How did the economy in Zimbabwe develop?
In 1980 the former Rhodesia became independent as Zimbabwe and the economy developed very well at the beginning of independence. The numbers grew particularly in the areas of agriculture, mining and tourism. Corn, soy and tobacco thrive on Zimbabwe’s fertile soils, as do cotton and peanuts.
But when there was a land reform in 2000 and the land was taken away from the mostly white farmers in order to hand it over to the local population, agriculture in particular ran into great difficulties. So the fields lay fallow and the farmers harvested less and less. The idea of giving the people of Zimbabwe their own land was well meant. The government planned to eliminate the negative consequences of colonialism and also to distribute the land more fairly, but in the end almost nobody got anything out of it.
From the “breadbasket of Africa” to a poor country
The new farmers did not have the knowledge of the old farmers who had successfully tilled the land for years. The “former granary of Africa”, as Zimbabwe was also called, developed into a country that had to import food in order for its population to survive. If Zimbabwe previously supplied itself and the neighboring countries as well, the country now had to import hundreds of thousands of tons of food in order for the population to survive.
Many of the new farmers concentrated primarily on tobacco cultivation as it was very productive. But you can’t eat tobacco and so more tobacco and less food was produced. There have also been major setbacks in mining, although the country has a great deal of natural resources.
Almost three quarters of the people in Zimbabwe live below the poverty line. Many residents want to go abroad to find work there. Many former farm workers had lost their jobs as a result of the expropriation of white farmers. Only some could take over the farms themselves. Many Zimbabweans have now emigrated to South Africa or other countries. The unemployment rate is very high in Zimbabwe. The economic situation continued to deteriorate.
Change of currency
A certain recovery only occurred when the national currency – the Zimbabwean dollar – was exchanged for US dollars, the South African rand and British pounds in 2009 and thus also paid. This got the economy going again. In 2015 the Zimbabwean dollar was abolished entirely.
Unfortunately, only the big companies benefited from money exchange. The smaller ones are still fighting for survival and because of the uncertain situation nobody wants to invest money in Zimbabwe. You don’t know exactly how politics will develop and so the Zimbabweans are left alone with their problems. Many banks in the country cannot lend money to companies because they do not have one themselves.
Why is China interested in Zimbabwe?
China is now very interested in Zimbabwe. Why this? Zimbabwe has the second largest platinum deposits in the world. China is also an important customer for tobacco. In return, China is supplying Zimbabwe with machines for agriculture, with weapons and also provides loans.
Eating in Zimbabwe
A porridge called Sadza
As in most African countries, there is a very typical dish in Zimbabwe. It is called Sadza in the language of the Shona. The Ndebele call it Isitshwala. In any case, it is a porridge made from cornmeal and which many Zimbabweans eat as their staple food. There can be a variety of dishes. In addition to vegetables and meat, fish, yoghurt or mopane caterpillars also taste good with Sadza. In Namibia this maize porridge is called Pap and in Malawi and Zambia it is called Nsima. For more articles on Zimbabwe and Africa, please visit a2zgov.
Right hand and left hand: a difference in Africa!
By the way, Africans like to eat this porridge with their hands. If you use your hands, then only your right, because using your left hand is not hygienic. Hands are washed before eating.
The Zimbabweans take some of the pulp and form a small ball with a hole pressed in the middle. This hole takes on the function of a spoon and you then eat the vegetables often served with the sadza in a stew. Zimbabweans like to offer this vegetable stew with meat on festive days. This is mostly poultry or pork.
Vegetables for personal use
Unfortunately, agriculture in Zimbabwe is no longer as diverse as it was a few years ago. The residents still grow vegetables for their own use, but they have to import a lot from abroad. That is often too expensive for poor people.
The food has to fill people first and foremost in order for them to survive. There are also fruits, but these are intended for export and are less likely to be served by the residents.
And what else do Zimbabweans like?
For breakfast there is often a porridge, the bota. Like Sadza, it is stirred from corn flour, but it is thinner and is often sweetened with peanut butter or jam. Sadza is there for lunch and dinner. The custom of drinking tea in the afternoon dates back to the British.
Biltong is also popular. These are salted and dried strips of meat. Most of the meat comes from beef or game. Rice, noodles and potatoes in the form of fries are also on the table in Zimbabwe.