of Econet Global which was founded by Zimbabwean Entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa has been delayed license to operate in Zimbabwe by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
There are three GSM mobile network operators, namely Econet, Net One and Telecel. The current subscriber base in June 2011 to these three mobile operators were 5,521,000 people for Econet, 1,297,000 for Net One, and 1,349,000 for Telecel. All of these operators are 100 percent digitalized and offer 2G, GPRS, EDGE, 3G and 4G LTE services. Currently, there are 6.796 million internet users.
The tourism sector underwent huge changes over the crisis period but the tourism sector has been on the rise for the past 2 years. Nonetheless, Zimbabwe is distinctive in Africa for its large number of medieval era city ruins built in a unique dry stone style. Possibly the most famous of these is Great Zimbabwe ruins in Masvingo which survive from the Kingdom of Zimbabwe era. Other ruins include Khami Ruins, Zimbabwe, Dhlo-Dhlo and Naletale. The Victoria Falls National Park is also a tourist attraction in this area and is one of the eight main National Parks in Zimbabwe, the largest of which is Hwange National Park. Other famous tourist sites in Zimbabwe include The Eastern Highlands, Mt. Binga, to mention a few.
Traditional arts in Zimbabwe include pottery, basketry, textiles, jewelry, and carving. Among the distinctive qualities are symmetrically patterned woven baskets and stools carved out of a single piece of wood. Also, the Shona people have created many sculptures and carvings which are made with the finest materials available. Also, a recurring theme in Zimbabwean art is the metamorphosis of man into beast. Among members of the white minority community, the theatre has a large following, with numerous theatrical companies performing in Zimbabwe's urban areas.
Education in Zimbabwe is taught in English, Shona, and Ndebele. Many rural primary schools teach in the native language until grade three; then, school is taught in English.
Zimbabweans depend on staple foods. "Mealie meal", or cornmeal, is used to prepare “bota”, a porridge made by mixing cornmeal with water to make a thick paste which is eaten for breakfast. Cornmeal is also used to make sadza, which is usually eaten for dinner or lunch and is usually served with vegetables, beans, and meat. Rice and chicken with coleslaw salad are often served as a main meal.
Football is the most popular sport, aside from rugby union, cricket, netball, and field hockey. Zimbabwe has produced many athletes and has won eight Olympic medals (up until 2018) since they first participated in 1980. There is also a room for the young lads to have the opportunity to compete with other youth soccer teams from around the world. Zimbabwe has two professional soccer leagues, the Zimbabwe Football Association and the CBZ’s Premier League.