News / Africa

Zimbabwe Anticipates Calmer Elections Than 2008

Zimbabwe Elections
Zimbabwe Elections
TEXT SIZE - +
Anita Powell
— Zimbabwe holds elections on Wednesday, five years after the controversial 2008 vote, which was marred by violence and allegations of vote-rigging.

The southern African nation was awash in violence and instability, the economy was wracked by shortages and hyperinflation, and throughout, longtime President Robert Mugabe stood firm in his position that he had won the disputed vote.
 
Five years later, the picture in many ways looks similar. Mugabe is running for president again and is again being challenged by Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change. And again, rights groups say forces loyal to the president have intimidated and attacked voters, while the state broadcaster openly favors Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.
 
But there have been some changes as well. For the past five years, Zimbabwe has been ruled by a lasting, if uneasy, power-sharing government consisting of ZANU-PF and the MDC.

Voters in March approved a new constitution which, among other things, limits all future presidents to two five-year terms. The referendum vote went relatively peacefully.
 
Even the former opposition has conceded Zimbabwe is faring better during this campaign than last time around. Kumbirai Muchemwa, a South Africa-based spokesman for the MDC, credits his party for that. But he hopes the world has not forgotten his country.
 
“Generally, Zimbabwe doesn’t seem to be a hopeless basket case, like it was in 2008. ... I don’t think the world is tired of the crisis in Zimbabwe," Muchemwa said. "The world is keen for Zimbabwe to move forward and take its place among the family of nations.”
 
Sue Valentine, Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, says there have been reforms, and that the media climate has opened up somewhat with the addition of independent newspapers, although state media remains dominant.

She says it has further helped that Western countries have taken more of a hands-off approach to Zimbabwe's problems.
 
"And politically, the two warring parties have been forced to work together," Valentine said. "It’s not been a happy alliance, clearly. But there has been a level of, I think, engagement and political debate. Whether we’re seeing things as quieter because I think that there’s also been a stepping back -- by the U.K., the U.S., the West in general -- to allow the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, SADC, to take the lead to speak with the key players in Zimbabwe and to maintain pressure on them to follow due process.”

This time around, the concern might come after the vote, and Valentine says the world needs to pay attention.
 
“The word is that there are going to be any number of bunglings, and ballot papers are not going to be there and polling stations might open late," she said. "I think that there should be real close international attention on Zimbabwe. One of the difficulties is that countries that would like to send observers, have been denied that right. But I think there needs to be a very close scrutiny as to what happens."

Through all of the changes, the reforms and election rhetoric, one thing in Zimbabwe seems resistant to change. That would be Mugabe himself. The president, who is 89 years old, is running for another term. Under the new constitution, he could conceivably remain in office until 2023, just a few months short of his 100th birthday.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid