The night before heading into Zimbabwe, we discussed the tribulations that the country has faced since Independence. As a reference point, here’s a rough timeline of Zimbabwe’s very recent history:
1965: Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe before it became Zimbabwe) gained independence from the British colony
1966: Rhodesian Bush War, or the Zimbabwe War of Liberation, erupted and lasted until 1979
1980: Zimbabwe gains its independence and changes its name from Southern Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, with Mugabe as Prime Minister
1982: Western Zimbabwe gets slaughtered for supporting Mugabe’s opposition, and continues until 1990
1988: Mugabe becomes Head of Government
1990: Mugabe swept into power without opposition
1997: Those who fought in the War of Liberation demanded on being compensated for their fighting
1999: First strong opposition party formed
2000: Opposition party earned 58 of the 100 seats
2002: Presidential elections held and Mugabe wins by over 400,000 votes. This was disputed by opposition which led to an internal investigation. [The report actually came out in the middle of my Africa trip, proving that the election was rigged. It took 12 years.]
2005: Government decided to destroy all of the illegal structures in Zimbabwe, which didn’t go down well with the international community; town consulate needed approval before building structures
2008: Presidential elections. Tsvangirai claimed to have won the majority against Mugabe. There was a call for a re-run of the elections, but there were many killings and tortures, so Tsvangirai (the opposition) pulled out, making it a one-man race. [Last year Tsvangirai lost by over a million votes. Before he ran, he was told not to run because the elections had already been rigged.]
2015: Mugabe is still the acting President of Zimbabwe
Economically, when Zimbabwe gained Independence, the Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWD) was stronger than the USD (2 to 1). Over the years, it lost value and in 1997 it was 1 USD to 5 ZWD before it began crumbling after the war veterans demanded to be compensated and were given equilateral of 120,000 ZWD each. By 2008, the inflation was at 11 million, 200,000%. By 2009, the exchange rate was 1 USD to 23 trillion ZWD. That year, Zimbabwe allowed the use of multi-currencies with the US D being the most accepted currency, followed by the South African Rand. While Zimbabwe once used to be called the “Bread Basket of Africa,” it is now called the “Begging Basket of Africa.”
Going off this, health care in Zimbabwe is currently in crisis.
In the mid-1990s, 25% of the population were infected with HIV. Since then, Zimbabwe implemented an education system on HIV/AIDS and it is the only money source that hasn’t been abused or corrupted. Today, AIDS prevalence is down to 9%. The WHO said that Zimbabwe is #1 on using condoms.
In 2008, over 3,500 people alone were killed from Cholera
Today, getting medication is still a problem in public hospitals. If you have the money though, medication is readily available in the private hospitals.