Mugabe’s ruinous reign by numbers

Glory days:Bulawayo's Woolworths was one of the first in Africa, when the economy was strong
Glory days:Bulawayo's Woolworths was one of the first in Africa, when the economy was strong

In his near four-decade hold on power, President Robert Mugabe presided over the implosion of an economy that once was hailed as the “breadbasket of Africa”. Staff Writer, MBONGENI MGUNI, looks at the numbers that tell the story


The average per capita wealth prevailing in Zimbabwe at the time of the 1980 general elections, which ushered Mugabe into power



Average wealth per person in the country by 1990, following a few years of solid growth



The average wealth per person in Zimbabwe by 2001 when the economy went into freefall, dropping by more than 400% within three months. The collapse was precipitated by farm invasions and an extension of Mugabe’s reign, which he achieved despite an adverse referendum result in 2000



The average wealth of a person in Zimbabwe at the end of 2016, one of the lowest in the world and the result of years of economic and political misrule, the erosion of key institutions and entrenchment of state-led corruption



The amount the Zimbabwe government gave to 50,000 veterans of the liberation war struggle in 1997, a move that resulted in the Zimbabwe dollar losing 70% of its value in one day. The move heralded the economic collapse Zimbabwe finds itself in and 15 years later, the veterans were again demanding another payout



The annual inflation in Zimbabwe at Independence, when US$1 was equivalent to 66 Zimbabwe cents and approximately 95% of all transactions used the Zimbabwean dollar



The average level of inflation by 2007, after about eight years of ruinous economic policies, led by the farm invasions, institutionalisation of a dictatorship, price controls and others


79.6 billion percent

The inflation rate in Zimbabwe in 2008, its peak. The situation was the result of the currency’s collapse due to farm invasions, breakdown in the economy’s productive capacity, the printing of money to finance a corrupt engagement in the Democratic Republic of Congo civil war in 2000 and others. At that level, which is still the second highest ever recorded in the world, prices were doubling every 24.7 hours in Zimbabwe.



Zimbabwe’s real growth at Independence, when Mugabe’s government inherited a functioning economy with strong agricultural and mineral production.



The economy slumped to negative three percent in 1986 due to a persistent drought, which impacted negatively on the country’s foreign exchange. It would later rebound to average a positive 4.5% between 1980 and 1990.


- 17.2%

Real growth in Zimbabwe by 2003, as the snowball effect of the war veterans’ payout, farm invasions and capital flight by alarmed investors shrank the economy to a point where it could not sustain its citizens



The forecast economic growth for Zimbabwe in 2017, a positive trend that has obtained for several years following the adoption of the US dollar and other positive economic measures. The recovery is due to be helped by a rebound in agricultural production.

Editor's Comment
Seamless Business Environment Needed Post-COVID

The country was also classified as the least corrupt in the world with strong anti-graft checks and balances. With these assurances, investors were guaranteed safety on their investments and returns. That is no longer the case. Several countries like Namibia, South Africa and Mauritius have done well over the years and overtaken Botswana as attractive places to do business.Therefore, when countries that Botswana is competing with for a piece of...

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