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Struggling Zimbabwe's monster challenges

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - 02:26

Zimbabwe's economy has been in the doldrums for years and a new IMF report says it's at a crossroads. Sonia Legg looks at problems it faces and the chances of a change of leadership any time soon.

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Every morning Darlington Chikwesherere tends his vegetable patch on the outskirts of Harare. But it's not a hobby - it's his main source of income. Like millions in Zimbabwe, Darlington is unemployed. (SOUNDBITE) (Shona) DARLINGTON CHIKWESHERERE, HARARE RESIDENT SAYING: "Most of the small jobs I get are gardening, and I get very little money from that, as little as 20 US dollars. It's not enough to buy everything we need." Zimbabwe's economy has been in a tailspin for more than a decade due to plummeting farming output and hyperinflation. It bounced back for three years after the government dropped its own currency and adopted the dollar. But it has since stagnated as companies have failed to find the cash to grow. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARGRET MANYUNYU, HARARE RESIDENT SAYING: "It is really tough, I can't even... I am not employed. I can't even afford to pay my rent bills, my electricity bills." A new IMF report says Zimbabwe is at a crossroads. It owes domestic and foreign creditors 10 billion dollars. But a controversial law limiting foreign ownership has put off international investors. Economics analyst John Robertson says only one in fifteen people now has a job. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN ROBERTSON, ECONOMIC ANALYST SAYING: "If you want a job in Zimbabwe these days you got to leave the country, to find it in another country, and that's the effects of lack of investment, and this has been imposed on the country by political decisions, which has damaged confidence." Zimbabwe's 90-year-old president introduced the law to empower black Zimbabweans. But many blame Robert Mugabe for turning what was once the bread basket of Africa into an economic basket case. His age and rumours of ill health have raised the prospect of a new dawn. But infighting among the main opposition group and the ruling Zanu-PF party is worrying many. Mugabe's first lady has also emerged as a potential successor, says political analyst Piers Pigou. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PIERS PIGOU, POLITICAL ANALYST ICG SAYING: "Some analysts are suggesting she may be some kind of Frankenstein monster that has gone out of control. Certainly from my perspective it would be a worrying sign and a reflection of further challenges if Grace Mugabe was to be elevated to the position of president." Even brave foreign investors may find that prospect hard to stomach. And the last thing Zimbabwe needs now is to be ostracised by the west for any longer.

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Struggling Zimbabwe's monster challenges

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - 02:26