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Zimbabwe After Mugabe: Ready for Change

Author: Michelle D. Gavin, Adjunct Fellow for Africa
August-September 2007
World Today

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Recent reports suggest that Zimbabwe's crisis has entered a new, utterly unsustainable phase. Over three million of the country's 12.3 million citizens have fled. Official inflation rates exceed four thousand percent, and economists believe inflation is actually over ten thousand percent. Stability cannot survive that kind of hyperinflation; only clear political change and an internationally-backed stabilisation programme can remedy the situation.

The litany of appaling statistics about economic collapse is depressingly familiar. Four of every five Zimbabweans are jobless and gross domestic product has shrunk by forty percent since 1998. According to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture organization and the World Food Program, 35 percent of Zimbabweans will need food assistance by early next year and UNICEF reports that almost one-third of children are now stunted by malnutrition. All of this in a country that used to reliably export food to its neighbours.

The end of President Robert Mugabe's disastrous tenure as head of state may finally be coming. He will leave a shattered economy and a traumatised population as well as a range of tremendously difficult questions about government accountability and the future of his ruling party, ZANU-PF.

The most sensitive issues, particularly those regarding responsibility for the gross human rights abuses and serious financial crimes of the past, must be resolved by Zimbabweans themselves, with international support. But the donor and business communities also have critically important roles to play in Zimbabwe's recovery.

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