A 2017 article by Wandile Sihlobo suggests that Zimbabwe was never Africa’s breadbasket as others claim.
Basing on a number of indicators, Sihlobo concluded that when Zimbabwe’s former president, the late Robert Mugabe inherited the country from Ian Smith, Zimbabwe was hardly able to sustain itself. Part of the article reads:
The available data, which covers three distinct phases in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, suggests that the country was self-sufficient before and in the two decades after Mugabe came to power.
Even then, Zimbabwe’s maize and wheat output were generally modest and volatile. It wasn’t sufficient to support strong exports to the rest of the continent and world – which fails to fit the idea of a food-basket.
In the third phase, the country’s maize and wheat production significantly declined, which further weakened Zimbabwe’s standing in the continent’s food system.
The sentiments were supported by Brian Kagoro, a Zimbabwean lawyer and academic who recently claimed that the late former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe did not inherit a great country from Ian Smith as others claim.
Meanwhile, comments on Sihlobo’s article suggest that although the analysis was great, it was making reference to wrong reports. A number of responses suggested that Zimbabwe was the breadbasket for the SADC region and not Africa at large.
More: Africa Check