TIMELINE: The economic meltdown of Zimbabwe

By Kabelo Khumalo Time of article published Nov 15, 2017

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JOHANNESBURG - The impending demise of Zimbabwe mainstay president, Robert Mugabe has been largely on the back of economic hardship that has faced the country for more than a decade. By the year 2008 unemployment in Zimbabwe had risen to 94 percent.

Business Report spotted President of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, at the Da Vinci hotel in Sandton, however, declined to comment on the situation in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai was seen as one of Mugabe's fiercest rivals in Zimbabwe. 

Below is a chronological timeline of events that have led to the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe, a country that was once distinguished as the bread basket of Southern Africa.

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1998 - An economic crisis predicated by high-interest rates and inspired riots to give rise to the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), later to be headed by Morgan Tsvangirai.
1990 - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank suspend aid to the country after they differed with the government’s policies.
2000 - Supporters of the Mugabe regime invade and seize white-owned commercial farms, arguing the land was illegally taken by white settlers.
2001 - The country experiences food shortages that analysts and economic commentators blame on farm seizures, but the government blamed it on drought.  In the same weekend, several western governments withdraw economic aid over rights abuses by the government and Mugabe’s land policy.

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2002 - The Commonwealth suspends Zimbabwe, while the collapse of commercial agriculture and poor weather add to serious food shortages, leaving millions of Zimbabweans in need of emergency food aid.

2003 – Thousands of companies are forced to shut down due to the economic meltdown and rising inflation.

2004 - The IMF begins a process to expel Zimbabwe from the fund over dues unpaid since three years earlier.

2006 – In an unprecedented move, Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rises above 1,000 percent in April of that year. Re-denominated notes are issued in August.

2008 - Government implements price freeze in June, followed two months later by wage freeze.

2009 - A combination of the abandonment of the Zimbabwe dollar and a government of national unity in 2009 resulted in a period of positive economic growth for the first time in a decade.

2016 - In September the finance minister identified "low levels of production and the attendant trade gap, insignificant foreign direct investment and lack of access to international finance due to huge arrears" as significant causes for the poor performance of the economy.

In the same year, the government decided that in order to alleviate cash shortages, the government introduced bond notes in November 2016 pegged at par to the US dollar.

2017 - Yesterday (14 November 2017), the world watched on in shock as the military moved in to remove President Robert Mugabe from power. 

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