How Robert Mugabe ruined Zimbabwe


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In late 2016 it became a common sight in the capital of Zimbabwe to see fearful citizens queuing outside banks, waiting hopefully for cash.

It was the most obvious manifestation of the shortage of American dollars, which has prompted Robert Mugabe’s latest economic scheme.

In November the central bank started printing a new kind of money, in the form of a “the bond note”.

Ostensibly the note is worth the same as the American dollar, which Zimbabwe adopted in 2008 after a spectacular bout of inflation—but no one is fooled.

The stage is set for yet another Mugabe-made economic disaster.

Zimbabwe once enjoyed an abundance of natural resources, a booming agricultural sector and a wealth of human capital, but over the past 37 years Mr Mugabe has managed to squander nearly all of it.

Almost a quarter of Zimbabweans are currently in need of food assistance and 72% live in poverty.

Within a generation, Mr Mugabe has turned an entire country upside down.

How did he manage to wreck Zimbabwe?

Mr Mugabe was a Marxist guerrilla who came to power in 1980 after the country won its independence from Britain.

Mr Mugabe made a promising start—calling for reconciliation with white Zimbabweans, and improving access to education and health care for all.

But his early policies were overshadowed by what followed.

To support the cost of various schemes, Mr Mugabe overspent wildly—a practice he has continued throughout his administration.

And as he clung to power over the decades his rule became autocratic, undemocratic and oppressive.

This has all caused typical forms of suffering.

But the way in which Mr Mugabe has brought Zimbabwe to its knees is through gross economic mismanagement.

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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