Government-Led Development Initiatives in Zimbabwe

April 2019

This portfolio explores Zimbabwe’s various efforts to spur development and how those efforts abound with good intentions, some of which are hampered by unintended consequences and constrained by tensions. In each of the initiatives discussed, the government has been primarily concerned with economic development and growth. I begin by providing a foundational analysis of Zimbabwe’s colonial history and Robert Mugabe’s aim to liberate the country; I make this analysis through the lens of Amartya Sen’s and Paulo Freire’s understandings of freedom. Next, I argue that participation in the World Bank’s Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) led to structural violence in Zimbabwe, particularly in the fields of health and education. Furthermore, SAPs caused the reversal of some of the advancements made by Mugabe in the 1980s. Thirdly, I examine Zimbabwe’s Harmonized Social Cash Transfer Program, which has been largely successful and demonstrates that cash transfer programs do not need conditions to produce the desired outcomes. After that, I explore the CAMPFIRE program—aimed at providing an economic incentive for conservation—and the degree to which it has shifted resource management authority and benefits to local communities. Lastly, I review Zimbabwe’s approach to gender and how efforts have focused on women and girls as a strategy for economic development yet have overlooked men and gender relations.