Zimbabwe Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources and energy

Zimbabwe is rich in minerals, especially in the central parts. The mining industry accounts for over a tenth of GDP and nearly half of export revenue. Gold, platinum, nickel, asbestos, diamonds and coal are some of the most important minerals extracted. The country has good access to coal and hydropower but suffers from a great lack of electricity and fuel.

Zimbabwe has a large share of the world’s chromite, and also mines copper, iron ore, chrome, silver, lithium etc.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Zimbabwe with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

The mining industry, which is dependent on foreign investment, declined sharply in the context of the political crisis and the economic collapse that followed in the first decade of the 21st century. The mines suffered a shortage of foreign currency and spare parts. It also happened that the loyalist militia occupied mines or exercised extortion against their leadership. Greater stability meant that a substantial recovery began in 2009. Several mines that had been closed were reopened. The global financial crisis that collapsed at the same time pushed down the prices of some base metals, but the gold price plunged.

Regular discussions that the state mining sector creates uncertainty in the industry: many multinational mining companies have sold their operations to domestic or South African companies. The decision that at least 51 percent of all businesses must be owned by Zimbabwe also discourages investment (see Financial overview). Constant electricity outages and capital shortages are other obstacles for the mining industry.

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Another problem is that perhaps as many as one million people try to squeeze out their income by illegally washing metals out of mines and watercourses, which means that the state loses significant revenue. The law says that only state-owned companies may sell precious metals.

Hydroelectric power accounts for three-quarters of domestic electricity and coal power for the rest. One third of the electricity consumed must be imported from neighboring countries. All oil is imported. Firewood is the most common heat source.


Energy use per person

758 kilos of oil equivalent (2013)

Electricity consumption per person

543 kWh, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

12 020 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

0.8 tonnes (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

81.8 percent (2015)



Foreigners’ shareholding is further limited

The Government states that from 1 January 2014, foreigners will not be able to own the majority of the shares in companies operating in a number of areas reserved for domestic ownership. These include, for example, bakeries, brokerage firms, beauty salons, transport companies and service professions. Foreign companies are allowed up to five years to sell their shares to Zimbabwe.


Tsvangirai employees convicted

An aide to Tsvangirai is sentenced to 18 months imprisonment on condition. The convict was believed to have violated the electoral law when, in connection with the election, he had found a garbage can full of MDCs filled in for MDC and, as evidence, handed over a bundle of the ballots to the Electoral Commission.


Penalties are lifted

The EU raises sanctions against the state diamond company ZMDC.

parliamentary Coalition

The new parliament is assembled.

Opposition politicians are released

Authorities release about 20 opposition activists who have been jailed for two years. They are accused of killing a policeman in connection with the police dissolving an opposition meeting but being released when the Supreme Court finds that there is no sustainable evidence against them.

a government

Mugabe sets up a new government made up of old allies.


Mugabe swears in

Mugabe is sworn in as president for a new five-year term. He promises to work to improve the country’s economy and confirms that foreign companies will be forced to transfer 51 percent of ownership to black Zimbabweans (see June 2007 and March 2010).


Continued disagreement on election results

After the election, Tsvangirai announces that MDC-T is suspending cooperation with Zanu-PF and intends to boycott the work of the country’s governing body. MDC-T also appeals to the Constitutional Court and demands that the results of the presidential election be annulled and a new election held within 60 days. However, a few weeks after the election, MDC-T releases its claims on the grounds that the matter should not be dealt with fairly by the court. Nevertheless, the Court commented that Mugabe’s re-election was “free, fair and credible”.

Disputed election process

The African Union election observers, who have often been accused of turning a blind eye to misconduct, believe that the election was largely correct. South Africa congratulates Mugabe for the victory, while the United States said in a statement that the election process included so many irregularities that the result could hardly be seen as an expression of the Zimbabwean free will. The United Kingdom also criticizes the election.

The credibility of the election is questioned

The Western countries have not been allowed to monitor the election, but the national observers’ organization ZESN says that the credibility of the election can be “seriously questioned” because around one million people in the cities, where MDC-T has their strongest support, have not been able to exercise their voting rights, while very few are rejected in rural areas where Zanu-PF has its strongest attachments. According to MDC-T, a large number of voters have also been bribed to vote for Mugabe and Zanu-PF. Mugabe’s victory margin equals 940,000 votes.

cheating Allegations

Tsvangirai describes the election as “a father’s” and accuses Zanu-PF of extensive cheating.

Mugabe wins criticized election

The election is carried out as planned. The electoral movement will be calm and peaceful, but even before the voting begins, the MDC accuses the government of having manipulated the voting lengths which are reported to contain many duplicates and names of deceased persons. Criticism grows when the election commission announces that Mugabe won the presidential election with 61 percent of the vote, against 34 percent for Tsvangirai and 2.7 percent for Ncube. In the parliamentary elections, Zanu-PF is stated to have received 197 seats (160 elected in majority plus 37 proportionally appointed seats for women, see Political system), while MDC-T received 70 (49 + 21), MDC 2 (0 + 2) and an independent candidate 1 mandate (1 + 0).

Criticism of failed reforms

The MDC-T calls on the SADC Regional Cooperation Organization to try to persuade President Mugabe not to conduct the July 31 elections, as the required reforms have not been implemented. Amnesty International appeals to the SADC and the AU to ensure that the “state-staged violence” that characterized previous elections in Zimbabwe is not repeated.

New party partnerships

Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T enters into an agreement on technical election cooperation with the small parties Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn and Zanu-Ndonga, both formed by former close associates of President Mugabe. The MDC faction led by Ncube and now called only MDC (see January 2011) concludes a corresponding cooperation agreement with the previously influential party Zapu. In both cases, the parties promise to support each other’s candidates in the parliamentary and local elections so as not to divide the opposition’s votes.

The Constitutional Court determines the election date

The Constitutional Court rejects the appeals of the election date and states that the election must be conducted on July 31.


Selection is postponed

The Constitutional Court states that general elections must be held before August 1st. President Mugabe then announces elections until July 31, but opposition leader MorganTsvangirai requests deferral, citing preparation time is far too short. Mugabe then also suggests that the election be postponed for some time.


Constitution signed

Mugabe signs the proposal for the new constitution, which thus comes into force (see March and January above).


The EU facilitates sanctions

Following the referendum, the EU abolishes its sanctions for a further number of people and companies in the circle of President Mugabe (see also February 2012). The sanctions then include ten people, including President Mugabe, and two companies.

The Prime Minister’s staff arrested

The day after the referendum, the police raid Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s office and seize some of his co-workers, including one of his lawyers.

Yes in the referendum

On March 16, the referendum, which was preceded by some violence against political activists, will be carried out. Nearly 95 percent of those who participate vote in favor of the proposal. A little more than half of those entitled to vote participate in the election, which is more than political assessors predicted.

No to election observers

The government announces that no observers from EU countries or the US will be invited to this year’s referendum and parliamentary elections. According to the government, Western observers are not objective.


Radio sets are confiscated

The police are reported to have banned the possession of shortwave radios and confiscated them during raids against voluntary organizations. The ban is justified by the fact that independent radio stations transmit revolting propaganda via shortwave.

Constitution approved

Parliament approves the new constitution.


Consensus on Constitution

Prime Minister Tsvangirai and President Mugabe agree on the draft constitution (see July and August 2012). Mugabe states that a referendum will be held on the proposal and that elections will then be arranged if the proposal is approved.

Zimbabwe Energy and Environment Facts

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