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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid