Zimbabwe's economic crisis & hyperinflation, 1997-2009

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The focus of this paper will be on Zimbabwe’s particular hyperinflationary episode. The crisis has its roots in Zimbabwe's struggle for independence, which took place in the 1970s. This struggle, known as the Second Chimurengo, culminated in Zimbabwe’s declaration of Independence on April 18, 1980. The incumbent President Mugabe has repeatedly referred to the current period of Zimbabwe’s history as the Third Chimurenga: the final stage in Zimbabwe's battle against those he terms the "neo-colonialists" (Raftopoulos, 2009). Given all the hyperinflations of the past, the question to be asked is whether the Zimbabwean experience is an isolated economic novelty; or, rather, is it simply a repetition of the economic and political follies that have plagued some of the fiat governments of the modern world? The purpose of this research, then, is to provide a detailed historical account of the economic side of the crisis, documenting the observable causes and phenomena that accompanied it. This account will then form the basis of a historical analysis of the key features that the Zimbabwean episode shares with other past hyperinflations, in an attempt to draw universal conclusions about the emergence and development of such episodes.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 56-67).

Includes abstract.