ZIMBABWEAN citizens are the poorest in Africa, a 2017 report by AfrAsia Bank Africa Wealth has revealed.
The report, an indictment of ex-President Robert Mugabe’s poor leadership, says locals own an average US$200 per person, something that is in stark contrast with Mauritanians whose wealth averages US$25,700 per person.
“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 2017 report, which accounts for the period 2016.
Neighbours South Africa, placed number two, have citizens each sitting on $11,300 wealth, Namibia $11,300 per person and Botswana on $6,300.
Mugabe, as President, rolled out a disastrous land reform programme at the turn of the century.
Although hailed by some as a step towards empowering the black poor, the chaotic programme is also blamed for eroding the country’s massive agro-based wealth.
The ousted leader’s tough empowerment laws and disregard for the rule of law is also blamed for the flight of foreign capital, something that has decimated the country’s once thriving industry.
The report also blames Zimbabwe’s poor rating in terms of individuals’ wealth to continued poll fraud by the ex-leader.
“Notably, back in 2000 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,” says the report, which came off an extensive research covering wealth, luxury, prime property, collectable and wealth management trends on the continent.
“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.”
The report continues, “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.”