Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Mnangagwa's upper middle-income economy is not achievable!

27 Feb 2024 at 21:40hrs | Views
For the past six years, the Zimbabwe government has made enormous noise over its 'upper middle-income economy' vision.

The country is supposed to attain this dream by the year 2030.

The Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa administration has sought to brand this dream as the panacea to the perennial economic challenges that have dogged ordinary Zimbabweans for over two decades.

In their talk, they paint an image of a country where no one will be suffering - with each and every citizen enjoying a relatively comfortable standard of living.

Of course, I have written quite a bit on this issue, exposing this fallacy - since the attainment of an 'upper middle-income economy status', on its own, has never guaranteed an improved livelihood for anyone.

In previous articles, I have sought to highlight that achieving an 'upper middle-income economy' was merely a measure of the domestic and foreign output claimed by residents of a country.

What this simply means is that it is a calculation of a country's GNI (Gross National Income) whose figure is then divided by its population (per capita).

As such, a country's status is determined by this GNI per capita.

In other words, 'lower middle-income economies' are those with a GNI per capita between US$1,086 and US$4,255 - whilst 'upper middle-income economies' are between US$4,256 and US$13,205.

By the most recent figures, Zimbabwe's GNI per capita sits at US$2,200 - meaning that we are currently a 'lower middle-income economy'.

Other countries in this 'lower middle-income economy' group are, inter alia, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, and Nigeria.

As can be seen, these are countries where their citizens are already enjoying quite a higher standard of living than Zimbabweans, in spite of sharing the same economic group.

Let us take a closer look at one of these countries... Kenya.

In 2023, the annual inflation rate was only at 6.6 percent, whilst a paltry 16.1 percent of the population lived under the international poverty line.

Their unemployment rate stood at an impressive 4.9 percent.

Now, compare that to Zimbabwe.

In the midst of dodgy statistics, our inflation rate is the highest in the world at 1,367 percent - with a local currency that has lost 94.6 percent of its value since 1st December 2023.

Nearly half the population (an estimated 47 percent) are living in extreme poverty, while over two-thirds of the workforce earn below the poverty datum line.

Those who are formally employed in Zimbabwe are a measly 5 percent - meaning 95 percent can legitimately be classified as unemployed.

Yet, in all this, both Zimbabwe and Kenya are 'lower middle-income economies'.

This should tell us something.

Our poverty and suffering in Zimbabwe is not because we are not an 'upper middle-income economy'.

This also goes without saying that the same poverty and suffering will not end simply because we have attained 'upper middle-income economy' status.

Put differently, the main reason we find ourselves in this mess is on account of a leadership that is looting our God-given wealth, which should be benefiting all of us.

Only a small ruling elite is swimming in opulence in Zimbabwe, in a sea of untold misery and anguish.

That is where the wealth we should be enjoying - as those in Kenya - is disappearing.  

This brings out another question.

Is it even still possible for Zimbabwe to attain the envisioned 'upper middle-income economy by 2030' dream?

The short and direct answer to that is a resounding NO.

Let me put it this way.

A man is driving from Kwekwe to Harare - where he intends to attend a crucial meeting at 10:00 hrs.

However, when he arrives in Kadoma - a distance of about 141 kilometres away from his destination - the time is already 09:45 hrs.

Surely, short of either flying in a superfast plane, or performing a biblical Philip miracle (of disappearing from one place and appearing miles away within a second), there is no way he can get to his meeting on time.  

The best thing the man can do is contact those at the meeting informing them that he would be late... very late.  

That is the same situation in which Zimbabwe finds itself as far as its 'upper middle-income economy by 2030' vision is concerned.

According to the World Bank - and based on our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which currently sits at US$36 billion for 2023 - the country would require a sustained average annual economic growth rate of at least 9 percent to achieve this desired goal.

In 2023, our economic growth was 4.5 percent, and this year, it is projected to be 3.5 percent.

Let us be reminded that our GNI per capita is US$2,200.

It then goes without saying that for us to reach the aspired GNI per capita of between US$4,256 and US$13,205 - necessary to be classified as an 'upper middle-income economy' - it will take a phenomenal annual economic growth rate.

Just like the man traveling to Harare for a meeting, the current 4.5 and 3.5 percent economic growth rate is far too slow to reach the required GNI per capita by 2030.

We need a 'speed' of around 9 percent per annum or more.

In other words, this is no longer a realistic target.

An 'upper middle-income economy by 2030' is out of the question.

These are the truths we need to tell the people.

Besides, had this still been feasible, there is nothing to hope for since we are already suffering when we should be living pretty.

The Mnangagwa regime is already looting what is supposed to benefit the citizens - what will change in 2030?

Whether we attain an 'upper middle-income economy' status or not means nothing to ordinary Zimbabweans.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:, or visit website:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.