Democracy and rights
This text is under preparation and will be
Zimbabwe served as a one-party state under
ex-president Robert Mugabe and his party Zanu-PF's
government, from independence 1980 to 2017 with the
exception of a few years of co-government with the
opposition. After a power struggle in the fall of 2017,
the military intervened and Mugabe was able to retire.
His successor Emmerson Mnangagwa promised, among other
things, to address all the country's acute problems, but
the crisis has worsened instead.
After President Mugabe's and Zanu-PF's election
victory in 2013, Zimbabwe became a once again one-party
state, where important institutions such as the
military, police and judiciary were, to a large extent,
openly allied with the Zanu-PF government. Mugabe's
authoritarian rule continued, as did the financial
problems. In early 2017, after extensive drought, 90
percent of the population reported missing jobs.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Zimbabwe, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Meanwhile, the opposition became increasingly
divided. Leading members of the largest opposition party
MDC broke with party leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Two of
the most prominent, Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma,
formed new parties.
A power struggle also occurred within Zanu-PF, where
the question of who would succeed the aged Mugabe became
increasingly fierce. At a party congress in 2014,
longtime Vice President Joice Mujuru and several other
leading party members were ousted. Justice Minister
Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeded Mujuru as vice president
while retaining his post of minister. Many saw Mnangagwa
as a natural successor to Mugabe, but at the same time
Mugabe's wife, the slightly over 40-year-old Grace,
maintained an ever-higher profile within the party and
assumed the aim of succeeding her husband.
The contradictions were kept alive by Mugabe refusing
to appoint any successor. He turned 93 in the summer of
2017 and claimed to continue his post until his death.
The military takes control
The battle between Grace Mugabe and Mnangagwa
escalated in the fall of 2017 since Mnangagwa became ill
during a political meeting. Some of Mnangagwa's
supporters stated that he had been poisoned by ice cream
from a company owned by Grace Mugabe and called it an
assassination attempt. The allegations of poisoning were
dismissed by President Mugabe, but Mnangagwa challenged
Mugabe by standing up (see Calendar). When Mugabe
reformed his government in early October, Mnangagwa and
his allies within the government were removed from their
ministerial posts. In early November, Mnangagwa was also
dismissed from the post of vice president at the urging
of Grace Mugabe.
Mugabe's intervention in favor of his wife apparently
became too much for the military. Since his time as
Minister of Defense, Mnangagwa had good relations with
the country's army chief General Chiwenga, and in
mid-November, the army entered and took control of
Harare. Mnangagwa had then fled the country and urged
his followers to overthrow the president. The military
put Mugabe in house arrest. When Zanu-PF kicked him out
as a party leader and initiated a judicial process to
dismiss him as president, he agreed to resign.
On November 25, Mnangagwa was installed as new
president. Six months later, in July 2018, elections
were held for Parliament and the presidential post. Zanu-PF
retained its dominance in parliament and Mnangagwa won a
tight victory in the presidential election over MDC
candidate Nelson Chamisa (Tsvangirai had died in early
2018). The MDC objected to the result, claiming that the
Election Commission had manipulated the result to the
advantage of the ruling party, just as in Mugabe's time.
The announcement of Zanu-PF's victory triggered riots in
the capital during which six people were shot dead by
The crisis is worse despite reforms
When he came to power, President Mnangagwa promised
to re-establish relations with the outside world after
years of international isolation under Mugabe. He also
swore to do something about the widespread corruption
and to attract foreign investors who had fled the
country. This would create new jobs.
Mnangagwa announced that the white farmers who had
lost their farms during Mugabe's violent land reform
(see Modern History) would receive compensation and
promised that no more occupations of farms would take
place. He further amended the law that prevented foreign
companies from owning more than 49 percent of the shares
in companies in Zimbabwe.
But to the extent that the Zimbabweans began to hope
for better times, they were disappointed. Unemployment
remained at the same sky-high level, while basic food
and fuel prices soared during the fall of 2018.
Electricity shortages led to daily power outages of up
to 18 hours.
When the president announced in January 2019 that
gasoline prices would more than double, protests erupted
across the country. At least 17 people lost their lives
when the protests were injured. Police and military were
also charged with torture and rape in connection with
the unrest. More than 1100 people were arrested.
Leaders and activists have also been arrested before
other protests and in several cases demonstrations have
been banned (see Calendar).
At the end of summer 2019, the government received
stinging criticism from Amnesty International. President
Mnangagwa and his government were indicted in a report
that during their first year in power, he had
mercilessly and systematically violated human rights by
cutting freedom of expression, the right of assembly and
the right to organize.
Follow the ongoing development of the Calendar.
READING TIP - read more about
Zimbabwe in UI's web magazine Foreign
magazine: The wave of
democratization has come to an end in Africa
Most importantly, hope has returned in Zimbabwe
FACTS - POLITICS
Republic of Zimbabwe / Republic of Zimbabwe
republic, unitary state
Most important parties with mandates in the
Zanu-PF 180, MDC Alliance 88, National People's Party
1, Independent 1 (2018)
Main parties with mandates in the second most
Zanu-PF 197, MDC-T 70, MDC 2, Independent 1 (2013)
just over 86 and 83 percent in the 2018 presidential
and parliamentary elections, respectively; about 54% in
the 2013 presidential and parliamentary elections
presidential and parliamentary elections 2023
Three zeros are deleted from the currency's value - a few months earlier,
inflation has risen above 1,000 percent.
New opposition leader
The breaker faction in MDC chooses Arthur Mutambara as its leader and is then