What next for Zimbabwe?

27 November 2017

The dramatic events in Zimbabwe over the last couple of weeks have seen the Mugabe era come to an end and a new President sworn in.  What this will really mean for the future of Zimbabwe is still to be determined. However two issues that could be central to the country’s political and economic future, as highlighted recently by IDS researchers, are the role of land reforms and the role of China.

A man holds a placard featuring Emmerson D. Mnangagwa, as people gathered in the city centre to celebrate what they hoped was soon to be the end of Robert Mugabe's 37 year rule.

Land reform

In his latest blog ‘The path to prosperity starts with land reform, says the Economist’ IDS Research Fellow Ian Scoones discusses the opinions on the outlook for economic growth in Zimbabwe and the role that restructuring of agriculture through land reform has played in economic growth in Asia compared to Africa and Latin America.

Ian Scoones says: “With the euphoria of change, and in the presence of no doubt much international interest in Zimbabwe, we should not forget the basic argument that land reform can bring prosperity, and the failure to undertake radical land reform can bring many costs, in both the short and long-term. Zimbabwe now has the opportunity to make the most of its land reform.”

China

The role of China in Africa - particularly in Zimbabwe - is long established, with significant Chinese investments in Zimbabwe’s infrastructure.  China is Zimbabwe’s largest investor and top trading partner, although in recent years some of the larger infrastructure projects have been put on hold due to poor economic situation.  Jing Gu, IDS Research Fellow and Director of the IDS Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development  thinks the removal of Robert Mugabe will be seen as a positive move by Beijing. 

Jing Gu says: “China is the most important player in Zimbabwe. The bi-lateral trade between China and Zimbabwe grew to 1.3bn US dollars in 2013.

“A peaceful transition of power will be seen as a positive sign and Chinese investors will be optimistic for the long-term future in Zimbabwe.”

The developments in Zimbabwe will be closely followed and longer-term it will be seen in the context of the wider relationship China has with Africa, and how the wider China-Africa-UK development cooperation progresses. 

Listen to media coverage

Listen to Jing Gu discuss on this topic on the BBC World Service Newshour programme (from 14mins 05) and on BBC Newsnight (from 28mins 30)

Photo: Zimbabwe Harare. A man holds a placard featuring Emmerson D. Mnangagwa, as people gathered in the city centre to celebrate what they hoped was soon to be the end of Robert Mugabe's 37 year rule.

Credit: Chris de Bode / Panos