When the Music Stops Learning from the Mugabe Years for Zimbabwe's Economic Future

Published 30 November 2017

In light of the current political transition in Zimbabwe, we are pleased to announce the release of a Discussion Paper by the eminent Zimbabwean economist, John Robertson. This Paper examines the history of Zimbabwe’s post-independence economy and charts a path to recovery going forward.

Zimbabwe was once a leading economy of Southern Africa with a thriving agricultural sector, an investment haven with a burgeoning and educated youth. The country has since experienced a disastrous economic decline. Controversial economic policies, such as the accelerated land reform programme and the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, aimed to isolate market forces and place the economy into the hands of the ruling party, have undermined the market basis of the economy.

Recent political change provides hope of a new policy direction. Moreover, Zimbabwe still possesses vast mineral and agricultural potential, as well as a skilled and innovative population which the Zimbabwean government – if receptive to reform – can capitalise on. Considering the country’s ongoing leadership changes, this Discussion Paper charts key developments that led to Zimbabwe’s economic decline. It further identifies the lessons learned and presents three main challenges for economic recovery that the incoming President will face: (1) reaffirming respect for investors, (2) passing constitutional amendments in favour of property rights, and (3) deferring to market forces.

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