Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe was re-elected in March
with just over 56% of the vote. According to
Countryaah website, the election was preceded by
violence, usually directed against the opposition, and
political manipulation. By means of legislative changes,
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's opportunities became
In the cities, the opposition's strongholds, the number
of polling stations was reduced so that not everyone could
vote. In addition, city residents were required proof, in
the form of e.g. electricity and water bills, having been
resident in the district for at least one year. In the
countryside, local leaders, almost all loyal to Mugabe,
decided who could vote. The opposition had many elections
stopped by police because of new security laws and the
distribution of election material became more difficult. A
new law also made it criminal to criticize the president,
which in practice made opposition speech impossible.
Of the 12,500 proposed local election observers from
independent organizations, only 470 were approved.
Journalists from Sweden was refused a visa during the
The election was approved by most African observers but
was judged by Western organizations. The Commonwealth shut
down Zimbabwe for a year due to all the irregularities.
Morgan Tsvangirai's party MDC appealed the election results
to the Supreme Court, claiming that over 400,000 votes -
equivalent to Mugabe's victory margin - had either
disappeared or changed afterwards.
Immediately after the election victory, Mugabe
accelerated the confiscation of white-owned agriculture.
Almost 5,000 farms were seized, but without any new owners.
The crushing of white agriculture was considered to be an
important factor behind the growing food shortage. Around
six million Zimbabweans were estimated to be at risk of
starvation. The United Nations Food Organization World Food
Program (WFP) estimated that by the beginning of 2003, more
than five million people would need food.
However, bureaucracy and political obstacles made
deliveries more difficult. Private organizations were
forbidden to distribute food. The government was accused of
exploiting the state control of food aid to accelerate
starvation in areas dominated by the opposition.
The economic situation deteriorated continuously. GDP
fell by almost 12% during the year and during the autumn the
inflation rate was up 140%. Almost 70% were unemployed. The
value of the currency collapsed. Officially, a Zimbabwean
dollar corresponded to US $ 55, but in the “parallel”
market, a US dollar at the end of the year cost about 1,500
Zimbabwean dollars. The state budget for 2003 was based on
the official rate, which prompted economic analysts to warn
of worsening chaos.