plague-powerRecently, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank chose not to lend additional money to Zimbabwe, saying the country is in arrears on repaying previous loans. President Mugabe blames the United States and the European Union for Zimbabwe’s woes claiming illegal, unilateral sanctions are being used as a foreign policy tool to support regime change. But Zimbabwe’s financial problems are a direct result of President Robert Mugabe’s patronage networks, which support his political base.

76% of Zimbabwe’s tax revenue is spent to pay the salaries of more than 250,000 civil servants, who recently received a 14% pay increase. Rather than investing in Zimbabwe’s infrastructure and stimulating its stagnant economy, Mugabe continues to build his patronage networks to solidify his authority. As reported by BBC, Zimbabwe’s finance minister stated, “He is embarrassed by the bill to pay state employees, but either reducing their wages, or laying off civil servants, would face resistance from President Mugabe.”

Unfortunately, this is another example of a phenomena that plagues African countries: Politicians more concerned with remaining in power than their responsibility to the people they swore to protect and defend.  Until African leaders accept their civic responsibility to directly invest in
infrastructure and societal improvements, instead of their patronage networks, these countries will not achieve full developmental potential.