Today The Heritage Foundation hosted Shadow Justice Minister and Member of Parliament in Zimbabwe, The Honorable David Coltart (watch his address here). Coltart gave a stark but hopeful assessment on the prospect of a free and fair poll this March and long-term democracy and economic growth in his country. Like many African countries, Zimbabwe faces an uphill climb in establishing democratic rule due in large part to the absence of economic freedom in the country.

The Heritage Foundation’s 2008 Index of Economic Freedom ranks Zimbabwe the 155th most free country out of 157. When President Robert Mugabe came to power one of his first acts was to nationalize much of the country’s farmland. He has since instituted price controls for key commodities and subsidized friendly industries. The result has been the utter collapse of the country’s economy and the crushing of internal dissent to his regime.