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

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs