Mugabe’s Misdeeds & Zimbabwe’s Path to Hell

Mugabe's Misdeeds

William Church | Managing Director CIWARS

Mugabe’s Misdeeds

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Zimbabwe’s current unrest cannot be solely attributed to climate change, as the 2015 drought merely worsened an already dire situation. The country is facing a severe food shortage, with a shortfall of over $200 million in emergency food funding for nearly five million Zimbabweans. This crisis is a result of the misdeeds of former President Robert Mugabe, whose actions have left Zimbabwe in a state of disarray.

Agricultural Decline and Economic Consequences

Even before the drought, Zimbabwe’s agricultural production was declining. Maize production dropped from two million tonnes in 2000 to 600,000 tonnes in 2012, while wheat production fell from 300,000 tonnes in 2001 to a mere 10,000 tonnes in 2012. Soy products and beef production also experienced significant declines. The country’s agriculture exports were struggling to recover from a low in 2007 when the 2015 drought hit. Zimbabwe’s GDP growth rate plummeted from 10.6 percent in 2012 to 3.9 percent in 2014, and currently hovers just above one percent. Agriculture’s contribution to GDP fell from 19.4 percent in 2008 to slightly over 10 percent.

Currency Shortage and Mining Industry Collapse

Zimbabwe has replaced its currency with US dollars, but there is a shortage of dollars to pay for increasing imports. Dollar reserves have dwindled due to depleted exports and increased imports, leading to the collapse of the mining industry in 2015-2016. Falling gold prices and the government’s decision to nationalize remaining mining companies devastated the gold and diamond industries. The easily accessible diamonds had already been mined, and continued operations required more investment and different methods.

Political and Civil Unrest

Robert Mugabe has lost his grip on power, facing daily defiance from various sectors. Government employees and the military have suspended work due to lack of pay, while riots have erupted over an import ban that affected daily traders. Mugabe suffered a significant blow when his long-standing constituency of War Veterans withdrew their support. His wife, Grace Mugabe, who wields increasing power, has been a disaster for Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF. She clashed with former Vice President Joice Mujuru, leading to Mujuru forming a new party, ZIM-PF, and gaining support from respected war veteran Brigadier General Mutambara.

The Uncertain Transition

With two years left in Mugabe’s presidential term, it is widely believed that his presidency is effectively over. However, Zimbabwe has no history of a smooth presidential transition, as Mugabe has been the only president since the country’s birth. The only hope for a smooth transition lies in the continued rule of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, but the party is fractured. Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s chosen successor, is being sidelined by Grace Mugabe, leading to the disavowal of Mugabe by the War Veterans.

International Aid and Potential Consequences

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is on the verge of granting Zimbabwe a one billion dollar loan, breaking a long-standing boycott of the Mugabe government. Additionally, an unknown country has provided nearly one billion dollars to pay off the World Bank, and the African Export Import Bank has given Zimbabwe $600 million to pay off the African Development Bank. While this financial aid could provide much-needed relief, it is contingent on an unlikely smooth political transition, which seems doubtful.

The Way Forward

To address the complex situation in Zimbabwe, it is crucial for the international community to recognize the multifaceted nature of the crisis and work with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) for a solution. Re-engagement with Zimbabwe is necessary to assist during this transitional period and help shape a new future for the country. However, this re-engagement must be conducted from a balanced standpoint to support Zimbabwe’s next stage of development.

Potential Consequences for Europe and Beyond

The destabilization of Zimbabwe could lead to a significant influx of migrants and refugees into South Africa, which is already divided on the issue of neighbouring country migrants. It could also contribute to the flow of migrants to Europe, potentially adding 100,000 Africans to the existing migration crisis. The destabilization of Zimbabwe and Southern Africa as a whole could have far-reaching economic consequences, affecting not only Africa but also Europe.


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