Zimbabwe. The political year was dominated by the July presidential and parliamentary elections, which once again became a victory for incumbent President Robert Mugabe and his party ZANUPF, which has ruled the country since 1980.
At the beginning of the year, a new draft constitution was tabled by the President and the country’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who have formally shared power over the last five years. In March, a referendum was held in which 95% of residents voted in favor of the change in the law, which, among other things, limits the presidential power.
Although the new constitution does not allow a president to govern the country for more than two terms of office for a total of ten years, Mugabe, who has held the post for the past 33 years, could stand in the presidential election at the end of July. The reason was that the law did not apply retroactively.
Prior to the election, 1st TV was launched, the first independent TV channel aimed at a Zimbabwean audience. According to Countryaah, the channel is broadcast via satellite from South Africa as independent media is banned by Zimbabwe’s regime.
Just as in the 2008 elections, Mugabe’s main challenger became the incumbent Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who belongs to the largest opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Although many showed their support for Tsvangirai and openly criticized Mugabe before the election, the election results were once again to the advantage of the incumbent president. The day after the election, the State Election Commission announced that Mugabe had won 61% of the vote against 34% for Tsvangirai. In addition, according to the Commission, Mugabe’s party ZANU-PF had received 158 out of a total of 210 seats in Parliament.
The election result was strongly questioned by both domestic election observers and foreign assessors who testified to widespread electoral fraud. Among other things, there were reports that a large number of voters had been denied voting while others were allowed to do so several times. In addition, according to the opposition party MDC, a large number of voters had been voted to vote for Mugabe and ZANU-PF. As a protest against the victory, the opposition announced that they would contest the election exit in court and end its cooperation with the government.
Despite the many signs of election fraud, Robert Mugabe was sworn in as president for the seventh time in mid-August. Attending the ceremony were around 40 world leaders, while MDC boycotted the event. Significant actors such as the African Union (AU) and the South African Cooperation Organization (SADC) had approved the elections, while criticism from the European Union (EU), among others, was fierce.
In an effort to strengthen state power and continue the expropriation of white landowners’ land without financial compensation, Mugabe proposed a constitutional amendment, which was put to a referendum in January 2000, however it was rejected by 55% of the electorate. The result was seen as a punishment for the government’s inability to reduce unemployment above 50% or inflation above 70%.
In March, 420 white goods were occupied by former ZANU partisans. The landowners’ association accused Mugabe of organizing the occupations to act as a smokescreen for the failed land distribution. At the same time, the association pointed out that the government itself owns DKK 2 million. acres of arable land that is not included in land reform but is fallow. Mugabe replied that the country did not have the funds to divide the land into smaller plots or to secure the necessary infrastructure in the form of water and roads.
The violent occupations of the white estates continued in the following months, and dozens of people were killed. Lender organizations and countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom increased pressure on the government to stop it from expropriating. In May, as part of his party’s electoral program, Mugabe declared that the country should not succumb to international pressure and that expropriations would not be halted or abolished. “This land is ours and we are taking it,” the president declared.
A few weeks before the election, the government decided to drastically reduce the number of local election observers from the Commission to monitor the election. The number was reduced from 16,000 to 4,000, equivalent to just 1 observer for each of the country’s 4,000 polling stations. Of the 500 foreign election observers who arrived in the country, only 200 were authorized as observers. Yet the ruling party gained just a majority in the June 2000 elections. Mugabe’s party achieved 62 seats against 57 for the opposition, which was unified in the Democratic Change Movement. A small independent party conquered a place. Mugabe and his party had ruled virtually without opposition since 1980.
In October, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe set up a Free Trade Area under the designation of the East African Common Market (COMESA). The signatory countries pledged to allow educated labor to move freely across the borders of 2004, the generally free movement of inhabitants of 2014 and a currency union of 2025.
In 2001, Mugabe became the target of numerous allegations of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe – including violations of freedom of expression. British media and various NGOs pointed out that lawyers and journalists had been forced to leave the country and that several opposition politicians had been murdered. The Congolese commission investigating the assassination of Laurent Kabila in January 2001 identified Zimbabwe and Angola as the ideologically responsible for the assassination.