All About Zimbabwe

Capital City Zimbabwe’s capital city is Harare. Harare was known as Salisbury before the country attained Independence in 1980. Other Cities and Towns Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare are some of the country’s major cities. Smaller towns include: Kwekwe, Chinhoyi, Chiredzi, Kadoma, Chegutu, Rusape, Marondera, Victoria Falls, Gwanda, Lupane and Hwange. Population Zimbabwe’s estimated population is 13.72 million with an annual growth rate of about 3.5%. Zimbabweans are renowned for their hospitality. scription
English is the official medium of communication. More than eight other languages are spoken around the country, with Shona and Ndebele being used more widely. Other national minority languages include Kalanga, Nambya, Shangani, Tonga and Venda. Zimbabwe's population stands at approximately 13 million with an annual growth rate of 3.5%. By Far the biggest percentage of the people belongs to the Shona groups who inhabit the north and east, followed by the Ndebele who mainly live in the south-west of the country. Other minority groups include the Batonga, people of the Zambezi valley who were re-settled when part of the valley was flooded to form the Lake Kariba and the Venda along the south-western borders. English is the official language of Zimbabwe. Of the two main Bantu Speaking groups 60% speak Shona and 40% Ndebele.
Zimbabwe is located on a high plateau in south central Africa between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers. The country is landlocked and shares borders with five countries: Zambia to the north and north west, South Africa to the south, Mozambique to the east and north east, Botswana to the west and south west, as well as with Namibia on the Caprivi Strip. It's northern border with Zambia is formed by the Zambezi, Africa's fourth largest river after the Nile, the Congo and the Niger Zimbabwe’s surface area is 390 757 square kilometres. Physically, the country is divided by a high central plateau, known as the highveld. Most of this predominantly fertile plateau is 2000 metres above sea level and consists of mopane and msasa savanna woodlands. The most noteworthy mountainous region is the Eastern Highlands which run for nearly more than 100 km along the border with Mozambique comprising Nyanaga, the Vumba and the Chimanimani Mountains at its southern end. The underlying granite, exposed by millions of years of erosion, is seen in its most dramatic form in the Matobo hills, south of Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe generally enjoys warm weather all-year round. Temperatures recorded in the country normally range between 5 and 39 degrees Celsius. Low temperatures are experienced between April and July. The Eastern Highlands generally experience lower temperatures than the Lowveld and areas along the Great Dyke. The country’s rainy season begins in November and normally ends around end of March or April/May if it prolongs.
Zimbabwe is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), one hour ahead of Central European Time, seven hours ahead of eastern USA time and ten hours ahead of western USA time.
Zimbabwe trades in multiple currencies. The multiple currency system which replaced the Zimbabwe dollar in February 2009 is currently dominated by the circulation of the US dollar and the South African Rand.
Zimbabwe is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the African Union (AU) among others.
Zimbabwe boasts a high literacy rate and occupies the first position on UNESCO’s literacy rankings for African countries. To date, the country has 16 universities, several tertiary colleges and vocational training centres. Zimbabwean professionals are sought after within the region and the world over. In 1999, through an act of parliament, the country established the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) to manage primary and secondary school examinations which saw the country migrating from the costly external University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate (UCLES). Since its inception, ZIMSEC has been doing a sterling job with its examination candidates doing very well at post-secondary education local, regional, international colleges and universities.
