Zimbabwe’s Decline

Zimbabwe, a country with one of the world’s least free economies led for decades by the authoritarian Robert Mugabe, has been growing rapidly in recent years. It has outperformed the group of six African countries dubbed the “Lion Kings” because of their high growth. In a Cato paper released today, Craig Richardson explains the factors behind Zimbabwe’s growth, including high commodity prices, and why its performance is unsustainable. 

On Saturday, Zimbabwe voted on a referendum on a proposed constitution. The results should be known later this week, but as Richardson wrote Friday in a Wall Street Journal Europe op-ed, if the constitution is approved as expected, it will enshrine “government land grabs as perfectly legal.” Recall that the country began a period of severe economic and political turmoil precisely when the government began seizing large commercial farms at the beginning of the last decade. Unfortunately, most signs point to further decline for Zimbabwe.