News / Africa

Zimbabwe Politics Grows More Volatile During 2010

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, right chats to Prime Minister Morgan Tsavangirai during their end of year press conference at State House in Harare, Dec 20, 2010
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, right chats to Prime Minister Morgan Tsavangirai during their end of year press conference at State House in Harare, Dec 20, 2010

Multimedia

Audio

Zimbabwe's appears to be in for more political turmoil with talk of fresh elections earlier this month at the conference of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF Party. Most Zimbabweans indicate they do not want elections next year because they may interfere with the political stability and economic progress made since the unity government came to power nearly two years ago.

Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change have been discussing elections in the final months of 2010. Much of the talk on the streets of Harare is very different from the noise coming from political leaders.

Blessings Sibanda works for a Harare company that sells agricultural supplies. He said that for him and many others, 2010 was one of the better years since Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis began a decade ago.

"We have seen a little improvement, increasing capacity and seen it in government where revenues have gone up to a point where government has given salary increases for next year, which means the festive season is going to be better, merrier," said Sibanda.

He said with a measure of economic stability many people now have more disposable incomes and will be able to buy extras for their families during holiday period, especially food. He and others say the talk of elections is worrying.

"The only damper will be after this festive season [if] we go into election mode and it will scuttle some of the benefits we have seen from the stabilization," said Sibanda.

Earlier in the year, Tsvangirai and Mugabe were getting on much better than at the end of the year.

In September, in Johannesburg, Tsvangirai described the slow progress and many frustrations of the unity government, but said people should remember the despair and catastrophe of Zimbabwe before it came to power.

"We are making progress. Zimbabwe is moving forward, it is slow, but it is there. We have health workers and medicines in our hospitals, teachers and books in our schools, food in our supermarkets, water in our taps and fuel in our petrol stations."

Tsvangirai later became angry when Mugabe awarded several top civil servant jobs to ZANU-PF supporters instead of to the MDC, as spelled out in the political agreement.

More important than allocation of these jobs, according to many political analysts, was the lack of progress in electoral reform and better governance, so that the next polls would be undisputedly free and fair.

A political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, Eldred Masunungure, said he was thoroughly disheartened by the state of the unity government at year end.

"I would say the coalition government is in a very perilous state and the marriage between the old regime ZANU-PF and its coalition partners, the two MDC formations, is approaching a stage of irretrievably breaking down," said Masunungure.

Tsvangirai ended the year also talking about elections. He said he wants a re-run of presidential elections because they were disputed by violence at the last polls in  2008.  

Elections would end the inclusive government, but the local public affairs watchdog, Veritas, said the constitution does not allow a presidential election to be held on its own.

Veteran political analyst, Brian Raftopoulos, who is also director of the Solidarity Peace Trust, said senior security officials within ZANU-PF, whom he called securocrats, have strong influence within ZANU-PF. They want elections to protect the massive assets they acquired under Mugabe's rule since 1980 independence.

"They would feel endangered if any other party came to power because of the massive abuses they have inflicted on Zimbabweans over the last 30 years," said Raftopoulos. "They have a terrible history of terror, torture, violence, throughout  post-colonial Zimbabwe."

ZANU-PF ministers in the inclusive government introduced controversial laws in early 2010 that say black Zimbabweans must own 51 percent of any company worth more than $500,000.

There was a storm of protest and the unity government moved quickly to water down and delay the so-called indigenization laws. By year-end no action had been taken beyond the continued threats from ZANU-PF leaders.

At the ZANU- PF conference, Mugabe linked indigenization to the targeted sanctions by the United States and European Union against senior ZANU-PF leaders and about a dozen mostly state-owned companies.

"In some cases we must read the riot act to the British and others, and say to them, this is only 51 percent we are taking," said Mugabe. "Unless you remove sanctions we will go for 100 percent."

Despite Mr. Mugabe's threats about indigenization, the unity Cabinet recently allowed foreigners to buy a 53 percent stake in a state company, the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company.

The Southern African Development Community, which mediated and guaranteed the power-sharing government agreement, has not commented on the election talk by either  Mugabe or Tsvangirai. SADC indicated last month it will hold a meeting in January to discuss the unity government's progress in implementing the political agreement.

Mugabe relishes criticizing London and Washington, but he has shown in the past that he can be influenced by SADC. Many people are wondering what action SADC will take if Mugabe unilaterally dissolves parliament and declares elections next year before a new constitution can be put in place as called for by the power-sharing accord.

Raftopoulos is concerned SADC is running out of patience with Zimbabwe's political in-fighting.

"SADC in a sense are looking to bring this to some kind of finality, and so are all three parties [in the Zimbabwean government]. From SADC's point of view they would like an election that is reasonably free and fair that they can sell as legitimate," said Raftopoulos.

Raftopoulos said Zimbabwe has a long way to go in order to have reasonably free and fair elections.

Despite slow progress in 2010, businessmen are enjoying the stability that came with the inclusive government and believe 2011 is too early for elections.

The managing director of a chain of Harare retail shops, Paul Hanyani, says recent year-end bonuses for civil servants have improved sales and says the economy has improved.

"From the experience we had in our country, we are not yet ready for such kind of a process because we have seen things that are not good, violence and so on, retrogressiveness in terms of the economy. Personally I think we needed more time before we get to such a process again," said Hanyani.

Zimbabwe's unity government has no limit to its existence, but the constitution says elections must be held every five years - or by March 2013.

Experts say progress in implementing the political agreement, most of which is now enshrined in the constitution, is due for review before any of the three political parties in the unity government can unilaterally bring the inclusive government to an end.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid