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Zimbabwe has only enjoyed recognized autonomy since 1980, the year in which the United Kingdom repealed its imperialistic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,