On April 18, 2010, it was 30 years since Zimbabwe became independent. President Robert Mugabe has been in power throughout this period, despite the fact that several of the elections have been highly debated, especially because the use of violence has been extreme in many election campaigns.
Since the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party in September 1999, most observers believe that Mugabe and his party ZANU (pf) have been the second largest party measured in support, even after the MDC split in two in October 2005. I In the March 2008 elections, this was so obvious that it was impossible to announce anything other than a victory for the opposition. The MDC parties led by Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) became the largest party in the National Assembly.
Tsvangirai got more votes than Mugabe in the presidential election, but according to the Election Commission, not a pure majority, as other candidates got almost 10 percent. Thus, it was re-elected. An outburst of violence by the ruling party with support from all parts of the state apparatus, especially the army, forced Tsvangirai to resign before the re-election. The international community, including the SADC, forced negotiations that led to a unifying government with all three parties elected in the National Assembly in February 2009. However, there is great frustration over many of the promises in the agreement that laid the foundation for the GPA has not been fulfilled, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the previous opposition parties have no power in this constellation.
According to Abbreviation Finder, Zimbabwe’s economy has for the past 10 years gone from being one of Africa’s largest to one of the smallest. The official figures are so unreliable that Zimbabwe dropped out of the latest UNDP living conditions report. Corruption is on the rise and the Treasury is empty. Despite this, ZANU (pf) through the state has built up informal violence structures in addition to the formal violence apparatus in the army and police. These include the so-called war veterans, who have served as a parallel army since 2000, and the National Youth Service (NYS), introduced in 2002, which is in effect a youth militia for use in electoral battles.
The country’s economy was based around three main pillars: agriculture, mining and tourism. A land reform program used to award ZANU (pf) s and army leaders has ruined agriculture. Tourism has been greatly reduced as a result of violence, currency chaos and price controls, while regular theft from corporate currency accounts by the National Bank, combined with totally unrealistic price controls and nationalization threats, has reduced mining to a fraction of what it was in the 1990s. Diamond discoveries in Chiadzwa, Manicaland, which have the potential to become the world’s largest diamond production, show this clearly. The army has shut down the area, the former owners have been forced out and new licenses have been given to new companies with unclear ownership structure, but with alleged links to political and military leaders. Faria Maguwu, the head of The Center for Research and Development, the only local area organization to monitor the situation, was arrested on June 2 and placed in custody for over a month. He was thus prevented from attending the Kimberley Process meeting on the situation.
The new unifying government has led to improvements in the financial situation and relations with the donors. Prime Minister Gideon Gono used local currency printing to maintain loyalty to the police and the military as it soared, in a way that brought Zimbabwe’s inflation to a level not previously seen in Africa. The new Finance Minister Tendai Biti (MDC-T) has, through his neutralization of Gono, become a favorite of donors. The first step was to remove the local currency, which stabilized the country’s economy, made the National Bank and thus Gono far less powerful and at the same time normalized the country’s inflation. The donors have since 2002 put most of the state into state aid as a result of the human rights situation in the country. With the new government, negotiations are under way to normalize relations. World Bank,
Zimbabwe was one of the most developed countries in Africa at the time of liberation, and in the first decade the country developed further, covering all basic needs of large sections of the population. At the turn of the century, the level of education in Zimbabwe was the highest in Africa. This has changed dramatically, to a situation where Zimbabwe rages to the last spot on most global social media outlets.
The situation in relation to human rights was critical right from the liberation in 1980. It became clear early on that Mugabe’s goal was a one-party state. The main opposition party in the first elections, ZAPU, was forced to join ZANU (pf) following a genocide against the Ndebele people in the south, where the opposition gained the most from its support. It is alleged that in the period 1982-87, up to 20,000 ndebele were killed.
The unification government has led to some improvement. The hunger crisis is over and one of the worst cholera outbreaks ever is under control. Hospitals and schools, which were mostly closed in the period 2002-2009, are again opened, although school fees and high deductibles make access difficult for many.
In recent years, political activity and organizational life have slowly but surely been criminalized. The Media Laws of 2002 and the Freedom of Meeting Act of 2001 are among a large number of laws used to suppress the population and have led to no longer any free press of importance in the country. Zimbabwe has criminalized poverty by banning informal sector through Operation Murambatsvina in 2005.
It is disappointing that after more than one year of the unifying government, no changes have been made to any of the laws restricting human rights and democracy. It is also disappointing that the police and army are as ZANU-friendly as before, and attacks on MDC supporters and activists in trade unions and civil society are taking place as before.
In January 2010, the farmers’ general secretary Gertrude Hambira was forced to flee the country after the organization released a report and film claiming that the situation of the land workers is worse under the new government than ever. The Secretary General of ZimRights, Okay Machisa, was arrested in March 2010 and forced to flee the country in connection with a photo exhibition on the violence between the 2008 elections. to be shut down by the police.
However, there is an ever-growing discussion on the Internet and also in cultural life.
The next election, probably in 2011, will be crucial. If the unifying government manages to facilitate the conditions for a free election and the election result is accepted, many believe that the road will be brighter for the country. However, there is strong fear that one will see increased repression and violence in the period leading up to the election.
Area: 390 757 km2 (25th largest)
Population: 12.5 million
Population density: 32 per km2
Urban population: 37 percent
Largest city: Harare – approx. 1.6 million
GDP per capita: USD 314
Economic growth: –12.6 percent
HDI location: Missing data