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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 17:46 GMT
What next for Zimbabwe?
Two unidentified children pick up rotten eggs from a heap of uncollected rotting garbage in Mbare, a township southwest of Harare (AP)
With the economy in tatters, endemic poverty and unemployment, and continued political strife, where is Zimbabwe heading as 2005 draws to a close?

Life expectancy in the country is just over 30 years and 20% of adults are infected with HIV/Aids.

In sport too, controversy reigned this year with squabbles and allegations of fraud in cricket.

On the other hand, things are looking up with Zimbabwe having qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations. And on the arts front, the scene continues to thrive.

As 2006 approaches, where does Zimbabwe stand in terms of its politics, economics, arts and sports? Is it in "meltdown" as the UN recently described? What does the rest of Africa feel about Zimbabwe's future?

This debate has now closed. Below is a selection of your comments:

There is no hope unless the UN supervises free elections and subsequent de-zanufication of all institutions
Jonathan, Nottingham, UK
I think Zimbabwe under Mugabe is dead. I fled my homeland to escape government sponsored thuggery and theft of property. There is no hope unless the UN supervises free elections and subsequent de-zanufication of all institutions.
Jonathan, Nottingham, UK

Zimbabwe is indeed in "meltdown" as suggested by the UN. This however does not mean that people should give up on it. There is need for continued dialogue and for developed countries to try and solve the Zimbabwean crisis.
Brighton Ncube, Los Angeles, USA

Most of the suffering and hardship Zimbabweans are suffering is almost the same in some of the African countries. We need our leaders to show high level of responsibility and mercy on those they rule.
Ngozi Odoemela, UK

I used to cite Zimbabwe as an example of how other African economies should develop mechanized agriculture
Kennedy Ike, Nigeria
It is a pity that a vibrant economy like Zimbabwe's should be run to the ground the way it has been done. I used to cite Zimbabwe as an example of how other African economies should develop mechanized agriculture. It is even a bigger pity that Zimbabweans, rather than demand accountability from their clueless leaders, turn and blame the west for all their problems. The case of Zimbabwe saddens me most in Africa. Its high time Africans started revolutions to bring their leaders back to their senses. Sit-tight-and-greedy leaders are Africa's main problems.
Kennedy Ike, Lagos, Nigeria

I feel that this poverty is due to the seizing of land which was given to the right people with no capital. Why can't they share the land with whites and some zimbs with capital. We need our economy back.
Munch, Mansa, Zambia

Your comments on the future of Zimbabwe reflect the problems that the countries population are faced with very well. The comments reflect a very British outlook on the current situation i.e. that the countries population are dying in large numbers from the deliberate policies of the government but so long as the cricket goes ahead everything is fine.

I have longstanding friends in Zimbabwe and fortunately for most of them they have been able to relocate to England however some have not and so we are forced to watch the unravelling of this great nation by proxy, through their eyes. The greatest problem the country faces is that England is not able to overcome its inherited guilt and stand up to the countries leaders. We should bring real pressure to bear on the regime. We do have a responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe because of our colonial past but it is to the people of Zimbabwe not its current rulers.
Nick Buckingham, Northampton

It's our responsibility as African countries to help but no one is listening
Alfred, Tanzania

What is happening is really sad. We're standing here and watching another neighbouring country going to the ground. It's our responsibility as African countries to help but know one is listening.
Alfred, Tanzania

We are near rock bottom. Everyday supermarket shelves are getting emptier. Inflation is going through the roof. If Zimbabwe had oil or other reserves the world states would insist the UN intervene by helping the people.
Jane, Harare, Zimbabwe

The land redistribution failed mainly because people who had no idea about farming were 'given' land and told to farm with little or no training, equipment or seeds.
Charles, Perth, Australia

I find it interesting how everything except the true cause of the problem is blamed. The biggest fault lies with us Zimbabweans for being so passive and allowing all the misdeeds to happen before our very eyes. It's time we created a society that demands accountability.
Fungai T, Calgary, Canada

Zimbabweans and Zimbabwe are resilient
Lionel Naidoo, Australia
Zimbabweans and Zimbabwe are resilient. A new political order, with genuine and honest representatives, will definitely see a growth in everything. We must stay positive at this time.
Lionel Naidoo, Sydney, Australia

I think the president must resign on moral grounds, in order to pave way for fresh leadership with fresh ideas. Otherwise we have nothing to mention about Zimbabwe.
Bwalya Musonda, Lusaka, Zambia

We have lived with this biased media for the last seven years and every year the same media forecasts total collapse. Yet we have lived through it and we continue to be stronger each day we live. You cannot compare the Zimbabwean economy to some of the worst economies we know about. Yes, we are going through a rough patch, but we will emerge stronger. Give us a break.
John Tichagarika, Zimbabwe