Agriculture is the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy. The country’s unique climate and rich soils enables it to grow major crops throughout the year. Zimbabwe exports tobacco, sugar, tea, coffee, cotton, seed maize, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and beef among others to various parts of the world especially European markets. The inception of colonial rule in Zimbabwe in 1890 witnessed the expropriation of fertile land from the black majority by a white minority. For close to a century, the indigenous people were displaced from prime agricultural land resulting in massive overcrowding, overstocking, overgrazing and impoverishment in the communal areas. Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector was dominated by about 3 500 largely white commercial farmers and multi-national companies holding on to about thirteen million hectares (about 46.4%) of prime land. The remainder of 15 million hectares (about 53.6%), most of it with poor soils was reserved for communal areas inhabited by close to 12 million blacks. Land Reform programme Thus in 2000, the Government of Zimbabwe embarked on the Fast-Track Land Reform Programme to redistribute land in favour of the hitherto marginalised indigenous African population. The essence of the country’s land reform was to redress colonial injustices in land settlement and ownership patterns that were skewed in favour of the white minority. The land redistribution programme was underpinned by the fundamental principles of equitable access to natural resources and means of production for all Zimbabweans. The land reform programme was carried out as an integral part of the country’s programme of enhancing social justice through economic empowerment. As a result of that assertive decision, which in some quarters was viewed as setting a dangerous precedent directed at reversing colonial gains and thwarting the vested interests of former imperial nations in the country and perhaps, the region as a whole, Western countries, taking a cue from Britain, Zimbabwe’s former colonial master, 12 imposed illegal sanctions and went on a rampage discrediting the Government of Zimbabwe – through various forms such as deliberate misinformation using global media as its main weapon. Today Zimbabwe stands vindicated, thanks to the several studies conducted by leading African and European academics pointing to the fact that the country indeed pursued a worthwhile and successful land reform and redistribution exercise.
Zimbabwe is endowed with vast mineral resources. Over 40 minerals are extracted in the country including some which provide strategic materials such as chromite, lithium, nickel and ferro-chrome. Mining contributes 4.3 percent to GDP, employs 7 percent of the country’s labour force and earns 40 percent of foreign exchange. Mines and mineral processing industries consume about one-third of Zimbabwe’s electricity. There are approximately 1,000 mines (mainly gold) that are operated by small companies, syndicates and individuals. The mining sector has a great potential for investment with huge unexplored deposits on the Great Dyke. Key minerals are gold, chrome, asbestos, uranium, coal, iron ore, nickel, copper, and diamonds, tin and platinum. The School of Mines in Bulawayo and the University of Zimbabwe’s Mining Engineering Department offer training to both local and foreign students in mining and mining technology. Only a few years ago, Zimbabwe discovered significant deposits of uranium and diamonds, and continues to make more discoveries of the latter mineral. Mine-Entra, a mega-mining exhibition which is organised by the Zimbabwe International Exhibitions Company is held during the month of July in Bulawayo annually.
Manufacturing is vital to the country’s exporting initiatives to markets in America, Europe, Africa and the Far East. The first tobacco auction floor in the country was opened in 1920. Zimbabwe exports ferro-alloys, clothing, metal products, chemicals, plastics and cotton-lint. South Africa is Zimbabwe’s major trading partner followed by Britain.
Zimbabwe’s road network stands at 100 000 kilometres. The country’s main airports are Harare, Victoria Falls, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo in Bulawayo, and Buffalo Range in Chiredzi, Kariba and Hwange.
Zimbabwe has got one fixed telecommunications service provider and three mobile telecommunications solutions service providers. The country’s mobile penetration currently stands at 97% and its tele-density (which is calculated against the total population of the country) is 100%.
The country has got seven radio stations (five public and two private) namely, National FM, Spot FM, Power FM, Radio Zimbabwe, Voice of Zimbabwe, Star FM and ZI FM as well as two television stations which are run by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). On the print side, the country has got several national and provincial newspapers. Zimbabwe Newspapers Limited which is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is the largest print media company and publishes three dailies, five weeklies, Trends, New Farmer and ZimTravel magazines.
