News / Africa

    Transition to Democracy Proves Difficult for Zimbabwe

    Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (file)
    Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (file)

    Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he and his colleagues in the unity government must continue to rebuild the country, despite difficulties and slow progress towards democracy.  Mr. Tsvangirai and other Zimbabwean leaders were in Johannesburg for a recent investment conference.

    The primary goal of Zimbabwe's transitional unity government is to stabilize the country and create a suitable environment for free and fair elections.

    No one is sure when the elections will take place and some analysts fear elections without reconciliation will spark a return to the political violence in which about 200 of Morgan Tsvangirai's supporters were killed during the last polls in March 2008.

    Glacial pace

    But, some ministers in Prime Minister Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change say Zimbabwe is slowly moving forward from the chaos and violence of the past 10 years.

    One of the major difficulties faced by Zimbabweans is an erratic power supply resulting in lengthy power cuts.  This has severely constrained the possibility of rebuilding mining, industry and agriculture.

    The Movement for Democratic Change energy minister in the unity government, Elton Mangoma is upbeat about new investment in electricity.  He says Zimbabwe will be self sufficient in power in three years through repairs and increased output from existing power stations and investment in new ones.

    "We have already lined up investors, it is all sorted out," Mangoma said. "And then two greenfield investments, in coal, one at Sengwa and that is a 2,400 megawatt project, with a European country coming in."

    Mangoma, like Mr. Tsvangirai, was arrested and beaten in detention under the previous ZANU-PF government.  Mangoma says it is more important to try to rebuild Zimbabwe than to dwell on President Robert Mugabe and the past.

    "Do you fight Mugabe every day or do you focus on achieving your objective?  You have to commit yourself," Mangoma said. "We say we think we can work this thing through, and surely we have better insight.  It is not out of stupidity.  You do not achieve the growth rates we are getting if you are stupid ."

    Exodus

    During the political crisis of the past 10 years, ZANU-PF closed several newspapers, many journalists were arrested and some fled the country.  One of those affected was Trevor Ncube, a Zimbabwean publisher who moved to South Africa several years ago.

    Under the unity government he is now regularly back in Zimbabwe and recently launched a new daily newspaper, Newsday.

    Ncube says one of the most pressing problems facing Zimbabwe is the lack of skills because so many people have left the country due to the political crisis.

    "There simply is not the depth of skill in Zimbabwe," Ncube said. "The banking sector, the insurance industry and so forth is suffering.  As a result quality of products, quality of service is lower than it has ever been in Zimbabwe."

    He says many who left the country are nervous to return in case the inclusive government fails.

    "A lot of people do not have confidence that what has been started is sustainable, that there will not be developments around the corner that are going to reverse the situation so that they are back to square one, having to deal with same issues that caused them to leave the country," Ncube said.

    Black vs white

    Although political violence has declined under the inclusive government and there are fewer partisan arrests, the situation for white commercial farmers and their workers has worsened.

    Official statistics show that 90 percent of white commercial farmers, whose products provided 40 percent of Zimbabwe's foreign currency, have been evicted since 2000.

    Pressure group Justice for Agriculture's John Worsley-Worswick said former commercial farm workers, now employed by new farmers who were given white-owned land, are among the poorest people in Zimbabwe.

    "Those that remained internally displaced on commercial farms, who were forced to work for new farmers, were forced into a cashless existence where the work they were doing was paid for in kind," Worsley-Worswick said. "They were getting a couple of slices of bread, and tea a day, and at the end of the month if they worked a whole month, they would get a bucket of maize."

    He said farm workers without cash cannot pay for health care or education for their children or buy subsidized food that is available on the former commercial farms.  He said these farm workers are "slaves."

    High hopes

    Mr. Tsvangirai says although he is regularly disappointed by ZANU-PF's behavior within the inclusive government, there is hope for the future.

    "Zimbabwe is moving forward," Tsvangirai said. "We have health workers and medicines in our hospitals, teachers and books in our schools, food in our supermarkets and granaries, water in our taps and fuel in our petrol stations.  We have a dependable and stable multi-currency regime, a single digit inflation.  And we have expected growth of over seven percent this year."

    Last weekend, as people gathered in Harare and second city Bulawayo to discuss a new constitution, there was a spurt of political violence and arrests.  Members of the public who attended some of the meetings blamed Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF for attacking and injuring some members of the public, throwing stones and aggressively disrupting meetings.  Some journalists say they had to flee from ZANU-PF activists and the police.

    Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai agreed two years ago that Zimbabwe needed a new constitution before new elections.

    After the weekend violence and disruptions of public meetings on the constitution, Mr. Tsvangirai said that he will not take his MDC party into any new elections if there is political violence.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.