Social Cultural and Economic Context of Zimbabwe

Topics: Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai Pages: 5 (1614 words) Published: June 29, 2013
The fall of the Ian Smith led Rhodesian government led to Zimbabwe gaining its independence in 1980. The ZANU PF government led by then Prime Minister Mugabe of the ZANU PF party embraced a policy of national reconciliation between races in order to encourage amity, nation-building and economic growth between the country’s white minority and black majority racial groups. This lead to a period of growth throughout the 1980s, the economy performed extremely well, which led the Central government expenditure to triple and increase its share from 32.5% of GDP in 1979 to 44.6% in 1989(Hazzlewood, 1967:284). Having inherited a socially skewed system of allocation of resources from its predecessor, the ZANU PF government began to rectify this distribution of resources from the mainly white domiciled areas in the urban areas and commercial farms to rural parts of Zimbabwe focusing on provision of clean water (Transitional National Development Plan, pp. 61-62), and providing educational resources in areas where prior to independence there had been none (International Education Journal, 2005, 6(1), 65-74 Gibbs Y. Kanyongo). However towards the end of the 80’s the growth experienced shortly after independence waned and by the early 90’s Zimbabwe fell into an economic crisis forcing it to implement IMF and World Bank proposed Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) which was designed to lure investors into the country and remove any limitations on growth on the country. This policy forced the government to create a free market place in which the government’s reach would be miniscule and market forces would rule the day (Dansereau, ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’, p. 13). This policy eroded what little socio-economic gains that had been made in the first decade of the newly independent state (L. Sachikonye, ‘Whither Zimbabwe? Crisis and Democratisation) by introducing government spending on the socialist policies such as free education and projects with the intention of improving the infrastructure of the country to those habitant in the rural areas of the country who had been neglected by the former colonial government. This was followed by the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) included among other things, removal of price and wage controls, reduction of government expenditure, a 40 per cent devaluation of Zimbabwean Dollar, removal of subsidies on basic consumer goods, a radical restructuring of various parastatals and other public enterprises (Sichone, 2003:1). SAPs also coincided with the years of drought (1992, 1993, 1995) which put a heavy burden on an economy that was mainly reliant on commercial agriculture through its export of teas, cotton and tobacco. This already fragile economy was later shattered by the war veterans unbudgeted pay outs in 1997 which culminated in what is widely referred to as “Black Friday”14th of November 2007(L.Mambondiani :newzimbabwe.com). Already reeling the economy took another hit via the chaotic fast-track land reform that took place in 2000 which led to the United States freezing lines of credit by means of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001. This land reform led to vastly inexperienced persons receiving large tracts of farmland with virtually no experience which resulted in a substantial decrease in agricultural yields (Dancaescu, Nick. Note. Land reform in Zimbabwe. 15 Fla. J. Int'l L. 615 (2003). This led to an enormous decline in agricultural production which in turn led to chronic food shortages which were borne by the people of Zimbabwe. This further compounded by underperforming state owned enterprises whose debt obligations were undertaken by the government. This led to rampant inflation which by 2008 had reached +11 000 000 per cent July leading to the rebasing of the currency by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe by removing 3 zeros and issuing new bearer checks which did nothing to alleviate the situation as the zeros quickly reappeared . On top of all...
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