Our money is no good here, boy.
From Bad to Worse
— the country!
A republic in Southern Africa. Famous recently for tension between its current President Robert Mugabe and the United Kingdom
over land issues. Was formerly the British colony of Southern Rhodesia; in 1965 it declared unilateral independence and spent 14 years under white minority rule comparable to apartheid South Africa. This led to an armed struggle with several groups, most notably the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and its offshoot, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).
Finally saw segregation collapse in 1979 and was renamed "Zimbabwe-Rhodesia" and then just "Zimbabwe" in 1980, when the world recognized its independence. Robert Mugabe, leader of ZANU's military wing, became the nation's first Black prime minister.
The good times didn't last long: by the mid-90s, now-President Robert Mugabe (upon becoming president, he abolished the PM post but kept all its powers) had gone Ax-Crazy
and turned the country into a dictatorship — hyper-inflation, economic ruin and mass poverty ensued
, as well as persecution of the white Rhodesian minority and of all opposing political organizations (including the Movement for Democratic Change, who formed in response to Mugabe's crazy dictatorial actions). A botched election in 2008, where Mugabe initially—and surprisingly—lost the vote to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai but won overwhelmingly in the second round due to what can only be described as massive electoral fraud (with a healthy dose of intimidation by armed ZANU supporters; there was intimidation during the first round too, but like all things Zimbabwe, it goes From Bad to Worse
), threatened to escalate into an all-out bloodbath.
Eventually, the MDC managed to negotiate a truce with Mugabe; Tsvangirai took the reconstituted post of Prime Minister, while Mugabe remained as President with reduced powers. Several years on, times are still very tough, with rampant poverty, food shortages, scarce resources due to international sanctions, and a constant exodus of people to other countries, mostly South Africa.
Used to be the "bread basket of Africa" before its current economic woes. The reason for the nickname was because Zimbabwe traditionally had a lively agricultural sector and was a net food exporter
to neighboring African nations. Most of this food was grown on prime farmland in the southwest owned by White Rhodesians. In 1998, Mugabe began a program of "land reform", which basically amounted to armed thugs—many of them war veterans—attacking White-owned farms and forcibly evicting the owners (if those owners were lucky; if not, they were simply killed). Unfortunately, these veterans (and Mugabe) failed to realize that productive farming is actually pretty complicated. With little knowledge of how to use modern farm equipment and NO knowledge of effective commercial agriculture—since they'd, y'know, gotten rid of the people who knew what they were doing—the seized farms quickly went to seed. Food shortages followed, helped along by the worst drought in decades. To deal with the slump, Mugabe decided that the best way out would be printing more money, which led to Zimbabwe's infamous hyperinflation.
The Zimbabwean flag
- Badass Army: The Rhodesian Army, and especially Selous Scouts and Rhodesian Light Infantry, who were very successful fighters against much more numerous and well-armed ZANU's terrorists.
- Black and Gray Morality: Literally - members of black-morality side were black, while members of gray side were partly black, partly white.
- Butt Monkey: It's a prime source of jokes due to the hyperinflation, and the fact that its president is one of the last remaining Africa-type Certified Nuts™.
- The Caligula: Robert Mugabe, according to some reports. Under his administration, the few remaining whites in Zimbabwe were killed off, political opponents (and their families) were persecuted, arrested and tortured, then there's the Matabeleland massacre and Operation Murambatsvina.
- Crazy Survivalist: What the politicians and soldiers of the Republic of Rhodesia often acted like, to the increasing unease of the UK and the international community.
- Enemy Civil War: After seizing Rhodesia, Mugabe started mass purges against pro-Nkomo government members, and, more tragically, genocide of rival tribes.
- Everything Is Racist: Mugabe and supporters like to portray foreign opposition to his rule as stemming from racism.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Mugabe
- Improvised Weapon/Closest Thing We Got: The unrecognized Republic of Rhodesia took these tropes to almost ridiculous levels within their rag-tag military during the Rhodesian Bush War. Essentially, any vehicle that the Rhodesians could weaponize - be it a truck, jeep, helicopter or plane - they weaponized. Then they took the whole thing Up to Eleven by inventing some very creative and Crazy-Prepared combined arms tactics for waging modern war in the African wilderness.
- Insistent Terminology: When the country made its Unilateral Declaration of Independence, it called itself simply "Rhodesia". Britain refused to call it anything other than "Southern Rhodesia", its colonial name, for the next fifteen years. ("Northern Rhodesia" achieved independence in 1964 as Zambia).
