Zimbabwe was ruled from independence in 1980
until 2017 by Robert Mugabe who, when he took office,
was a celebrated freedom hero but who over the years
turned into a ruthless and powerful leader. By
independence, Zimbabwe was a relatively prosperous
country with productive agriculture and a lot of
industry that was wasted during the coming decades of
neglect. During the 2000s, the country was hit by an
economic collapse and a growing political repression.
Brief profiles of Zimbabwe, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Zimbabwe is located in southern Africa and
lacks coast. On the surface, the country is slightly
smaller than Sweden. The landscape is dominated by the
South African high plateau and consists mainly of
highlands and mountains.
A mountain range, Highveld, runs from southwest to
northeast and reaches just over 1,200 meters above sea
level. On both sides of Highveld, a highland, Middleveld,
spreads between 900 and 1,200 meters in height. At the
far east is a more dramatic mountain landscape with the
country's highest peak, Inyangani, at 2,595 meters above
Several other mountain peaks in the area reach over
800 meters altitude. Lowland, Lowveld, extends around
the large rivers Zambezi in the north, Limpopo in the
south and Sabi-Lundi in the south-east.
Most of Zimbabwe is covered by a tree-rich savanna.
Tropical jungles grow on the hillsides to the east. In
the west towards Botswana there are large swamps.
The climate is subtropical and varies considerably
with the height above the sea. Passage winds from the
Indian Ocean bring rain during the summer, lasting from
November to March. Most precipitation falls during this
The amount of rain varies greatly between different
regions and between different years. In some areas, such
as the Limpopo Basin in the south, almost no rain falls
at all. There, it is not possible to conduct agriculture
on a larger scale. Most of the precipitation falls in
the mountains to the east and northeast.
In April, the dry and windy winter begins with
relatively low temperatures in June and July, when
nighttime frosts can be formed in the mountainous
regions. This is followed by a warm and dry period from
mid-August to November.
390 757 km2 (2018)
Swedish + 1 hour
Adjacent country (s)
Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia
Capital with number of inhabitants
Harare 1,726,000 (2010 estimate)
Other major cities
Bulawayo 749,000, Chitungwiza 357,000, Mutare
185,000, Gweru 142,000 (2010 estimate)
Inyangani (2,595 m asl)
New Vice President
Grace Mugabe's advancement within the party gives birth to rumors that she
plans to become her husband's successor, but those speculations are dampened
when President Mugabe appoints Emmerson Mnangagwa as new vice president after
Mujuru. Mnangagwa which has the nickname "Crocodile" is counted among the more
hardy in the party top. Mnangagwa is considered extremely loyal to the
president. He fought with Mugabe already during the guerrilla war against the
white government and has served in all governments since independence in 1980,
most recently as Minister of Justice.
At the party congress Mugabe is re-elected as party chairman and his wife
Grace becomes chairman of the party's women's association. In his speech before
the Congress, President Mugabe accuses his Vice President Joice Mujuru of
corruption and says she planned to murder him (see also November
above). Mujuru is dismissed as vice president along with eight ministers who are
counted as her allies.
Veteran leader in court
The leader of the country's war veterans is facing trial accused of insulting
the president. The veteran leader said at a meeting that Mugabe and his wife
were planning a bed room coup to get rid of Mujuru and replace her with Grace
The power struggle over who will succeed the 90-year-old Mugabe hardens ahead
of the Zanu-PF Congress party in December. Several veteran politicians are
suspended or excluded from the party. Vice President Joice Mujuru, who was
previously seen as a possible successor to the president, is excluded from the
party leadership. Mujuru's position was undermined during the year by Mugabe's
wife Grace, who accused Mujuru of planning a coup against the president.
The EU announces that the organization's assistance to Zimbabwe will resume.
The aid was frozen in 2002 in response to the regime's harassment and violence
against the opposition (see Modern History). From 2015 to 2020, the EU will
assist Zimbabwe with $ 300 million. The money will be used in health care and
agriculture, among other things. However, the EU retains sanctions against
President Mugabe and his inner circle.
Newspaper editor is prosecuted
The editor of a state-owned newspaper is indicted for engaging in
overthrowing activities and for undermining President Mugabe's position. The
editor was alleged to have, among other things, called Mugabe dictator and
tyrant and claimed that the president cheated on a electoral victory. The
statements would have been made as early as 2008, ie long before the editor
started working on the state-owned newspaper.
Equity law is reformulated
The government announces that it will amend a law that forces foreign
companies to transfer some of their shares to black Zimbabweans. According to
the country's finance minister, the law should be made clearer and more
appetizing for foreign investors.
Foreign companies should be allowed to retain assets
Mugabe is trying to diminish the world's concerns about the law that says
foreign companies should be forced to transfer the majority shareholding to
black Zimbabweans (see June 2007 and March 2010)
when he announces that there is no talk of seizing corporate assets.
Conflict in MDC-T
The battle within the MDC-T escalates when the party's secretary general
Tendai Biti states that the party's national council voted to dismiss Tsvangirai
as party leader. Tsvangirai is accused of negligent leadership and of turning
the party into a tool for its own purposes. Tsvangirai condemns the decision,
claiming that the National Council does not have the powers to dismiss him. He
explains that Biti and eight other people are now excluded from the party.
Tsvangirai and Biti have been close allies for many years, but after the
election loss in July 2013, they came into conflict with each other.
Tsvangirai's critic Elton Mangona (see March above) is
excluded from MDC-T.
President's wife is denied entry visa
President Mugabe announces that he will not attend the EU-Africa meeting to
be held in Brussels in April. The reason is that his wife was denied entry visa
and thus unable to attend. Both Mugabe and his wife are subject to travel bans
within the EU as a result of EU sanctions on Zimbabwe. Mugabe, however, can
travel to Brussels as exceptions can be made to the travel ban for heads of
state to attend international meetings. But genuine halves are not covered by
Official figures show that Zimbabwe is experiencing deflation, ie prices have
fallen by almost half a percent. This is seen by some economists as a warning
signal that the economy is about to deteriorate further.
Senior politician suspended
Elton Mangoma, a highly regarded MDC-T politician, is suspended from the
party when he publicly demanded that Tsvangirai resign as a result of losing the
2013 presidential election against Mugabe. Other prominent party members have
also urged Tsvangirai to step down, but Mangoma is the first to be punished for
expressing this opinion.
President Robert Mugabe celebrates his 90th birthday on February 23 (he will
celebrate his birthday on February 21). He holds a long speech where he plays on
anti-colonial sentiments, but also condemns homosexuals. The big party, with
about 10,000 guests, should have cost about a million dollars.