Back to School Blues: Zimbabwe gets the Dunce’s Cap

By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
Flickr_Andrew_XIRecently, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation published its extremely comprehensive rankings of African governance providing a pretty interesting insight. On their web site, the Foundation indicates that it compiles its measure of ‘effective delivery of public goods and services to citizens’ from no less that 86 indicators and from 23 data providers. Saliently, Zimbabwe is not doing too well. Out of the 53 African countries surveyed, Zimbabwe ranks 51st. That is shocking, though not surprising.

The categorisation of governance into four principal areas and Zimbabwe’s ranking therein must surely be a cause for concern. Principally Zimbabwe ranks second last in the category “Sustainable Economic Opportunity”. This surely cannot be too proud a moment for Zimbabwe’s leadership, beating only Somalia (score of 3.6/100 versus Zimbabwe 24.5) as the worst country in Africa within the category. The sorriest sub-category is apparently Zimbabwe’s business environment – ranked 52nd (scoring a mere 9.3 %) – perhaps a true reflection of government’s racist and xenophobic policies angled towards indigenisation. With a per capita GDP of just US$131, one may guess, one should not expect more.

In the category “Safety and Rule of Law”, Zimbabwe steps up to 51st place with a score of only 28.2%, whipping the two bad boys in the class, Sudan (21.0%) and rotten Somalia with 4.8%. Not surprisingly within the category Zimbabwe ranked poorly with respect to Accountability, but also a very low score for “Personal Safety”. That latter score needs to be opened up a bit, since for all intense and purpose Zimbabwe is a peaceful country, except when it seemingly spills blood in election campaigning mode. The nation has not had elections recently, but reported incidents of party political violence continue to sully the record.


The nation is ranked 47th in the category “Participation and Human Rights” and 42nd in “Human Development”. It is not all bad, Zimbabwe did not do too poorly with a sub-category labelled “Infrastructure”, but then we know Zimbabwe inherited one of the best structured nations in Africa, probably only second to South Africa at the time, from its Rhodesian or perhaps colonial benefactors. Zimbabwe ranked 15th for Infrastructure. Encouragingly, Zimbabwe ranked 24th in Africa for Education. Top scores in the survey, for Zimbabwe, were in the categories Health (56/100) and National Security 55%. Those are the only two subjects passed!

Zimbabwe’s overall score card is a sad 31 percent, which in most of our books is a failure, it is well below the African and the regional Southern African averages, and has been for the last few years. Clearly, it is back to school for Zimbabwe. The nation should not object to wearing the dunce’s cap and standing in the corner, but the fact is there is no headmaster nor wicked teacher to punish not so sparingly with the rod.

Political self criticism is just too suicidal in Africa, no politician can do wrong, so it will be up to the people to bring about change. The problem is that the people don’t see these indicators as a measure of success or failure, it is they who are getting the stick from those who should be sanctioned for this abysmally poor performance. Does anyone care?
Mo Ibrahim Foundation –

Visit Andrew’s Simply Wild Photography photo blog… you will not regret doing so!


8 thoughts on “Back to School Blues: Zimbabwe gets the Dunce’s Cap

  1. It’s an absolute travesty that the Jewel of Africa, Rhodesia, was destroyed in just over three decades of majority rule (sic) by greedy rulers and their hangers on !!!!

  2. Interesting stuff Andrew. I don’t think anyone can accuse the Mo Ibrahim foundation of being racist, imperialist or anything other than real-ist. I think the bottom line, as you suggest is that it is going to take a clean sweep of the ageing dictator’s cohorts, a complete remodelling of the political geography, before Zimbabwe’s material and human assets have any chance of realising their potential. Very interesting that Zim gets a pass for security. I have been reading a 2009 report on security sector reform in Zim. The suggestion is that, like Zimbabwe’s economic infrasturcture, if the outside world can get in soon enough, the damage will not have been irreparable. Good luck.

  3. Most interesting given that in 1979 -81 the country fed Zambia, Malawi, Mocabique and particularly Botswana and Namibia all of who were suffering with major food shortages. To be only one step above Somalia is a travesty of just about anything one wants to name.

    At what point does one recognise that Zimbabwe has passed the point of no return and recovery will take all of the 100 years it took to get to its peak the first time?

  4. As a proud ex-Rhodesian I would like to be able to be proud to say I am also an ex-Zimbabwean. Though the country of my birth is peerless in its beauty and potential, I can’t be proud of it until it begins to live up to its potential. Ghadaffi is gone. Let’s hope Robert Mugabe is next on the list of defunct and deceased African dictators.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s