How Bad is the Situation in Zimbabwe?
Things have been bad in Zimbabwe for a long time now and it appears now in late 2008 it is getting much worse. The people living there probably thought it couldn’t get much worse, but it is. Just how bad are things in Zimbabwe now.
History of Zimbabwe
We need to look back at the history of this African country first. Zimbabwe is located just north of South Africa in southern Africa. Zimbabwe is slightly larger than the state of Montana and has a population of 12 million.
It was an official British colony since 1923 when it was called Southern Rhodesia (Northern Rhodesia is now Zambia), some maps just had Rhodesia on it since that was also its name. In 1965 the conservative white minority government declared its independence from Great Britain. Ian Smith was the country’s prime minister, who resisted the demands of the black majority in his effort to maintain white supremacy. In 1970 Rhodesia proclaimed itself as a republic. By 1976 guerilla war was threatening the country and Ian Smiths’ hold on the country.
There were Black Nationalist movements led by moderates of the African National Congress and also guerilla leaders like Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) who advocated war and revolution. In 1978 there was an agreement reached that would transfer power to the black majority. Rebel leaders like Robert Mugabe denounced this agreement immediately.
Multiracial elections were finally agreed to in 1980 where Robert Mugabe won a landslide victory. He has been president ever since, though many of the elections have been suspect. In 1980 President Mugabe renamed the country Zimbabwe.
Starting in 2000 squatters started living on white owned farms demanding they get the land that the British took from them, so in 2002 Mugabe ordered all the white farmers to leave their lands without any compensation. In the past Zimbabwe exported food, they were once referred to as the bread basket of Africa and today they can’t even feed their own people or have the money to import food. When Mugabe first took office he was viewed as a great anti-colony leader and today he is viewed consistently as one of the planet’s worst rulers.
Currently in Zimbabwe
The situation has been getting worse since 2000. In the summer of 2008 there was another presidential election where the 84-year-old Mugabe did not win, yet he continues to stay in office. As of late 2008 it seems there has been at least one attempt to assassinate President Mugabe, though there hasn’t been an official statement. Just last weekend there was an attempt to kill the country’s Air Force commander. This is how bad it is now in Zimbabwe.
- Inflation in Zimbabwe is now at 230 million percent. That is hard to comprehend; in the US the inflation rate is bad when it’s at about 9%.
- There is a major food shortage, Zimbabwe once exported food now has to rely on the United Nations for its food. The number of people needing help with food is expected to rise above 5 million, more then half of the remaining 9 million left in the country and today the United Nations announced it will have to cut back on food aid due to lack of funds.
- No medicine and minimal health care. Health care is minimal because the country is short of doctors and nurses and a constant shortage of medicine.
- The life expectancy is the lowest on the planet with men being at 37 years and woman have a life expectancy of 34 years. According to the World Health Organization, a women’s life expectancy has dropped by 2 years in the last 12 months.
- No sanitation system. The water system is almost completely absent in urban areas and burst sewer pipes are left unfixed, filling the streets with sewage.
- The lack of a clean water supply and a decent sanitation system has now caused a major cholera epidemic, which is getting worse since it is the start of the rainy season. The rain then washes the sewage into water wells that people use for drinking and bathing.
- The main hospital of Zimbabwe is in the capital of Harare has stopped admitting new patients due to the lack of staff, drugs and food.
- The four major Zimbabwe universities have closed down because the faculty quit because of the very low wages, now students most likely will not finish their education.
- Many refugees try to cross into South Africa but are turned back or killed trying to cross the Limpopo River, which is the border between the two countries.
Anytime the British or other western countries say anything related to President Mugabe stepping down, Mugabe claims that is it is a rally cry for the British to invade and re-colonize Zimbabwe again.
Right now the only thing going on is talk, talk among western countries and African nations as to what to do. it does not look like much will be done this year.