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

Video 2nd American Reportedly Killed in Syria

Local television report says Abdirahman Muhumed left the area to fight for Islamic State militants More

WHO Fears Ebola Outbreak Could Infect 20,000 People

World Health Organization says outbreak 'continues to accelerate' but that most cases are concentrated in a few local areas More

Angelina Jolie Marries Brad Pitt

Actors wed in small private ceremony Saturday in France 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.
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