Economic Development in ZimbabweThe country of Zimbabwe is one of the most economically developed on the Africancontinent .
A fairly young political entity, Zimbabwe has only enjoyedrecognized autonomy since 1980, the year in which the United Kingdom repealedits imperialistic claims to the African nation . Despite its youth the countryhas achieved a level of economic development uncharacteristic of sub-SaharanAfrican nations. Second only to South Africa in economic development, Zimbabwe’seconomic system is one indicative of a transitional country, a country makingthe transition from dependency underdevelopment to self-reliantindustrialization. The purpose of this essay is to make a cursory but adequateexamination of Zimbabwean socio-economic and political system, as means toanalyzing the countries economic development. The ultimate purpose of this studyis to provide a model of the structure necessary to achieve economic developmentwhere none previously existed. Zimbabwe is an appropriate model because thedynamics of underdevelopment to development in this country are readily apparent.
This model can be useful in understanding underdevelopment in other so called”third-world” countries and in determining what is necessary for these countriesto make the transition to industrialization.GeographyZimbabwe is a landlocked country in the southern, sub-Saharan area of theAfrican continent bordered by South Africa to the South, Botswana to the West,Mozambique to the East and Zambia to the North. With an area of 391,090 km2Zimbabwe is only slightly larger than the state of Colorado. Harare isZimbabwe’s capital and largest city with a population of 1,100,000. Containingvast amounts of rare mineralogical resources and possessing a favorable growingclimate Zimbabwe’s economy is drawn almost equally between the mining ofminerals ($2.2 billion) and the production of staples and cash crops ($2.1billion) .
PeopleZimbabweans are comprised of two primary ethnic groups, the Shona, comprising74% of the population and the Ndebele comprising 20%. Other ethnic black groupsand Asians make up 4% of the population while whites make up just over 1% of thepopulation. Zimbabwe has a population of 10.35 million people with a populationdensity of 24 persons per km2. 1992 census figures estimate Zimbabwe’s growth at3.0% with 90% of this growth rate within the Shona group. This 3.0% growth isquite rapid given its relation to the countries declining annual growth rate of-15% .
HistoryZimbabwe’s history dates back to the 9th century A.D., the believed period inwhich many great buildings were built, buildings clearly indicative of an earlyand great civilization.
Of the many sites the most impressive is the Great StoneHouse or Great Zimbabwe the source of the countries name. Despite the impressivenature of the Great Zimbabwe and the other building sites, it is believed thatthe civilization that created them did not survive to see the new millennium .Some 900 years after the construction of the Great Zimbabwe many other sightswere built as Zimbabwe became the object of British colonialism in 1888. It wasin this year that John Cecil Rhodes obtained mineral rights for the Britishthrone and began the process of bringing Zimbabwe home to Great Britain. Pleasedwith his accomplishment the throne honored Rhodes by lending his name to thearea, now calling it Rhodesia. Headed by Rhodes the British South Africa Company(BSA) was chartered in 1889 with the responsibility of colonizing the areas ofNorthern and Southern Rhodesia and bringing back to the Kingdom the vastmineralogical resources Rhodesia had to offer .
Although a colony, throughout the existence of its charter Rhodesia enjoyedself-governing and perceived autonomy. The United Kingdom reserved the right tointervene in the policies of Rhodesia at any prompting, but this right wasrarely employed leaving Rhodesia’s autonomy all but assumed. The perceivedautonomy the nation enjoyed allowed for the emergence of factions interested indeveloping Rhodesia’s mineralogical and agricultural potential for the purposeof stimulating domestic growth only. Although growth would benefit the countryas a whole, it would benefit whites specifically by design. An apartheid-typeland apportionment act passed in 1934 allotted key resource rich areas to whitesonly. The perceived autonomy and racists nature of Rhodesia would have greatimplications late in the countries political future.