Zimbabwe is one of the Southern African region’s most attractive, safe and secure tourist destination. The country boasts a diverse tourism product, with pristine wildlife as its mainstay. Zimbabwe’s main tourist attractions include the Mighty Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe, Kariba, Nyanga and the Matopos. National parks and conservancies constitute approximately 13 percent of the country’s surface area, with Hwange National Park, for instance, being home to over 100 species of animals and 400 species of birds. The United States of America (USA) is Zimbabwe’s major tourist source market. Wildlife is the very essence of Zimbabwe's tourism. From the black and white rhinoceros at the Matobo National Park (34 kilometers South of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city) the sable and waterbuck at Nyanga National Park (located in Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands) and the huge-tasked elephants at the Gonarezhou National Park (South Eastern Low veld of Zimbabwe), the country offers a rare opportunity to view animals in their natural habitats. A World Heritage site, Mana Pools which harbors Africa's "big five" (lion, elephant, rhino, leopard,buffalo ), is a must-see for tourists, while barely 30km from Harare, one can visit the Mbizi (zebra) Game Park for a touch of grace. Good visibility in most of the game parks presents a unique opportunity for tourists to walk unguided without the risk of being attacked by wild animals.
Zimbabwe has a rich culture of wildlife conservation. In pre-colonial times, when the indigenous people survived on hunting and gathering, they killed only what they needed. All by-products were utilized; nothing was allowed to go to waste. As a result of this tradition of conservation, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1997 recognized Zimbabwe as a world leader in wildlife conservation. Wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe is enshrined in the amended National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1990, which is administered by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. In terms of the Act, the Authority is responsible for training rangers and ensuring that the country has a thriving wildlife population. Zimbabwe owes its robust wildlife population to the training policies of the Authority. Rangers are trained for an effective three years and re-examined every two years. The rangers have jurisdiction on both private and state land. The Authority also expects nothing less than the highest degree of discipline from the rangers, who accompany all safari guides on tours, meticulously recording every detail of the trip. The Authority is launching a programme to protect the country's vulnerable rhino population, dubbed 'Operation Stronghold'. To show its determination to protect wildlife, the Authority has allocated over 60% of its 2007 budget towards the protection of animals. Some NGO's have also stepped in and donated equipment to ensure the project is a success. The Authority has also designed training programmes for newly resettled farmers, most of whom lacked expertise on wildlife conservation. The new farmers have now been taught how to conserve wildlife. The Authority also encouraged those farmers who had excess wildlife on their properties not to cull but sell some of the animals to other farmers. Government's 2006 declaration that 'all wildlife whether on private or state land is state property' has buttressed the Authority's conservation activities. In terms of the law, any farmer who kills animals without prior permission from the Authority will be prosecuted. Resettled farmers are also required to submit an annual population report to the Authority to prevent unauthorized killing on private farms. As a result of these conservation measures, the Zimbabwe elephant population has shot to 100 000 against the country's carrying capacity of 45 000. This has created competition between the elephants and rural communities as the elephants at times destroy vegetation and crops. To minimise these conflicts, therefore, the Government introduced the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE). Under the programme, communities took responsibility for managing wildlife in their own areas. As one scholar once said, 'for an environmental policy to be effective the local community needs to understand it and see itself as accruing benefits from the policy'. The National Parks and Wildlife Authority therefore only retains a supervisory role, while the rural communities themselves manage the wildlife. A wildlife committee is then appointed to take charge of counting animals, anti-poaching activities, environmental education and resolving conflicts which arise from 'problem animals.' Game scouts are also trained to help stop poaching and 14 manage wildlife. Benefits that accrue to the communities as a result of this responsibility include new schools, grinding mills or cash payments to each household. Although under CITES Zimbabwe's elephant populations are classified in Appendix 11 , prior authority has to be sought before any commercial shipments of raw ivory to export markets. Zimbabwe has thus been seeking authorization to export shipments of raw ivory to designated international markets. The profits obtained from the sales are ploughed back into wildlife conservation. With numerous varieties of wildlife and good conservation policies it is easy to understand why wildlife is at the very heart of Zimbabwe's tourism and why Zimbabwe is the darling of wildlife lovers. For more information visit
Zimbabwe has got a vibrant arts and culture industry. In 2008, UNESCO proclaimed the famous local “Jerusarema” dance a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Some of the major activities on Zimbabwe’s tourism and cultural calendar include the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), Harare International Carnival, Hlanganani/Sanganai World Travel and Tourism Fair and the Victoria Falls Carnival.
