THE ECON­OMY

DRUM - - News -

Thanks to its fer­tile soil, boom­ing agri­cul­tural sec­tor and wealth of gold, plat­inum and other pre­cious met­als, Zim­babwe was once known as Africa’s bread­bas­ket. But since 1998 when Mu­gabe – fac­ing mount­ing po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion – started los­ing the plot the econ­omy has halved with more than 90% of the pop­u­la­tion now out of work. One ray of hope is that Mnan­gagwa is more open to build­ing bridges with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity than his pre­de­ces­sor was. Pro­fes­sor Brian Raftopou­los (BE­LOW), a veteran po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst who worked at the Univer­sity of Zim­babwe, pre­dicts that the new president will be able to rally for­eign back­ers. “There are so many frus­trated by the sit­u­a­tion in Zim­babwe that they’re likely to ac­cept this ve­neer of con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity just to get things go­ing,” says Raftopou­los, now direc­tor of re­search and ad­vo­cacy at the Sol­i­dar­ity Peace Trust, an NGO based in South Africa. He warns that in the process, elec­toral and demo­cratic re­form and hu­man rights is­sues might be se­ri­ously com­pro­mised. But ei­ther way an eco­nomic re­vival isn’t go­ing to hap­pen overnight. “This de­gen­er­a­tion of the econ­omy has been hap­pen­ing for over three decades so we’re in for a long haul.”

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