ZIMBABWE is the most repressed economy in sub-Saharan Africa and in the bottom five worldwide due to government intervention, policy inconsistency and corruption, according to the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom which, however, notes recent gains in monetary freedom and state spending.
The survey, put together by the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, ranked Zimbabwe at 175 out of the 178 countries in the survey ahead of Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.
It is ranked below Burma, Lesotho and war-ravaged Central African Republic.
Launched in 1995, the index evaluates countries in four broad policy areas that affect economic freedom that are rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets.
“President Robert Mugabe’s government is corrupt and inefficient. The violent seizure of land has underscored poor government land reform policies and upset investor confidence in a once-vibrant agricultural sector,” reads the report.
The report noted that its overall score remains far below the world and regional averages.
“Zimbabwe’s economic freedom score is 37,6, making its economy the 175th freest in the 2015 index. Its score has increased by 2,1 points from last year, driven by a particularly large gain in the control of government spending and improvements in six other economic freedoms including trade freedom and fiscal freedom,” read the report.
It, however, noted that after the near economic collapse in the late 2000s, Zimbabwe has experienced five consecutive years of improvements in economic freedom.
“Over the past five years, economic freedom in Zimbabwe has improved by 15,5 points, the largest improvement of any nation. The biggest score gains have been in monetary freedom and the control of government spending,” read the report.
But it also noted that the labour market in Zimbabwe was one of the most restricted in the world and business licencing forces most workers to seek employment in the informal sector.
Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Estonia, Ireland and Mauritius make up the top 10 countries.