ZIMBABWE'S HEALTH DELIVERY SYSTEM Zimbabwe has made remarkable progress in the area of health especially for the majority blacks who were marginalized during the colonial era. Prior to Zimbabwe's independence, the white minority had access to a first world, insurance-funded health care system, while the blacks enjoyed only the basic of medical services. It is worth noting that at independence in 1980, there were only four referral hospitals in the country. Two were in Harare, while the other two were in Bulawayo. Of these, two were reserved for whites, while the other two served the entire black population. The only access to health care for blacks in rural areas was through church-run clinics or clinics provided by white farmers for their workers. As a remedy to these glaring disparities, the Zimbabwean government made health care easily accessible to all through repairing, building and upgrading health facilities throughout the country. Now every Zimbabwean is within walking distance of a health facility. Training health workers and reorienting the emphasis to prevention and health promotion corrected inequalities in health manpower. Health care was also made free for those earning below the minimum wage. Consequently, Zimbabwe recorded remarkable achievements in important social indicators such as crude death rate, infant mortality and life expectancy. Prior to independence, Zimbabwe had a fragmented and two tier medical system that was highly skewed in favor of the urban population in general and the white minority in particular. While there were approximately 280 doctors to service the country's 232 422 whites, there were only 850 doctors for the seven million Africans in 1978. The standards of health services for whites in Rhodesia were comparable to those of the populations of the industrialized West, with crude death rates at 8.2 per 1 000{cf to 11.2 per 1 000 in England and Wales} while infant mortality rates at 1977 were 17 per 1 000{cf 16 in England and Wales}. In comparison, African infant mortality rates were 122 per 1 000 and reached as high as 300 per 1 000 in remote areas like Binga. Government run urban health institutions, those serving the white community like Andrew Fleming, [now renamed Parirenyatwa] were not only better equipped and staffed but they also received a disproportionately large share of the health budget each year. While health institutions abounded in the urban areas, the colonial government largely neglected the masses of Zimbabwean population in the countryside. Without the sterling work of church-run hospitals, the countryside would have received little or no medical attention. Even where government clinics existed, the long distances the rural people had to walk to reach them, together with the fees charged for treatment which were beyond the reach of 15 many, tended to discourage the rural people from availing themselves of the services provided by such institutions. Moreover, the emphasis of colonial medicine on curative rather than preventative care meant that the health needs of African majority were not addressed, since most of the diseases that affected African rural dwellers were mainly communicable diseases, maternity related problems and disease caused by nutritional deficiencies, all of which were preventable. As a remedy to the above shortfalls, the Zimbabwean government soon after independence rationalized the health system, made it colour blind and equally accessible to all. It repaired 161 clinics which had been damaged by the war, built 163 new health centers and upgraded another 450 primary health care facilities throughout the country in the first four years of independence. Furthermore, training facilities for nurses at both government and mission institutions were increased. Due to the accessibility and availability of trained health personnel, the 2005 to 2006 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey revealed a marked increase in women visiting health institutions. It noted that 81% of mothers received at least one tetanus toxoid injection during pregnancy while 80% were assisted by a trained health professional at their last birth. Immunization campaigns were stepped up, especially in the rural areas, oral rehydration was introduced for diarrhoea, breast-feeding was promoted alongside childhood supplementary feeding and improvements in water supply and sanitation. By 2006, the percentage of fully immunized children stood at 53%, as compared to only 25% in 1980. In addition, as a result of the child-feeding scheme introduced by the government under the Ministry of Health's Supplementary Feeding Programme, infant malnutrition declined from 29% to 16% between 1980 and 1987. Concerned about the high birth rate in the country, the Ministry of Health set up the Zimbabwe Child Spacing and Family Planning Council in 1981 to promote the use of