PoliticsBy 1960 Rhodesia was a country of two factions: the ruling white minority whowanted complete independence from the United Kingdom and the indigenous Africanmajority who wanted greater control of their country and an end to institutionalracism. On November 11, 1965 in a step to hasten along political change whiteprogressives announced the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) therebydeclaring their independence from Great Britain . The British government was nothostile to the UDI but did insist that the Rhodesian government demonstrate itsintention to move toward free and democratic majority rule. Considering themajority of Rhodesia was African the ruling whites were diametrically opposed toany such form of majority rule government and refused to meet Great Britain’sconditions of independence.
On December 16, 1966 Rhodesia made history by being the first country subject toUnited Nations economic sanctions, suffering a complete embargo on key exportsand imports . With a dilapidating economy and African discontent with the whiteruling minority Rhodesia fell into a period of economic and political turmoilbreeding uncertainty and general political instability.In 1974 Rhodesia’s two primary black nationalists parties combined to form afront against Rhodesia’s governing policy. Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe AfricanNational Union (ZANU) and Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU)united together to form a “Patriotic Front” against the segregationist regime ofPrime Minister Ian Smith . In 1976, under great political, economic, and socialpressure Smith ceded to foreign and domestic demands and agreed to majority rulein principle. Through diplomatic channels and under British auspices Rhodesiamade the transition to majority rule and on December 21, 1979 political reformswere unofficially agreed upon. As a condition of this agreement Rhodesia wasgranted independence from the Commonwealth, and all U.N.
sanctions were liftedwith a decree that Rhodesia was to be internationally recognized as a politicalstate .In late February, 1980 free democratic election were held in Rhodesia for thefirst time with Mugabe’s ZANU(PF) achieving an absolute majority. Upon thevictory of his party Mugabe was asked to form the first government of thecountry of Zimbabwe. On April 18, 1980 the British Government formally grantedindependence to the former Rhodesia and four months later Zimbabwe wasindoctrinated as a member of the United Nations .Zimbabwe’s political system exists to this day as democratic and majoritarianall implemented through a parliamentary system. Robert Mugabe remains asPresident and utilizes a foreign policy of non-alignment. Despite this Zimbabweis a member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and performs primarytrade with its neighboring African state South Africa. It is the period from1980 to the present that is most fundamental in understanding Zimbabwe’seconomic system because it is in this period that Zimbabwe’s economic structurebest reveals itself.
EconomicsZimbabwe’s economic structure is one of great potential. In the years prior toits independence Zimbabwe put great emphasis in developing its mining industryand as a result it is one of the most developed in Africa. The mining of suchminerals as copper, nickel, gold, and metallurgical-grade ferrochromite isresponsible for nearly half the countries $4.9 billion Gross Domestic Product(GDP) . The other half of Zimbabwe’s GDP is generated primarily in theagricultural sector with the majority of this produced at subsistence levels bymost of the population.Zimbabwe clearly has the potential to generate agriculture beyond thesubsistence level and thereby eliminate any degree of shortage. In any eventsubsistence would be sufficient to eliminate shortage if not for recentdevastating droughts.
Zimbabwe’s mineral export industry is key to the nations developmental success.Although small, the countries mining industry is modernized and strategicallydeveloped toward exports. Many paved roads link mines and other industriestogether that complement mining such as heavy machinery. Also, the areas withinthe vicinity of the mines are highly developed and urbanized to ensure anadequate and able workforce.
Finally, Zimbabwe participates in non-aligned tradefor non-strategic products such as textiles. This greatly reduces the countrieschance of becoming dependent on a trade partner.ConclusionIn many ways Zimbabwe is a model for third-world economic development. Althoughnot yet fully developed Zimbabwe clearly has the potential to be a full fledgeddeveloped nation. Beyond its vast resources Zimbabwe is structured in a way topromote development. This fact in and of itself distinguishes Zimbabwe from mostother Lesser Developed Countries (LDC). Zimbabwe’s economic structure is one inwhich they are essentially self-sufficient and trade only for profit or forconsumer goods.
Also they perform trade with many partners with no singlepartner comprising garnering more than 15% of import or export goods. Bystructuring the Zimbabwe’s economic system in a way that keeps its partnersdiversified and its imports non-strategic, Mugabe has successfully led hisnation to the path of development. The barriers left to full development arequite minimal compared to the ones already dominated, The structure ofZimbabwe’s economic system is truly a model of economic development.