Economic Development in Zimbabwe

Economic Development in Zimbabwe

The country of Zimbabwe is one of the most economically developed on the African
continent . A fairly young political entity, Zimbabwe has only enjoyed
recognized autonomy since 1980, the year in which the United Kingdom repealed
its imperialistic claims to the African nation . Despite its youth the country
has achieved a level of economic development uncharacteristic of sub-Saharan
African nations. Second only to South Africa in economic development, Zimbabwe\'s
economic system is one indicative of a transitional country, a country making
the transition from dependency underdevelopment to self-reliant
industrialization. The purpose of this essay is to make a cursory but adequate
examination of Zimbabwean socio-economic and political system, as means to
analyzing the countries economic development. The ultimate purpose of this study
is to provide a model of the structure necessary to achieve economic development
where none previously existed. Zimbabwe is an appropriate model because the
dynamics of underdevelopment to development in this country are readily apparent.
This model can be useful in understanding underdevelopment in other so called
"third-world" countries and in determining what is necessary for these countries
to make the transition to industrialization.


Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in the southern, sub-Saharan area of the
African continent bordered by South Africa to the South, Botswana to the West,
Mozambique to the East and Zambia to the North. With an area of 391,090 km2
Zimbabwe is only slightly larger than the state of Colorado. Harare is
Zimbabwe\'s capital and largest city with a population of 1,100,000. Containing
vast amounts of rare mineralogical resources and possessing a favorable growing
climate Zimbabwe\'s economy is drawn almost equally between the mining of
minerals ($2.2 billion) and the production of staples and cash crops ($2.1
billion) .


Zimbabweans are comprised of two primary ethnic groups, the Shona, comprising
74% of the population and the Ndebele comprising 20%. Other ethnic black groups
and Asians make up 4% of the population while whites make up just over 1% of the
population. Zimbabwe has a population of 10.35 million people with a population
density of 24 persons per km2. 1992 census figures estimate Zimbabwe\'s growth at
3.0% with 90% of this growth rate within the Shona group. This 3.0% growth is
quite rapid given its relation to the countries declining annual growth rate of
-15% .


Zimbabwe\'s history dates back to the 9th century A.D., the believed period in
which many great buildings were built, buildings clearly indicative of an early
and great civilization. Of the many sites the most impressive is the Great Stone
House or Great Zimbabwe the source of the countries name. Despite the impressive
nature of the Great Zimbabwe and the other building sites, it is believed that
the civilization that created them did not survive to see the new millennium .

Some 900 years after the construction of the Great Zimbabwe many other sights
were built as Zimbabwe became the object of British colonialism in 1888. It was
in this year that John Cecil Rhodes obtained mineral rights for the British
throne and began the process of bringing Zimbabwe home to Great Britain. Pleased
with his accomplishment the throne honored Rhodes by lending his name to the
area, now calling it Rhodesia. Headed by Rhodes the British South Africa Company
(BSA) was chartered in 1889 with the responsibility of colonizing the areas of
Northern and Southern Rhodesia and bringing back to the Kingdom the vast
mineralogical resources Rhodesia had to offer .

Although a colony, throughout the existence of its charter Rhodesia enjoyed
self-governing and perceived autonomy. The United Kingdom reserved the right to
intervene in the policies of Rhodesia at any prompting, but this right was
rarely employed leaving Rhodesia\'s autonomy all but assumed. The perceived
autonomy the nation enjoyed allowed for the emergence of factions interested in
developing Rhodesia\'s mineralogical and agricultural potential for the purpose
of stimulating domestic growth only. Although growth would benefit the country
as a whole, it would benefit whites specifically by design. An apartheid-type
land apportionment act passed in 1934 allotted key resource rich areas to whites
only. The perceived autonomy and racists nature of Rhodesia would have great
implications late in the countries political future.


By 1960 Rhodesia was a country of two factions: the ruling white minority who
wanted complete independence from the United Kingdom and the indigenous African
majority who wanted greater control of their country and an end to institutional
racism. On November 11, 1965 in a step to hasten along political change white
progressives announced the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) thereby
declaring their independence from Great Britain . The British government was not
hostile to the UDI