At independence in 1980 the prospects for Zimbabwe looked bright and initially economic growth was exceptionally high. However, in 1982 drought and other shocks caused gross national product (GDP) to decline and the euphoria soon vanished. For the whole decade the average per capita growth of real GDP was approximately 1 per cent, which was better than that of most other Sub-Saharan countries. In spite of this, at the end of the decade real income per capita was lower than in the mid-1970s and poverty was still widespread.
After several years of deliberation the government concluded that the import-substitution policy inherited from Rhodesia was inhibiting growth and had to be abandoned. Hence, in October 1990 a structural adjustment programme was launched, and in the beginning of 1991 a document called ‘Zimbabwe: A Framework for Economic Reform (1991-95)’ (Goz 1991a) was released, stating what steps had to be taken.
This chapter is structured in the following way. The second section deals with the economic performance since independence and the arguments for implementing a trade liberalization programme. In the third section the policy framework paper is outlined. Some of the consequences of the reform are analysed in the next section. Finally, the last section provides some concluding remarks.
In 1965 the white settler government declared the unilateral independence of Rhodesia. The UN-imposed sanctions forced the regime to follow a policy of import substitution. The Zimbabwean government, which came to power in 1980, continued with the same development strategy.
During the period 1980 to 1989 the average annual rate of growth of real GDP was 4.0 per cent (see Figure 6.1). 1 As already noted this is about 1 per cent per year in per capita terms.