Zimbabwe: What Went Wrong? When?

Zimbabwe: What Went Wrong? When?

In 1923 Southern Rhodesia became a self-governing British Colony and although in 1965 the then Prime Minister, Ian Smith, declared Rhodesia independent and Great Britain declared this action illegal, we saw the official recognition of Zimbabwe's independence in April 1980 when Prince Charles handed over the country to RGM.

Zimbabwe's economic structure was one of great potential. In the years prior to its independence great emphasis was put in developing the mining industry and as a result it was one of the most developed in Africa. The mining of such minerals as copper, nickel, gold, and metallurgical-grade ferrochromite was responsible for nearly half the countries Gross Domestic Product (GDP) . The other half of Zimbabwe's GDP was generated primarily in the agricultural sector with the majority of this produced at subsistence levels by most of the population. Zimbabwe clearly had the potential to generate agriculture beyond the subsistence level and thereby eliminate any degree of shortage. In any event subsistence was sufficient to eliminate shortage if not for droughts. Zimbabwe's mineral export industry was also very key to the nations developmental success. Although small, the country's mining industry was modernised and strategically developed toward exports. Many paved roads link mines and other industries together that complement mining such as heavy machinery. Also, the areas within the vicinity of the mines were being developed and urbanized to ensure an adequate and able workforce.

The new regime inherited one of the most structurally developed economies and effective state systems in Africa. Initially the government followed a corporatist model where the government sought to manage the economy. Some of these policies were a continuation those created by its predecessor to deal with sanctions imposed in 1965.

During this period, a whole range of new economic policies were propagated in conjunction with international aid agencies. The young...

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