Zimbabwe is usually remembered for its longtime and long-time president, Robert Mugabe. He rose to power as a leader of a successful independence struggle as early as 1980. Prior to that, the country known as Southern Rhodesiana and later Rhodesiana had previously been the private property of British billionaire Cecil Rhodes, the English crown colony and also the state declared independent in 1963.
After independence, a well-prosperous and thriving agricultural land has slipped into economic distress and outright famine in recent years as the government has tightened land reform and white farmers have had to hand over their farms to black landless, yet primarily the government’s own support forces. The population of a country the size of Finland is 13 million, of which almost two million live in the capital Harare. The largest ethnic groups are sonas and ndebelet.
Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe was re-elected in March with just over 56% of the vote. According to Countryaah website, national day of Zimbabwe is every April 18. 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 more difficult.
|Land area||390,757 km²|
|Residents per km²||37.2|
|Income per capita||2,300 USD|
|Currency||Zimbabwean dollar (suspended)|
|ISO 3166 code||ZW|
|Internet TLD||. or|
|Time zone UTC||+2|
|Geographic coordinates||20 00 S, 30 00 O|
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 election.
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.
The first decade of the 2000s was marked by political, economic and social crisis, with the emergence of authoritarian governance and with a disintegrating society – and growing opposition to the ZANU regime and President Mugabe. A tougher political line from Mugabe and the ZANU-PF government became clear after the proposal for a new constitution was rejected in 2000; his first political defeat. Then came the outrageous campaign of confiscation of farms owned by white families and a spiral of oppression and disintegration.
Despite growing discontent and opposition, as shown in the 2000 election, Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF managed to retain power until 2009, when a power-sharing agreement was signed with the MDC, and Morgan Tsvangirai was appointed prime minister for a unifying government. Mugabe retained his position despite national opposition and international pressure, striking a tougher political line than in the 1990s. In 2002, he announced that Zimbabwe was in its third chimurenga(liberation struggle), and land acquisition intensified, violence against the opposition and criticism of the West escalated as part of a clearer ideology in which ZANU-PF reverted to rhetoric and practice from the 1970s and 1980s. As an instrument of land acquisition and perpetration of violence, the so-called war veterans – many of whom were too young to have even participated in the war – were also used as a way to link the new struggle to the historical, which is the very foundation of Mugabe’s and ZANU’s PF’s power. The struggle for land was central to the liberation struggle, and was taken out as a central card in the 2000s, when thousands of white peasants were driven from their estates and the farms taken over to be handed over to blacks, most often to the ruling elite and its allies.. The land question was also used in the rhetoric against Britain, which was increasingly portrayed as an opponent – responsible for colonization and unwilling to fund land reform. The West, and the local business community, were also accused of being behind the MDC.