May 8, 2006
Life expectancy is an important measure of the well-being of society. A new report by the World Health Organization shows a rapidly declining life expectancy for the people of Zimbabwe. Women in Zimbabwe have the lowest life expectancy in the world: age 34, down from 36 in 2002; that of men is 37 years. Child mortality is another important measure. One in eight children in Zimbabwe never reaches the age of five, compared to one in 13 children in 1989.
There are several reasons for the deteriorating situation, based on poverty and disease – the gift of imperialism. The HIV/AIDS epidemic and re-emergence of tuberculosis, along with the lack of drugs to fight it, weaken the entire population. The overall economic crisis has driven health care professionals out of the country. Those who remain are overwhelmed with huge caseloads.
The economy is in shambles. Seven out of ten Zimbabweans are unemployed. Though historically Zimbabwe farmers have grown essential crops to feed the people, including beef, vegetables and fruit, most food is now imported. Inflation is out of control – 800% in March and more than 900% in April. The price of a loaf of bread can go up by 60% overnight. One loaf now costs 90,000 Zimbabwe dollars. There is an acute shortage of food, fuel and jobs. People spend hours in line for handouts of necessities of life.
Zimbabwe is not alone in having a life expectancy in the 30s. Swaziland’s life expectancy is 38 years; Sierra Leone’s is less than 40 years of age. The ten countries with the lowest life expectancy are in Africa.
This is what imperialism has done to Africa. Great Britain, once the colonial power in Rhodesia, which became Zimbabwe, exploited its natural resources: gold, cola, nickel and large commercial farms. The wealth went to Britain; the black population of Zimbabwe was left impoverished.
Today the U.S. and Western capitalists are predators in Africa. All that Britain and the U.S. offer are usurious loans, weapon sales and the plunder of the natural resources of Africa.