Hanke squarely attributes Zimbabwe’s disheartening position to the scourge of hyperinflation. This is not the first time the nation has faced such a predicament, as it held the fifth spot on the HAMI in 2021 due to the same underlying issue.
At present, Zimbabwe grapples with a staggering inflation rate of 243%, while the unemployment rate stands at an alarming 20%. Hanke’s projections paint a bleak economic picture, with a predicted Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of a mere 0.9%, sharply contrasting Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube’s optimistic projection of 6%.
Drawing attention to the political landscape, Hanke highlights the iron grip of the ruling political party, Zanu PF, which he compares to a political mafia rather than a conventional party. Since Robert Mugabe assumed power in 1980, followed by his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwean politics has been tightly controlled by Zanu PF. Hanke attributes the party’s policies as the primary driver of the country’s profound suffering.
Zimbabwe has endured endemic inflation since the Mugabe era, witnessing two episodes of hyperinflation when the inflation rate surpassed a shocking 50% per month for extended periods. Even in the previous year, the country faced significant challenges, with annual inflation reaching a staggering 243.8% and lending rates soaring to 131.8%.
Hanke’s Misery Index further ranks other nations experiencing similar hardships. Venezuela, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Argentina, Yemen, Ukraine, Cuba, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Angola, Tonga, and Ghana complete the list of the 15 most miserable countries, while Switzerland claims the least miserable position.
While emphasising the failures of the ruling party, Hanke offers a glimmer of hope, predicting a potential victory for Nelson Chamisa, the President of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), in Zimbabwe’s upcoming general elections scheduled for August. Hanke suggests that, provided fair and free elections are held, Chamisa and his party could steer Zimbabwe away from its current woes.
As Zimbabwe confronts its unwelcome title as the most miserable country, all eyes are now fixed on the impending elections, which hold the promise of a potential turning point. The hopes of the nation and the international community are pinned on the choice Zimbabweans will make, with the aspiration that it will lead to a path of prosperity and a brighter future.