Green Shoots of Hope: Changing Economic Conditions in Zimbabwe

By 2005 Zimbabwe had the fastest shrinking economy in the world and the purchasing power of the average Zimbabweans had fallen to levels last seen for more than a half century. But there appear to be signals of green shoots of recovery and hope for Zimbabweans. Citizens are clambering up from the bottom of the abyss. This is part of the evidence from the latest Afrobarometer survey conducted in May 2009, three months after the formation of a coalition government in February 2009. The findings show the impact of economic reforms introduced by the inclusive government which appear to have altered the economic conditions of the country and the personal living circumstances of its citizens. Read this bulletin for results from the survey.


Government Committed to Priorities – SA Budget

SA Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivered the South African medium term budget statement on 27th October. Government priorities remain social spending, infrastructural expansion and job creation. See Idasa’s comment in the video and statement below.

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African Governance – Ibrahim Index

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance is a comprehensive ranking of sub-Saharan African nations according to governance quality. The criteria for assessment capture the quality of services provided to citizens by governments and focus on the results that the people of a country experience.

The criteria are divided into five over-arching categories which together make up the cornerstones of a government’s obligations to its citizens:

•Safety and Security
•Rule of Law, Transparency and Corruption
•Participation and Human Rights
•Sustainable Economic Opportunity
•Human Development

See more and downloadable country reports here.

SA and US Economic Relations


President Jacob Zuma ’s administration could significantly increase economic growth if it carefully spelt out the objectives of its economic relations with the US, says Witney Schneidman*, who advised Barack Obama’s presidential campaign on African affairs.

He was at the University of Pretoria yesterday, where he delivered a lecture in memory of the late US senator Edward Kennedy, who had a particular concern for SA.

Schneidman said SA was important to the Obama administration, but was trailing Angola when it came “to a game plan”.

“From the moment (US) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Angola to the time she flew out of Lusaka during her recent African Safari, they (Angolans) tabled their strategic document, which outlined goals and objectives about the two countries’ future relations.”

Schneidman, who was also deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa in the Bill Clinton administration, told Business Day yesterday the Obama administration wanted relations with SA that would advance the continent and the world on issues of climate change, alternative energy, agriculture development and capacity building for the continent’s institutions of democracy.

On Zimbabwe, he said the US would play a bigger role in a bid to help both SA and the Southern African Development Community resolve the political impasse.


* Witney Schneidman is a member of Idasa’s board in the USA

SA Needs Pragmatism and Reassurance – Pre-State of the Nation

A month has passed since the April 22 election. The South African economy has entered its first official recession since the early 1990s. With a contraction of 6.4 percent in gross domestic product (GDP) in the last quarter and zero percent growth forecast for the second quarter of this year, all indications are that the worst of this recession is yet to come. The country needs a dose of pragmatism, reassurance and solutions.

 During the Mbeki years, characterised by stable but unequal growth and a booming global commodities market that meant relative economic stability, the State of the Nation addresses were increasingly mechanical and predictable. Mbeki was not afraid to court controversy and used this platform to espouse his Two Nations thesis, which later developed into a Two Economies analysis. However, criticism of his addresses focussed more on the deafening silences on critical issues, most notably, HIV/AIDS and Zimbabwe.

Jacob Zuma and the ANC ran a strong election campaign, focussing on an agenda of socio-economic transformation. The campaign slogan of Together, we can do more holds an implicit admission that the ruling-party has not delivered enough on its previous goal of a Better life for all, and it is this theme which is likely to take centre stage at Zuma’s State of the Nation address. Given recent public protests at poor service delivery and continued threats of public service strikes within the municipal and health sectors, Jacob Zuma will need to Zuma engage with citizens on these issues and demonstrate strong leadership and will on behalf of the new government to deal balance various competing interests.  Zuma’s address will thus come in for keen scrutiny from the opposition benches and more importantly, he will experience increasing pressure by extra-parliamentary formations such as the ANC’s Alliance partners. The alliance partners will be looking to Zuma for the quid pro quo for their election support and citizens will be looking to him for direction during difficult economic times. In addition, business will want to see continuity in the midst of change. So, Zuma will have to navigate tricky waters if he is going to satisfy the high expectations of a variety of divergent stakeholders.       Continue reading

Afrobarometer – Democracy in Africa

Read the latest releases from Afrobarometer on the following topics:

The Evolution of African Political Regimes in the last 10 years; Poverty Reduction, Economic Growth and Democratisation in Southern Africa; African Media and Telecommunications; and Citizens and Democratisation.

See these releases here.

Zuma and his cabinet

-By Judith February – South Africans’ capacity for magnanimity has been well-displayed these past weeks. Jacob Zuma is our President. Despite the cloud of corruption which will continue to hang over his head despite occupying the highest office, we, the people, have a responsibility not only to demand accountability but to put our shoulders to the wheel. In Zapiro-speak, the shower-head has been suspended. Temporarily. Continue reading