- Istanbul Not Constantinople: Until the Republic of Rhodesia had finally given up the ghost and Ian Smith's regime was toppled, the capital of the country was Salisbury, named in honor of the titular English lord. In 1982, the capital was renamed Harare, derived from the historical Shona chieftain Neharawa. (The Shona and the Ndebele are the two main nationalities of Zimbabwe. Both belong to the Bantu language group.)
- Never My Fault: Mugabe and his defenders (yes, they do exist) claim that Zimbabwe's economic woes are due to colonial oppression and conspiracies by Britain and other major powers. Also, former members and/or sympathizers of the government from the white minority-rule era often tend to paint themselves in a thoroughly revisionist, rosy way, denying virtually any accusation of racism within their prejudice-fueled regime of The Sixties and The Seventies, not to mention denying their own war crimes against "unruly elements" of the country's populace.
- Noble Bigot: Rhodesian leaders look almost saint by comparison to Mugabe and his goons.
- Propaganda Machine: The unrecognized Republic of Rhodesia from the 60s and 70s tried to abuse this as much as they could, portraying themselves, despite their racist rhetoric, as brave defenders of civilization and order in that part of Africa.
- Backfired spectacularly in 1980. The country had gained independence in April of that year, but the athletes meant to represent Zimbabwe in Moscow 1980 had been chosen the year before, when minority rule was still partly in force. Nearly all the athletes were white. The visual of all-white teams representing the newest black nation on the world stage made the former White Rhodesian regime look rather ridiculous.
- Rhodesian propaganda wasn't far from truth — Mugabe's regime has over time become much worse than Smith's — both for blacks and whites.
- Ridiculous Exchange Rates: Before dropping their currency they were printing notes with expiration dates, after which the notes were worth only the paper they were printed on... Which is to say they increased in their value...
- This should give a pretty good idea of their value◊.
- The best estimates we have say that Zimbabwe's hyperinflation reached its monthly peak in November 2008, with an inflation rate of 79,600,000,000% (that's 79.6 billion percent). To put that in perspective, it meant that it got to the point that prices doubled each day! It's the second-worst case of hyperinflation on record, and would've soon become the absolute worst if they hadn't decided to just chuck the Zim-$ altogether.
- Ridiculous Future Inflation: Inflation got so incredibly bad, they had to drop the Zimbabwe dollar and declare US dollars, euros, pounds sterling and South African rands as legal tender. There were Z$1,000,000 bills being printed with a limited lifespan, as the government were expecting that either they would have the inflation under control, or they would have to shift to printing Z$100,000,000,000 bills and would need to recycle the paper to print the new bills... Eventually the government printed denominations of Z$100,000,000,000,000. 90% of all jokes relating to Zimbabwe will invariably feature a reference to the current state of its economy.
- Riches To Rags: From prosperous yet troubled country during Smith's rule - to horribly poor and starving hellhole during Mugabe's rule.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized/Reign of Terror: The black terrorists, despite their reputation as freedom fighters, were much more cruel and blood-thirsty than their Rhodesian enemies. Many people thought of Mugabe as about noble freedom fighter, but in fact, he was a power-hungry tyrant whose regime was much more racist and bigoted than Smith's. In short, Mugabe turned African Switzerland into second Uganda.
- Ruins for Ruins' Sake: The Great Zimbabwae that gave the country its' current name was this for a long while, as a stone city of this scale was epically rare in Southern Africa. It was the subject of some of the most insane and partisan Flame Bait in archeological history by people who believed it could not have been built by Blacks and thus had to have been made by Whites, in spite of the fact that the truth was discerned mere decades after its' European discovery. This was mostly done by white supremacists like the Rhodesian government, but the site had been abandoned for so long that many of the natives living around it at the time it was found were newcomers to the region who also believed it had to have been built by whites. Nowerdays, the Great Zimbabwae's indigenous origins and status as a global trade hub are one of the least controversial things about Zimbabwae the country.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Mugabe's defenders portray him as a hero and resistance leader who's fighting the exploitation of Africa by the USA and Britain. On one level, this admittedly makes a certain kind of sense. After all, why let foreigners loot the national till when you can have it all to yourself?
The twin green, yellow and red stripes symbolize the peasants and agriculture, mineral wealth, and the blood of the fallen during Zimbabwe's struggles for independence, respectively; the black central stripe stands for the people; the white triangle symbolizes peace, containing the red star of the revolution, upon which is superimposed the Zimbabwe Bird
, a soapstone sculpture of an African Fish Eagle
found in the ruins of Great Zimbabwe.