Zimbabwe: Background 2016. 10. 21.¢  Zimbabwe: Background Congressional Research Service Summary Zimbabwe¢â‚¬â„¢s

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  • CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

    Zimbabwe: Background

    Lauren Ploch Analyst in African Affairs

    July 8, 2010

    Congressional Research Service

    7-5700 www.crs.gov

    RL32723

  • Zimbabwe: Background

    Congressional Research Service

    Summary Zimbabwe’s prospects appeared promising in 1980, as it gained independence after a long liberation war. Rising inflation and unemployment bred discontent in the 1990s and led in 1999 to the formation of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The new party surprised many with its initial success, campaigning against a 2000 referendum that would have legalized the president’s continued rule, made government officials immune from prosecution, and allowed the uncompensated seizure of white-owned land for redistribution to black farmers. The referendum failed, and the MDC won nearly half the seats in the 2000 parliamentary election. Members of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party subsequently took numerous, often undemocratic actions to bolster their power.

    President Mugabe’s government was seen in the past decade as autocratic and repressive by its critics, and its human rights record has been poor. The government suppressed freedom of speech and assembly, and many contend that the ruling party restricted access to food, already scarce, in opposition areas. The MDC, divided over how to respond, split into two factions in 2005, hampering its ability to challenge the ruling party. Reports of political violence rose sharply after Zimbabwe’s March 2008 elections, when, for the first time since independence, Mugabe’s party lost its majority in the National Assembly. Mugabe’s re-election as president in the June runoff was viewed as illegitimate by the United States and the United Nations Secretary-General, among others. In September 2008, after several weeks of negotiations, Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing arrangement aimed at resolving the political standoff. As part of the deal, Tsvangirai became prime minister of a new coalition government in February 2009, and cabinet positions have been divided among the parties. Some observers remain skeptical that the MDC will be able to implement major political reforms through the arrangement, although there has been some progress, particularly on the economic front, and some donors have begun to cautiously reengage. The cost of rebuilding the country’s economy may be over $8 billion.

    Zimbabwe’s economic output decreased dramatically between 1998 and 2008. Official inflation rose above 200,000,000% in 2008, and although the economy has since stabilized, unemployment remains estimated at more than 90%. An adult HIV prevalence rate of over 14% has contributed to a sharp drop in life expectancy, and a nationwide cholera outbreak from late 2008 through early 2009 resulted in almost 100,000 infections and over 4,300 deaths. The number of Zimbabweans requiring food aid has declined, from an estimated 5 million in 2008 to 2 million in 2010, but chronic malnutrition rates remain high. Deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions in recent years have led many to emigrate to neighboring countries, creating a substantial burden on the region. The country appears to be making a gradual shift from humanitarian crisis toward recovery, but much of the population remains highly vulnerable.

    Robert Mugabe has historically enjoyed considerable popularity in Africa as a former liberation leader, but some African leaders have viewed his policies as increasingly damaging to the continent and have urged democratic reforms in recent years. Following controversial elections in 2000 and citing abuses of human rights and the rule of law, the United States and some other former allies of the government became vocal critics. The United States has enforced targeted sanctions against top Zimbabwe officials and associates since 2002. This report provides background on events leading up to and surrounding the country’s most recent elections, in March and June 2008. For further discussion of Zimbabwe’s power sharing agreement, its transitional government, and other more recent developments, please see CRS Report RL34509, Zimbabwe: The Transitional Government and Implications for U.S. Policy, by Lauren Ploch.

  • Zimbabwe: Background

    Congressional Research Service

    Contents Overview ....................................................................................................................................1

    Background ................................................................................................................................1

    Political Situation........................................................................................................................2 Restrictions on Political Freedoms ........................................................................................3 Parliamentary Elections 2005................................................................................................4

    Election-Related Violence ...............................................................................................5 Charges of Election Rigging............................................................................................5 Election Observers ..........................................................................................................6

    2005 Senate Elections ...........................................................................................................7 Internal ZANU-PF Struggles .................................................................................................7 The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).....................................................................8

    Origins of the MDC ........................................................................................................8 Treason Charges..............................................................................................................9 Division in the Opposition ..............................................................................................9 Opposition Defiance Against a Ban on Protests and Rallies ........................................... 10

    Political Violence................................................................................................................ 11 Developments Surrounding the 2008 Elections.......................................................................... 12

    South African Mediation ............................................................................................... 12 March 2008 Elections ......................................................................................................... 14

    Election Preparations .................................................................................................... 14 Alleged Vote Buying ..................................................................................................... 14 Pre-Election Violence.................................................................................................... 15 Election Monitoring ...................................................................................................... 16 Press Restrictions .......................................................................................................... 16 March 2008 Election Results......................................................................................... 16 June 2008 Runoff Election ............................................................................................ 19 Post-Election Violence .................................................................................................. 20 The Power Sharing Agreement and the New Coalition Government .............................. 22

    Humanitarian Situation ............................................................................................................. 22 Operation Murambatsvina................................................................................................... 22

    Political Motivations? ................................................................................................... 23 The International Response ........................................................................................... 23 Continued Evictions and Operation Garikai .................................................................. 24 Violations of Domestic and International Law ............................................................... 25

    Zimbabwe’s Food Crisis...................................................................................................... 26 Operation Taguta .......................................................................................................... 27 Food as a Political Weapon?.......................................................................................... 28

    HIV/AIDS .......................................................................................................................... 28 Cholera and the Healthcare System Collapse....................................................................... 29

    The Economy............................................................................................................................ 30 The IMF and the World Bank .............................................................................................. 30 Attempts to Revive Agriculture Industry ......................................................................