News / Africa

Zimbabwe Anticipates Calmer Elections Than 2008

Zimbabwe Elections
Zimbabwe Elections
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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid