Robert Mugabe: Zimbabwe second-most developed country in Africa

Robert Mugabe, 93, has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980
Robert Mugabe, 93, has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980

Zimbabwe is the most highly developed country in Africa after South Africa, President Robert Mugabe has said.

He denied that the country was a fragile state.

“We have over 14 universities and our literacy rate is over 90 [%] – the highest in Africa,” he said, adding that the economy was improving.

Zimbabwe has been struggling to pay its civil servants recently and is ranked 24th on the UNDP’s Human Development Index for Africa.

graph showing UN Human development report for Africa

“We have more resources, perhaps more than the average country in the world.” Mr Mugabe said, during a panel discussion on fragile states at the World Economic Forum on Africa in South Africa’s costal city of Durban.

“We have a bumper harvest, maize, tobacco, and other crops. We are not a poor country,” Mr Mugabe added, while acknowledging that Zimbabwe had problems.

Last year, more than four million people were in need of food aid in Zimbabwe after rains failed. The country was once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa.

The opposition accuses Mr Mugabe, who has ruled since independence in 1980, of ruining the economy.

Zimbabwe has faced a severe cash shortage since last year and has introduced so-called bond notes as a substitute for the US dollar, the main currency people use.

Hyperinflation forced the government to abandon the Zimbabwean dollar in 2009.

After Mr Mugabe came to power in 1980, he was widely praised for improving access to education in the country and in the 1990s, it did have among the highest literacy rates in Africa.

However, schools have also been affected by the country’s economic problems and rates have now dropped back.

African countries with highest adult literacy rates
Rank Country Literacy rate
1 Seychelles 95.3%
2 Equatorial Guinea 95.2%
3 South Africa 94.6%
4 Sao Tome and Principe 91.7%
5 Libya 91.4%
6 Namibia 90.8%
7 Mauritius 90.6%
8 Cape Verde 88.5%
9 Botswana 88.2%
10 Swaziland 87.5%
11 Zimbabwe 86.9%
Source: World Bank (2015)


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