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Interview with Africa Agenda 





Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa. The capital city of Zimbabwe is Harare and Bulawayo is Zimbabwe's second largest city. Zimbabwe sits on a high plateau, with mountains in the east and is separated from neighboring countries by the Zambezi River and Limpopo River. It is bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Mozambique. Zimbabwe has three official languages - English, Shona and Ndelbele. Zimbabwe is the former British crown colony of Southern Rhodesia with a population of about 12.5 million. President Robert Mugabe is the head of State and Morgan Tsvangirai is the Prime Minister. Mugabe has been in power since the country gained independence in 1980.

From 1999 to 2008, Zimbabwe experience an economic and food crisis, described by some observers as the country's worst humanitarian crisis since independence. The crisis has been attributed in varying degrees to the government's price controls and land confiscations, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and a drought affecting the entire region. In September 2008, a power-sharing agreement was reached between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, in which Mugabe remained president and Tsvangirai became prime minister. Due to ministerial differences between their respective political parties, the agreement was not fully implemented until 13 February 2009, two days after the swearing in of Tsvangirai as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

In November 2010, the IMF described the Zimbabwean economy as "completing its second year of buoyant economic growth after a decade of economic decline", mentioning "strengthening policies" and "favorable shocks" as main reasons for the economic growth.  In December 2010 President Mugabe threatened to further expropriate privately-owned companies unless "western sanctions" were lifted. He said: "Why should we continue having companies and organisations that are supported by Britain and America without hitting back? Time has come for us to [take] revenge. We can read the riot act and say this is 51 percent we are taking and if the sanctions persist we are taking over 100 percent."

Journalist Nicholas D. Kristof reported that life continues to be considerably worse for the majority of the nation than under the Rhodesian Front government, this despite improvements since the beginning of the power-sharing government.  However more recent studies, such as a 2011 survey by Freedom House, suggest that living conditions have improved on a wide front since the power-sharing agreement. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states in its 2012–2013 planning document that the "humanitarian situation has improved in Zimbabwe since 2009, but conditions remain precarious for many people".

The precarious conditions of many Zimbabweans, can be illustrated through the facts below:

  • Crude death rate was 6.1/1000 in 1987 and 17.2/1000 in 2007
  • Infant mortality rate was 53/1000 in 1990 and 81/1000 in 2009
  • HIV prevalence has been declining: It was 27% in 1997, 24% in 2001, 18% in 2005, and 14% in 2009.
  • Adult literacy rate is 90%, which is the highest in Africa; yet the unemployment rate is 80%
  • Zimbabwe was a major tobacco producer and a potential bread basket for surrounding countries before 2000, and now has to import its food, due to the eviction of more than 4,000 white farmers in controversial land redistribution of 2000.
  • There is considered to be a lucrative mining sector, with some of the world's largest platinum reserves.  Marange diamond fields were discovered in 200 with the biggest diamond find in over a century. However, most revenues to disappear into the pockets of army officers and politicians.
  • 60% of Zimbabwe's wildlife has died since 2000 due to poaching and deforestation


To read more about Zimbabwe, click on the following links: WHO (World Health Organization), CIA (The World Factbook) and the BBC