The survey — a collaboration of American magazine, Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace, a US non-governmental organisation (NGO) — assessed 177 countries, looking at primarily inadequate health care, paltry infrastructure, and basic hunger.
The only countries that ranked worse than Zimbabwe are Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Chad.
Zimbabwe scored 106,3 out of 120, making it the fifth worst country in the survey, with the researchers saying there was a slight improvement from 2011, where the country had a mark of 107, with a higher mark indicating poorer performance.
However, in the previous year, Zimbabwe had ranked sixth, indicating a fall in rankings this year. Zimbabwe’s worst ever position was in 2009, where it scored 114 out of 120 and was only slightly better than Somalia.
“The economy has begun to expand again, growing by an estimated 6% in 2011, but Zimbabwe remains politically fragile. Mugabe’s power-sharing arrangement with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai remains more theory than reality,” reads an assessment of the country by the survey.
“The country’s future, and how much worse it will sink on this list, depends largely on who will rule when the 88-year-old Mugabe dies.”
Among the indicators where Zimbabwe fared the worst, was the rise of factionalised elites, in which state institutions are fragmented along ethnic, class, clan, racial or religious lines.
Zimbabwe scored 9,8 out 10 in the indicator, which surveyed the use of nationalist political rhetoric by ruling elites to confine power among themselves.