Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Nyaradzo Mashayamombe discusses her work as an advocate for women’s and girls’ rights in Zimbabwe and the way women are viewed in society is changing in that country. Mashayamombe talks about the hardships she experienced as a child in rural Zimbabwe and how they drove her to help other girls and women. She also discusses the empowering impact of social media and the current economic situation for women in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean economist Daniel Ndlela shares his thoughts on economic recovery as part of a conference hosted by the Southern Africa Political Economy Series Trust and the National Endowment for Democracy in May 2014. The conference, entitled “Zimbabwe Going Forward” featured Zimbabwean think tanks, private sector representatives, government and civil society. (l-r: Kupukile Mlambo, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Ndlela, and Abdulwahab Alkebsi, Regional Director for Africa, the Center for International Private Enterprise).
While 50 African heads of state prepared to visit Washington for the U.S.-Africa summit held earlier this month, one president who wasn’t invited decided to throw a party of his own. In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe invited dignitaries and government officials to the State House on July 31 to mark the one year anniversary of his party’s victory over the opposition in national elections whose legitimacy was questioned by domestic and foreign observers alike.
The 90-year-old Mugabe, restricted from entering the United States due to targeted travel and financial sanctions, welcomed government friends to his official residence in Harare with a banquet and live music. Unfortunately, given Zimbabwe’s economic outlook, throwing a party is the last thing the President should be doing.
Those were the words of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai referring to a recent visit to Harare by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The leader came to Zimbabwe last week to discuss trade and cooperation agreements with President Robert Mugabe, who himself has been a target of international sanctions.
Despite being thousands of miles from each other, the two countries share similar political and economic challenges that can be addressed through similar approaches. In the wake of the unrest following presidential elections in each country, civil society has operated under tighter control with limited political space to promote constitutional reform and hold government accountable for achieving economic and social priorities.
Here is another one in a series of stories that BBC continues to publish highlighting the plight of people in Zimbabwe. This one is on teachers left to make their own living in the informal sector by all means possible and the overall collapse of the education system. If this keeps up, I wonder how low even the basic education levels will get, already in freefall since the mid 1990s.
Zimbabwe continues to be the case study for how political mismanagement can turn into an economic disaster which leads to a social collapse. The greater problem – is that Mugabe seems to be in denial about the true state of things. With all the “odd news” quotes he’s produced – these days I wonder if Mugabe himself believes what Mugabe says.
But I guess there are still groups interested in keeping him in power by all means possible.
Zimbabwe’s economy suffers from ever-escalating inflation levels, price distortions for key commodities and utilities, high unemployment rates, rising poverty levels, foreign exchange and commodity product shortages, deteriorating public services, rising inequalities, and large income disparities. This harsh economic reality is crowding out young people’s ambitions of career and entrepreneurial development.
In this Feature Service article, Roselyn Sekai Kapungu, 3rd place winner in CIPE’s 2007 Youth Essay Contest, talks about the destructive effects that this acute economic crisis has had on Zimbabwe’s education system and opportunities for the country’s youth. Education is conventionally thought to bring private benefits through increased earnings. But education brings greater social benefits as well through creating a skilled workforce capable of propelling economic growth and development. Without that engine of growth, Zimbabwe’s economy will continue to suffer.
Kapungu asks, “The question is, do we lose hope in education and flee? If the answer is no, we need to come up with strategies that reward educational attainment and reduce poverty by promoting economic growth and job creation. Together with those policies, the key issues of equal access to education for boys and girls, improved graduation rates, better access to higher education, and enhanced life skills development need more attention.”
Article at a Glance
- Poverty and economic hardship can either mobilize people to fight for quality education and a better future, or drive them away from education. The latter is disastrous to society in the long run, but it is the path many people in Zimbabwe have taken in recent years.
- The education system in Zimbabwe has long suffered from an insufficient focus on teaching practical skills, limited access to higher education opportunities, and unequal access for girls to specialized fields such as science.
- Successful educational reform is a necessary step to create the basis for sustained economic growth and requires the involvement of all stakeholders, ranging from families and civil society to national and local governments as well as the private sector.
If you wonder how democracy was stolen in Zimbabwe and have 10 minutes to spare, you absolutely must watch this clip produced by the Guardian.
Sadly, the roundup of foreign journalists continues in Zimbabwe as Mugabe does everything in his power to control the media and force his will on the Zimbabwean people in the wake of losing the presidential election. Hidden in a story about the arrest of a New York Times journalist I found a startling detail that highlights the sad state of things:
Mr. Bearak’s passport was confiscated, and he was required to put up 300 million Zimbabwe dollars as bail, about $10,000 at official exchange rates but only about $7 at black market rates.
It is hard for some of us to imagine living in such an upside-down world where inflation is so high that paying $7 in bail is even possible. It borders on the absurd that there could be so large a difference between the nominal and real value of a currency. Surely to those following events in Zimbabwe for the past couple of years, this comes as no surprise as inflation has been spiraling out of control for some time. It is just one more sad anecdote from a country that is teetering on economic and political collapse.