Zimbabwe Social Condition Facts

Social conditions

The first years after independence in 1980, before the AIDS immunodeficiency virus began to spread on a large scale, the state of health was quite good compared to many other sub-Saharan countries. But the AIDS epidemic hit Zimbabwe hard and with the economic crisis that arose in the late 1990s, the country ended in a rapid social decline. The deep economic and social crises caused something of a social breakdown in Zimbabwe.

Living conditions deteriorated over a long period of growing poverty, deteriorating public health, declining life expectancy and even starvation. The downturn has been halted but the situation is still serious.

When the bottom left the economy in 2008, the picture was black: poverty and unemployment soon included the entire population. Nearly five million residents depended on food aid to keep the famine away. Fewer children attended school. Eliminated water treatment systems and collapses in the health care sector contributed to an outbreak of cholera that took around 5,000 people’s lives. Tens of thousands of people with the disease.

zimbabwe population

The AIDS rate was the second highest in Africa and the average life expectancy was lower than 40 years (from 66 in 1997). Now it has risen again, not least as the mortality rate in AIDS has gone down. But according to the World Health Organization (WHO), women in Zimbabwe have a lower number of healthy years of life than women in any other country. About 15 percent of the adult population is HIV-infected. AIDS affects society as a whole. Its spread is a human disaster and a financial ruin. In addition to rising healthcare costs and other social spending, many working people die prematurely, which has contributed to reducing the country’s productivity.

Maternal and infant mortality is high. The shortage of doctors and nurses is crying not least because many highly educated people left the country during the crisis of the 1990s, when wages could not live on (see Financial overview). There is also a shortage of medicines and other medical equipment. According to official statistics, two out of three Zimbabweans live in poverty and about half the population suffers from malnutrition. More than one in four children under the age of five is inhibited in the plant due to nutritional deficiencies. Many depend on food aid, especially when the crops fail.

Daily life

Zimbabwean society is very segregated, not least in terms of the labor market. Traditionally, white Zimbabweans have been their own entrepreneurs or held managerial positions, but gradually the white elite has been replaced by a black one. The so-called war veterans are represented in many workplaces and former military and police officers now have important positions in both the public and private sectors. President Robert Mugabe’s supporters are being rewarded while there is a discriminatory policy towards oppositionists. They receive neither part of land, work nor government grants.

In Zimbabwe, men and women are equal before the law, but because it is a male-dominated society, most women find it difficult in practice to assert their rights. The traditional customary law applied in rural areas makes a difference between men and women – to the disadvantage of women. Women are discriminated against in matters of inheritance and family law. At the same time, a majority of all women are small farmers, so the question of who provides who is not clear.

The nuclear family predominates in the cities, while in rural areas it is common for more than one generation to live under the same roof. A child is an investment – parents take care of their children and expect to be cared for when they get older. Older people have high status and there is always room for them in the family.

Arranged marriages are unusual, young people usually choose their own partner. But both families are usually very involved in the marriage, which includes determining the amount of the bride’s dowry. After the wedding, the bride and children belong to the man and his family. Divorces are unusual and often lead to the woman being stigmatized. She has neither the right to property nor her children, they are owed to the man and his family. Polygamy occurs but has decreased due to the difficult financial situation.

The biggest threats to women’s health are the lack of maternal care and HIV / AIDS. Women are more severely affected by the HIV / AIDS epidemic than men, partly because women are more infected than men, and partly because it is often the responsibility of women to take care of sick family members. Sexualized violence against oppositional women occurs. Abortion is prohibited.

Children are particularly hard hit by the lack of food, clean water and sanitation. Many children are malnourished. Also, the AIDS epidemic is affecting the children extra hard as many lose their parents, siblings and relatives. The proportion of children who start primary school has dropped sharply (see Education). Child labor is prohibited by law but exists to a large extent and is reported to increase. Child prostitution occurs.

In order to be recruited to military forces, you must be 18 years old, but there is a large proportion of children in the youth militia, who originate from the state youth service National Youth Service. It started in 2000 as a voluntary youth camp but later developed into more or less compulsory paramilitary training camps for children and adolescents. The training includes both military exercises and weapons management. There are reports of violence, rape and the spread of HIV within the youth militia.

Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe. Acceptance for gay, bisexual and transsexuals is very low in society.


Infant Mortality: 34 per 1000 births (2018)

Percentage of HIV infected: 12.7 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young women

5.7 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 3.2 percent (2018)

Proportion of population with access to clean water: 66.6 percent (2015)

Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 36.2 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 10.3 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 94 (2016)

Proportion of women in parliament: 32 percent (2018)



Archbishop is forced to resign

Bulawayo’s Catholic Archbishop, Pius Ncube, is forced to leave office. The bishop, who is one of the president’s sharpest critics, has been charged a few months earlier, accused of having a love affair with a married woman. Adultery is illegal in Zimbabwe.

constitutional amendments

Following South African mediation, Zanu-PF and MDC agree on a series of constitutional changes ahead of elections scheduled for 2008.


New stock act

Parliament adopts a controversial law that states that at least 51 percent of the shares in all companies in the country should be owned by black Zimbabweans; This means that foreign companies will be forced to transfer some of their shares to domestic interests. Nothing is said about how it should go, but the law gives the minister who is to supervise the issue the right to approve a lower level of Zimbabwean shareholding in some cases. The MDC, which claims the law will scare off foreign investors, is leaving in protest when Parliament votes.


Opposition members arrested

Tsvangirai is arrested along with an additional 100 people, in connection with a demonstration held despite the government’s ban. A person is shot to death by a police officer. Only after the Supreme Court intervened is Tsvangirai released, who is then admitted to hospital after abuse in the detention center.


Demonstrations are prohibited

Morgan Tsvangirai is forced to set up a square meeting in Harare that was supposed to start his presidential campaign, after the police used tear gas and water cannons against the congregation. Demonstration ban is introduced.