Miserable is a word usually we do not want to hear, but it still exists. And today we will explore this in a different manner. The human condition exists along a wide spectrum, ranging from profound misery to great happiness. In the realm of economics, misery often arises from high inflation rates, steep borrowing costs, and widespread unemployment. Economic growth is the key to alleviating this misery.
By comparing various countries’ metrics, we can gain valuable insights into the levels of happiness and sadness across the world. One such metric used to gauge misery is the Misery Index, which takes into account factors such as unemployment, inflation, bank-lending rates, and real GDP per capita. In the latest ranking, Zimbabwe has emerged as the world’s most miserable country, according to Hanke’s 2022 Misery Index (HAMI). In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind Zimbabwe’s ranking and explore the economic challenges the country is facing.
Zimbabwe’s – The World’s Most Miserable Country
High Stakes in Zimbabwe’s Polls
Zimbabwe is currently undergoing one of the worst economic crises in its recent history. As President Emerson Mnangagwa, who has been in office since November 2017, prepares to seek re-election for a second term, he faces strong opposition. Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and his Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) managed to secure 19 out of 28 seats in the recent Parliamentary by-elections, signaling potential challenges for Mnangagwa’s ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), in the upcoming 2023 presidential election.
Factors Contributing to Zimbabwe’s Misery
Soaring Inflation and Weakening Currency
Zimbabwe has been designated as the most miserable country among 157 nations worldwide, surpassing war-torn countries like Ukraine, Syria, and Sudan. The country has been plagued by skyrocketing inflation, reaching a staggering 243.8 percent last year. In December, inflation peaked at 280 percent, one of the highest rates globally. The Zimbabwean dollar has also experienced a significant depreciation, trading at 930 to the U.S. dollar in the parallel market. Consequently, living standards have plummeted, pushing 7.9 million people, half of the population, into extreme poverty.
Economic Contraction and Consumer Behavior
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts a further decline in Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product by 3.5 percent in 2023. As inflation continues to rise, many people in Harare are avoiding supermarkets and turning to mobile and roadside sellers for their basic needs. Purchasing from these sellers is cheaper, with customers able to get two drinks for a dollar instead of one from a supermarket. The favorable exchange rate offered by these sellers further drive customers away from larger establishments.
The Role of Zimbabwe’s Political Landscape
Zimbabwe’s long-standing ruling party, ZANU-PF, has governed the country with an iron grip since Robert Mugabe’s reign, which began in 1980 and continued under his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa. However, ZANU-PF’s policies have resulted in significant misery for the population. The country has experienced endemic inflation, including two episodes of hyperinflation, during the Mugabe era, with inflation rates exceeding 50 percent per month for extended periods. In 2022, annual inflation stood at 243.8 percent, accompanied by lending rates of 131.8 percent.
The Path to Recovery
Nelson Chamisa and the Citizens Coalition for Change
With elections on the horizon, Nelson Chamisa and his Citizens Coalition for Change present a promising alternative for Zimbabwe. If fair and free elections are held, Chamisa could potentially lift the country out of its current dire state. Zimbabwe has endured years of fluctuating currency values, aggravated by the adoption of the U.S. dollar for trade. Economists believe that the country is inching towards full dollarization, as the local currency experienced a 34 percent slump in April alone.
Addressing Economic Mismanagement
Years of economic mismanagement under Robert Mugabe and later under his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, have further hampered Zimbabwe’s economy. Hyperinflation and rapid currency devaluation have exacerbated the situation. As the country gears up for the upcoming elections, Zimbabweans are feeling the heat of a high cost of living, with inflation surpassing 131 percent in May.
The Top 15 Most Miserable Countries
In addition to Zimbabwe, there are 14 other countries that ranked high on Hanke’s 2022 Misery Index (HAMI). These countries are Venezuela, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Argentina, Yemen, Ukraine, Cuba, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Angola, Tonga, and Ghana. The index offers insights into the economic challenges faced by these nations and the impact on the well-being of their populations.
Zimbabwe’s ranking as the world’s most miserable country highlights the severe economic hardships faced by its people. Factors such as soaring inflation, a weakening currency, and economic contraction have contributed to this misery. However, the upcoming elections and the potential for change, represented by Nelson Chamisa and the Citizens Coalition for Change, offer a glimmer of hope for the country’s future. Addressing years of economic mismanagement and implementing sound economic policies will be crucial for Zimbabwe’s recovery.
Here are some key questions you may have in mind:
1. What is the Misery Index?
The Misery Index is a metric that combines factors such as unemployment, inflation, bank-lending rates, and real GDP per capita to measure the level of misery in a country’s economy.
2. Why is Zimbabwe considered the most miserable country?
Zimbabwe has been designated as the most miserable country due to its soaring inflation rates, a weakening currency, and a decline in living standards. These factors have resulted in a significant portion of the population falling into extreme poverty.
3. Who is Nelson Chamisa?
Nelson Chamisa is an opposition leader in Zimbabwe and the leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change. He has emerged as a strong contender in the upcoming presidential elections and offers an alternative to the ruling party.
4. What are the top 15 most miserable countries?
The top 15 most miserable countries, according to the Hanke’s 2022 Misery Index, are Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Argentina, Yemen, Ukraine, Cuba, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Angola, Tonga, and Ghana.
5. How can Zimbabwe recover from its economic crisis?
Zimbabwe can recover from its economic crisis by implementing sound economic policies, addressing years of economic mismanagement, and ensuring fair and free elections. The potential leadership of Nelson Chamisa and the Citizens Coalition for Change offers hope for the country’s recovery.