We cannot talk about the SADC region without talking about Zimbabwe a country which was nick named the “Breadbasket of Africa”. In the 1990’s, Zimbabwe used to produce a lot of wheat which is the major raw material for bread making and many African states used to import their wheat from Zimbabwe thus making it the Breadbasket. Some writers have disputed this claim by saying that Zimbabwe was never a breadbasket of Africa because none of its Agricultural produce per product surpassed 10% contribution to Africa’s total output. They failed to see that the production capacity and diversity of products that Zimbabwe could produce due to the quality of soil and highly favourable climate which allowed the country to produce to the export market Tobacco, Wheat and Maize.
Zimbabwe, meaning the ‘House of Stones’ in Shona, is a landlocked country which has an Estimated population of 14.9 Million and GDP of $24.6 Billion (World bank 2018) has been through a lot Politically, Economically and Socially. Zimbabwe however managed to remain the largest producer of tobacco in Africa and 6th in the world. In the Mining sector Zimbabwe has also done well in gold production as it produced 33 tonnes surpassing its 2018 output projections.
The current economic situation in Zimbabwe has seen hunger striking in urban cities with 37% of urban populace requiring food aid meaning the former breadbasket of Africa is failing even to feed its own. Drought and currency reforms have also contributed to food shortages with prices being determined by the currency being exchanged and the payment system. The money in a Bank accounts is known as – RTGS Dollar, physical cash in local currency – Bond Note, United States Dollar – USD and also ZAR. Surprisingly goods prices are determined by the mode of payment. The RTGS currency traded at 3.48 per USD in the interbank market as of Tuesday 21 May, and at 6 per USD on the black market (Street Value). So practically a loaf of bread going for $3.48 bond (USD 1). On the NEIL ECONOMIC SCALE a litre of petrol prices have skyrocketed to $4.99 (US $1.43 – ZAR 20,57) per litre with a 330ml Can of Coke not available in stores but alternatives like Pepsi selling at $2 (US $0.60 – ZAR 8.63).
Today two or more friends cannot dive into an objective discussion about Zimbabwe without mentioning historical and present events which include the Land Reform, Currency Reforms, Politics and Other Government policies that have impacted on the day to day of citizens. This has blinded people to see the potential Zimbabwe has from the rich fertile soil, minerals underground, great climate, Literacy and hard work ethic of the friendly nation that stands out above the crowd with its high education level. The Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River is a major thrill among the tourists who visit Zimbabwe. Exotic bird life, flora and fauna, highland mountains and flowing rivers remarkably boost the beauty of the country.
Interestingly, Some Biblical scholars have tried to determine the exact location of Ophir, the biblical land where King Solomon received precious items, is believed to be the present location of Zimbabwe. Vasco da Gama’s companion Tomé Lopes reasoned that Ophir would have been the ancient name for Great Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe, the main centre of sub-African trade in gold in the Renaissance period — though the ruins at Great Zimbabwe are now dated to the medieval era, long after Solomon is said to have lived. Thank you, Dennis you are such a researcher!
With the end of the Mugabe rule in 2017 and the “new “ rulers trying to do all to stabilise the economy and bring prosperity to the land, one must think that with all the resources at hand, why can this nation not rise again. From Tabaco to Diamonds, the question of the Smoking Gun will remain! Tatenda, Mazvita.