I don't agree that Zimbabwe is in a meltdown. There is just too much publicity about the country. The situation compares well with most of the African countries. What we only need is the rains and reduced attention by media and we will be back on track!
Thulani Ndlovu, Zimbabwe

Some of us have lived through this hell on earth. Four of my close relatives are having to live in the open because their houses were razed to the ground
Bongani Ndhlovu, Bulawayo

It's very interesting to read the varied opinions from your readers concerning Zimbabwe - whether positive or negative. However, both sides seem to base their opinions on media reports which to me is very dangerous. Some of us have lived through this hell on earth for the past 25 years, and know exactly what it feels like. Four of my close relatives are having to sleep and live in the open because their houses were razed to the ground.
Bongani Ndhlovu, Bulawayo

2006 will see Zimbabwe back on her feet. The fact she survived the last ten years tells a volume of her strength.
Joel Chiutsi, Canada

Zimbabwe is still strong and vibrant. It is not dead yet. What is needed is a new regime that is dynamic, free from corruption, responsive and proactive.
Edgar Muza, Harare, Zimbabwe

Until 1999, Zimbabwe was doing well. And then the farms were grabbed, and commercial farming totally disrupted, thus totally disrupting the economy. As a longstanding resident of a small rural town, we know that the people have been terrorized into silent acquiescence.
Anonymous, Nyanga, Zimbabwe

Don't be fooled you guys. Zimbabwe will get back on its feet again. It's a question of just persevering to restore democracy. We, the people of Zimbabwe, know better than you. We need real help, not this philanthropic discrimination from Western countries.
Ndatenda Zvangu, South Africa

There is no doubt that Zimbabwe is heading in the right direction. Those who claim that Zimbabwe's economy is going to collapse are just dreaming. In the next five years, Zimbabwe will be the richest country in Africa and those who criticise it will regret it later.
Simon, USA

It is heartening to read so many opinions about my beloved country, meaning that people do care what happens to us. Come 2006 and God will surely answer our prayers. And to the guy who talked about elections, forget it. They are sure to be rigged.
Graffiks, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

My heart cries out to the plight of the people in Africa like Zimbabwe. I just wish I could do something. Those two girls picking rotten eggs are Africa's future generation. As 2006 approaches, it is high time we Africans mobilised any resources we have to help out our fellow brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe rather than waiting for international bodies like UN or World Food Programme.
Prossy Nannyombi, Entebbe, Uganda

Zimbabwe is melting down, and its recovery is through foreign aid. Having rain or no rain is not going help anything because there is no-one to utilise the rain.
Tafara Alfred Mukwendi, Birmingham, UK

Zimbabwe is heading to renewal and prosperity. It might seem that Zimbabwe is poorer now than before, but no Zimbabwean peasant will agree with that. They were landless in their own country and now they have land.
Muhoza Chiza, Mwanza, Tanzania

One solution: Re-colonize under the guise of the UN. Have transparent elections after four years. Invest heavily in new true democracy. Hold true to a constitution that believes in fundamental human rights.
Steve, Boston, USA

Call it drought, western media, colonialism, Blairism or whatever excuse you can trump up. The fact is there are virtually no crops in the ground because there are virtually no legitimate farmers. For those Zimbabweans not in Zimbabwe supporting this lunacy, why are you not still in Zimbabwe if it is so great?
Rob, UK

I am living in Harare. We have got problems but the media is over-exaggerating them. Zimbabweans are soldiering on and in the end will come up stronger. 2006 will be a good year for Zimbabwe.
Chimhosva Chimhosva, Harare, Zimbabwe

I come from Zambia and I know where Zimbabwe is coming from. The only next thing for Zimbabwe is to have a new leader with fresh ideas and have good international relations.
Percy Ngwira, Hong Kong

The plight of Zimbabwe is a scandal
Jeremy Wilcock, Hull

The plight of Zimbabwe is a scandal. How can the world stand by and let this happen? If this was a business, it would be placed in administration.
Jeremy Wilcock, Hull, UK

Zimbabwe is going down and it has most probably hit rock bottom. If the country does not have a good rainy season in 2006 and the billion dollar aid package does not materialise from South Africa, the country will be doomed. Zimbabwe will have a future when the country starts correcting some of the mistakes made during the land reform programme. It is imperative that those who have been allocated farms become productive.
Farai Zichawo, Reading, UK

Dear Zimbabwe - how I would have loved to gather you in my bosom just like a mother hen does to her chicks. You were one of paradise, then suddenly the laughing stock of the whole world. You have more wrongs than rights. You have the richest soil, but cannot produce your own food because of internal and external interference. Africa stands watching you deteriorate, but cannot provide solutions to you.
Shuttie FN Libuta, Kitwe, Zambia

