The London-based Economist Intelligence Unit has rated Harare the worst of 140 cities worldwide in which to live, drawing scorn from officials in Zimbabwe's capital.
Researchers excluded cities in war zones in Libya, Iraq and elsewhere.
The report said Harare’s chronic water and power outages contributed to a mere 38 percent “livability rating” in the study.
The Economist Intelligence Unit said the threat of civil unrest, poor health care services and sketchy, overcrowded public transport were also serious drawbacks to life in Harare. The group said phone and Internet services in Harare are sub-standard as well.
The EIU rating predicted continuing "bleak prospects" for the Harare population of nearly two million people. It said quality housing was available only to the wealthy, and although quality private education is available it is costly and drains teaching talent from public schools.
Livability ratings for Sub-Saharan Africa cities averaged 50 percent against 92 percent in Western Europe and 91 percent in North America.
The annual survey advises multinational companies on the level of hardship employees face and recommends pay adjustments for those who move to cities where living conditions present "excessive physical hardship or a notably unhealthy environment."
A livability rating given as 80 to 100 percent means there are few challenges to daily living standards such as housing, health, education and transportation. Fifty percent or less means most aspects of living are "severely restricted," the EIU said.
Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda scoffed at the report saying the respected research group in its latest release had fallen down on the job.
"I've traveled a lot around the world and I do not believe that we have really hit rock bottom for us to be called the worst city to live in," Masunda declared.
"In fact, Harare is the most sought after city, especially by members of the diplomatic corps who after completing their stint here do not want to leave. We have many of them, including a former British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, living here because they cannot imagine being somewhere else," Masunda argued.
Deputy Minister of Information and Harare Central lawmaker Murisi Zwizwai echoed Masunda's sentiments, saying Harare retains its "Sunshine City" status due to hard work by the Movement for Democratic Change-led council to restore public services.