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, but now, it is ranked the poorest.
Vote rigging, the lack of respect for ownership rights, violence, absence of press freedom are some of the reasons that have been cited for the Southern African country’s collapse and ultimate malaise.
The 3rd Annual Africa Wealth Report says, people living in Zimbabwe are the poorest on the continent having on average US$200 each. The amount most public servants are earning.
“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.,” said the report.
Press freedom has also been at the centre of the Zimbabwe crisis.
“The banning of the independent media in the early 2000s, which has 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,” adds the report.
Zimbabwe has however relaxed a number of its restrictive media laws over the past few years. A number of international media houses have representives within the country.
The report surveyed 20 countries – all of them saw a surge in per capita wealth during the period between 2000 and 2015, apart from Zimbabwe.
While Zimbabwe is collapsing the Island country of Mauritius is rising. The country saw the wealthiest individuals in Africa with US$21,700 in wealth per person.
The success of Mauritius has been attributed to secure ownership rights that has seen a large number of wealthy individuals moving there over the past decade.
“Low taxes which encourage business formation and appeal to retirees. Company and personal income tax rates are only 15%, with no inheritance or capital gains tax.”