By Nkosana Dlamini
ZIMBABWEANS have been found to be the poorest citizens in Africa in a report that features a damning account of former President Robert Mugabe’s disastrous rule.
According to the AfrAsia Bank Africa Wealth report 2017 which estimates the average wealth held by individual Africans in terms of net assets, Zimbabweans ended 2016 on a just US$200 per person, a far-cry from Mauritius which is home to the wealthiest individuals on the continent.
“As reflected, Mauritians are the wealthiest individuals in Africa with an average wealth of US$25,700 per person, whilst people in living in Zimbabwe are the poorest with US$200 per person,” reads the report.
The extensive research covered wealth, luxury, prime property, collectable and wealth management trends on the continent.
The report further places neighbours South Africa number 2 with citizens’ wealth averaging $11,300 in 2016 (up from $10,800 in 2015).
Namibia is third with citizens on $11,300 per person, up from $10,800 a year before while Botswana surged from $6,300 wealth per individual citizens to the current $6,700.
Zimbabweans were on $200 wealth per citizen before and remain on the same mark as per latest rankings.
Mugabe’s disastrous policies
The report spotlights Mugabe’s disastrous policies and dictatorial rule which ended with a military coup November last year.
“Notably, back in 2000,” says the report, “Zimbabwe was one of the wealthiest countries in Sub Saharan Africa on a wealth per capita basis, ranked ahead of the likes of Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Zambia and Ghana. However, now it is ranked well behind these countries.
“Contributing factors to Zimbabwe’s poor performance since 2000 include; the erosion of ownership rights in the country. Ownership rights are key to facilitating wealth creation.
“In Zimbabwe, business owners are unsure as to whether their businesses or property will still belong to them a year down the line, which creates a situation where no one will take the chance of investing in the country.
“Ongoing political intimidation and the alleged fixing of elections in 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2013.”
The report further says the banning of the independent media in the early 2000s “created a situation where it is impossible for investors to tell what is happening there”.
“Foreign journalists are also not allowed inside Zimbabwe. The only TV footage that comes out of Zimbabwe comes from state-owned TV stations.
“Around 20% of Zimbabweans have fled the country since 2000, taking their remaining wealth with them. This has also led to a brain drain.”
The report makes no mention of western imposed sanctions which the Mugabe regime persistently singled out for the country’s economic crisis.
Mugabe was ousted last November with the military accusing him of a slew of crimes of both commissions and omissions.
These include failure to manage the economy with the military saying this placed the country on the brink of a full blown civil rebellion which could plunge the country into instability.
Current President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reversed some of Mugabe’s controversial policies and pledged to restore the country back to economic glory.