The media have extensively discussed Mugabe’s view that Zimbabwe is second only to South Africa in terms of development.

Development is usually measured on the basis of GDP per capita, adult literacy rate, infant mortality, average life expectancy, urbanization and industrialization.

I went to the World Bank Development Indicators database and decided to check how does Zimbabwe performs in some of these catagories.

GDP per capita (current US $)

With 924 dollars, Zimbabwe is, at best, 21st after Angola, Botswana, Cape Verdde, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibuti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland and Zambia.

country GDP per capita current US Dollars
Seychelles 15390
Equatoria Guinea 14439
Mauritius 9252
Gabon 8266
Botswana 6360
South Africa 5718
Namibia 4673
Angola 4101
Swaziland 3200
Cape Verde 3080
Nigeria 2671
Sudan 2414
Djibuti 1945
Sao Tome and Principe 1669
Cote d’Ivoire 1399
Kenya 1376
Ghana 1369
Zambia 1304
Cameroon 1217
Lesotho 1067
Zimbabwe 924


Adult Literacy

With an adult literacy of 87, which is basically on par with Zambia, is at best the 8th most literate country in Sub-Saharan Africa, after Botswana (88%), Mauritius (90%), Namibia (91%), Sao Tome (91.7%), South Africa (93%), Equatorial Guinea (95%) and Seychelles (95%).

Zimbabwe is clearly not at the bottom of either ranking, but it not at the top either. As there are several African countries that are more developed than Zimbabwe in various respects. So Zimbabwe does not take second place to South Africa in terms of development, it takes second place to several countries–which is really sad because Zimbabwe has the potential to outperform many countries in the continent.