The Zimbabwean army originates from the armed movements of the struggle for liberation and has been involved in some conflicts in neighboring countries, including recent ones (such as the first Congo war). Its role is above all political: the military wing of the Zanu-Pf, made up of the fighters of the liberation struggle, is one of the keys to Mugabe’s permanence in power and in fact a force of control and contrast to the MDC, considered subservient to the interests of white landowners. The normalization of security management and the reorganization of the armed forces should be among the priorities for the transition to democracy. However, the 2013 elections postponed these key reforms for the umpteenth time.
A bumpy electoral path
According to indexdotcom, the government of national unity appointed on February 13, 2009 is the result of a long, complex mediation following the uncertain electoral result of March 29, 2008. After a campaign marked by pre-election intimidation and fraud, but freer than expected international observers, a clear verdict did not come out of the polls: Robert Mugabe obtained 43.2% of the votes, while the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, scored 47.9% of the votes. Since this was not an absolute majority of votes, Tsvangirai did not win the presidency in the first round. The second round of the presidential elections, held on June 27, 2008, was actually a sham election: following the arrest and detention of many supporters of his party, Tsvangirai withdrew the week before the elections and only Mugabe was allowed to vote. The election with a single candidate had the expected result and, starting from that moment, considering that Mugabe’s party did not hold a majority in parliament, a negotiated solution to the crisis was sought, which only ended on 29 January. 2009 with the appointment of the new government, after two agreements betweenZanu-Pf and Mdc. Only in 2013 did new negotiations between Mugabe and Tsvangirai lead to an agreement on a new constitutional framework, approved by a majority through a referendum. The drafting of a new Constitution made it possible to call new presidential and parliamentary elections. Despite the pressures of the international community and the Sadc to organize truly democratic and competitive elections, Mugabe unilaterally, and substantially surprisingly, set the date of the elections. Given the lack of cooperation, the international observers decided not to participate in the polls, thus not endorsing the result. In July Mugabe was reconfirmed as president and Zanu-Pfgot three quarters of seats in parliament. The DC did not accept the electoral results, denouncing fraud and fraud, and in September it did not attend the opening of parliamentary proceedings. Some analysts, however, underline that the victory of the outgoing president is not only due to the authoritarian management of power and the scarce funding available to the DC, but also to the trust that the population continues to place in Zanu-Pf, the party of the liberation, as opposed to the unknown novelty of the Mdc. Mugabe is expected to withdraw from political life before the next elections in 2018, the transition to a more liberal government is however in doubt and the power vacuum that the withdrawal of the old dictator would create at the top of the Zanu-Pf is feared.