family planning methods and to supervise the teaching of family planning in the nation's schools. The contraceptive prevalence rate in the country has increased in the last 22 years from 38% in 1984 to 60% in 2006. So effective was this unit in disseminating family planning information and promoting child spacing methods that Zimbabwe is reputed to have the highest rate of contraceptive use in all Sub- Saharan Africa. Zimbabwe's health reforms were not restricted to modern medicines alone. Traditional healers, who had always played an important role in the psychological and indeed, physical health of the African population but who had been persecuted, ridiculed and marginalized by colonial authorities instead of being appreciated and recognized, were made part and parcel of the Zimbabwe health revolution in 1981, with the government passing the Traditional Medical Practitioners Act establishing the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healer's Association. The Association's members were encouraged to cooperate with the more conventional modern medical practitioners. Zimbabwe's infant mortality rate has dropped from 102 deaths for every 1 000 births in 1999 to 82 deaths for the same number of deaths in 2006 owing to measures being taken to combat HIV. Other factors like wide vaccination coverage that the country has always aimed for, also played a part in cutting down on child deaths. Anti-retroviral treatment for children is also now available in the country, a factor that has seen many HIV positive children surviving beyond the age of five unlike the situation of the past years. The decline in infant mortality rate comes at a time when the country has reduced its HIV prevalence rate from 33% in 1999 to 18.1 in 2006. This prompted the British and Canadian Ambassadors in Harare to separately hail Zimbabwe for its defined and effective HIV/AIDS policies, educational awareness campaigns and significant strides made in the prevention of Mother to Child Transmission [PMTCT] programmes. Nearly all the districts have at least one facility for providing HIV testing and counseling.
ZIMBABWE 'S EDUCATION SYSTEM: THE PRIDE OF THE NATION Zimbabwe inherited a segregated education system, where there were no equal opportunities for white and black citizens. At independence, the government adopted a deliberate policy of giving priority to education. The biggest allocation in the national budget since 1980 has therefore been to education. School Expansion and Enrolment There has been a massive expansion of the education system, as a result of government policies which gave priority to education. While at independence the country only had 192 secondary schools, now the country boasts of 1,600 secondary schools and 4,800 primary schools. School enrolment also increased in tandem with the expansion in school facilities. In 1980, primary school enrolment stood at 647,761 male and 588,233 female students. Today, these figures have almost tripped to 1,255,990 male and 1,237,270 female students. Zimbabwe now boasts of one of the highest literacy rates in the world because of the priority accorded to education in the post-independence era. University Expansion From only one University in 1980, Zimbabwe now boasts of 12 Universities, 12 teachers' colleges and over 12 Polytechnics. Strategic partnerships have been forged with other Universities internationally to exchange knowledge and enhance effectiveness in imparting knowledge. The course content of the programmes is fine tuned to suit global trends and demands in the labour market. The teaching of practical subjects has also equipped graduands to be employers in their own right instead of just waiting to join the job market. Adult literacy The realisation that most of the adult population had been denied the opportunity to get educated under the colonial regime prompted the government to embark on an adult literacy programme at independence. This proved to be the most effective tool in ensuring a literate population. To date, with an adult literacy rate of over 90%, Zimbabwe boasts of the highest literacy rate in Africa and one of the highest in the world. Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) Programme BEAM is one of the various social protections that government is providing to vulnerable groups through different ministries. Through BEAM the government has managed to provide social protection to orphans and vulnerable children by assisting with tuition fees, levies and examination fees. Since its inception in 2001, BEAM has managed to reduce the number of children who drop out of school due to failure to pay fees. BEAM is administered by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture and is implemented through local authorities. To date, over 4, 000,000 students have benefited from BEAM.

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