File: Then Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe looks on during his inauguration and swearing-in ceremony at the 60,000-seater sports stadium in Harare.
HARARE – Data on health, economics, corruption, press freedom and migration reveal much about Robert Mugabe‘s 37-year rule.
He died aged 95 in Singapore on September 6, nearly two years after he was ousted by the military in 2017.
On Thursday, the government announced he would be buried in his home village — the latest in a long-running saga over his final resting place.
After Mugabe came to power in 1980, life expectancy in Zimbabwe rose slightly to 60.8 years in 1986, according to the World Bank.
It then crashed to just 44.1 years by 2002. In 2006, the World Health Organization put it even lower at 34 years for women and 37 for men – the worst figures worldwide.
The major causes: AIDS, the collapse of healthcare and falling standards of living as the country’s economy crumbled.
Life expectancy has now risen to 61.4 years according to WHO, largely due to international aid funding.
Erratic GDP growth and decline has exposed Zimbabwe’s torrid economic woes… and its potential.
The HIV infection rate climbed sharply to a peak in 1997 at 27-percent of all 15 to 49-year-olds.
With a massive, foreign-funded treatment programme, it fell to 13.3-percent in 2017.
Last year Zimbabwe still had one of the highest HIV prevalences in sub-Saharan Africa, with 1.3 million people living with HIV.
But nearly every pregnant woman now has access to anti retroviral medicines, according to avert.org
Zimbabwe has consistently been ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, rated at 160th out of 180 last year.
Transparency International said that the problems range from “petty, bureaucratic and political corruption to grand forms of corruption involving high-level officials.”
It also highlighted “the deeply entrenched system of political patronage, the tight grip of the ruling party over the security forces, and the history of political violence, repression and manipulation.”
Zimbabwe is one of the least open countries for press freedom in the world. In 2002 it was ranked 122nd out of 139, and in 2019 127th out of 180.
Reporters Without Borders said that the government controls the two main newspapers, and all radio and television. Journalists must be accredited and foreign correspondents have been arrested and deported.
Figures are hard to pin down, but the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said about three million Zimbabweans are believed to live abroad.
Many of them fled due the economic crisis, heading to South Africa, Botswana, the Middle East, the United States, Britain and Australia.
“Emigration, particularly after 2000, contributed significantly to brain drain especially in the health and education sectors,” IOM said.
“Zimbabwe was left incapacitated in terms of service delivery.”