What every Zimbabwean at home and abroad wishes is a proper rain season in 2006 and nothing else
Oliver Mtyambizi, Cardiff, UK

We as Zimbabweans we know the truth about our country and some don't as has always been the case in every society. Politicians of all walks of life have failed to resuscitate the political, economic and social life of an average Zimbabwean. What every Zimbabwean at home and abroad wishes is a proper rain season in 2006 and nothing else.
Oliver Mtyambizi, Cardiff, UK

If Zimbabweans want to improve their economy and get back to track, they must vote for another party.
Elviira, Namibia

I am a Tanzanian who happened to be in Zimbabwe in 1986 then 1992 and in 2004.The situation there is next to worst. Food is scarce, there is no employment and it is queues everywhere. Those who blame or condemn the western media it seems they can not differentiate what are opinions and what are facts. The pains and sufferings that our brothers and sisters are experiencing can not be imagined and for sure it will take time for Zimbabwe to be a paradise again.
Al Mwambulusye, Toronto, Canada

This past August I returned to Zimbabwe for the first time in more than a decade. The changes I saw were astounding. Reading about the situation in the western media is one thing, living it is a twilight zone experience. The city is virtually dark, everywhere there's the smell of smoke. Foreign currency is available only on the black market. A haircut was $20,000 when I arrived. Three weeks later it was $40,000. There are lines everywhere - lines for petrol that might show up, lines at the passport office for those desperate to get out, lines for bread, mealie meal, sugar, cooking oil, lines for the dwindling public transport fleets. As far as other African countries, it's not a big deal because we have just joined the club, and we have not yet hit rock bottom.
Tamuka Hwami, Zimbabwean in USA

I was born in Zimbabwe but refuse to call myself a Zimbabwean. I disowned that country because it's easier not to care. And the only reason someone stops caring is when there is no hope. Take it from me, Zimbabwe melted way before the United Nations decided to admit it had.
Sibusisiwe, San Antonio, Texas

Zimbabwe has hit rock bottom and the only way it can go is up. HIV infection rates have fallen and it appears the country will have a good rainy season. The people of Zimbabwe have been resilient despite the tremendous odds stacked against them, for example, economic sanctions and a hostile international media.
Farai Dziva, Leicester, UK

Zimbabwe is in dire straits. I do not see any future for the country, until the leaders do the right thing, which is protect the interests of their citizens.
Kingsley Ezenekwe, Lagos

Zimbabweans will continue suffer and suffer because of its neighbouring countries cold water policy towards them
Peter Tuach, Minnesota

The hardship Zimbabweans have endured for all these recent years would take time for the country to recover from that situation. Meanwhile, some of these policies that have been carried out or used against Zimbabwean citizens are against international laws. However, Zimbabweans will continue suffer and suffer because of its neighbouring countries cold water policy towards them.
Peter Tuach, Minnesota, USA

Zimbabweans have voted for Mugabe in multiple elections again and again since 1980. I presume they must be happy with his government and agree with its policies. All the bad news in that case can only be because of the bad 'colonial' or 'western' media campaigns. Surprising though, over three million Zimbabweans have left the country that they so dearly love.
Ralph Miescher, Luzern, Switzerland

I never in my lifetime thought I could leave my country to be a citizen in another country but because of corruption, government mismanagement and unaccountability, and disregard for the rule of law, most Zimbabweans, myself included, had to flee our beloved country. This has got nothing to do with the media.
Rebecca Muzorewa, Quebec, Canada

Zimbabwe has been destroyed by negative media coverage. I'm not sure that all is gloom and doom about the country. With the happenings in Ethiopia if it were in Zimbabwe God knows what you, the world media, would have said.
Besenty Gomez, Kitty Village, The Gambia

I think Zimbabwe is building a backbone just from scratch, thus this situation.

I feel bad for my fellow Africans in Zimbabwe. The untold hardship and suffering they go through is beyond human comprehension. With the precarious nature of things in Zimbabwe right now, I do not see any improvement or changes, except if a miracle happened.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

Just recently, hundreds of thousands of people and perhaps a million were left homeless and jobless because of a government program to tear down urban shelters and commercial stalls considered illegal structures. We received heart-rending stories of families and children living in the open during the cold months. If the government was cohesive and transparent in their dealings, there can be a bright future for Zimbabwe.
Josephat Mua, Kenyan in USA

The policy of allocating farmlands to landless poor Africans seems a good idea. However the tactless implementation and the less than diplomatic method of handling the inter-racial and international relations of the whole exercise has reduced things into a pitiable disaster.
Anthony Okosun, Baltimore, USA


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