Chipo Dendere

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Protesters gather near a burning tire during a demonstration over the hike in fuel prices in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Jan. 15. (AP)

Last week, Zimbabwe’s High Court ordered Internet operators to restore service to people in the country after access had been shut down for a week. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s officials, aiming to prevent protesters from coordinating their actions and sharing information, ordered the shutdown after mass protests against fuel price hikes — from less than $3 per gallon to almost $12 a gallon — rocked Zimbabwe for weeks. Protesters argued that the shutdown’s goal was to prevent the world from hearing about the violent government crackdown that left at least 12 dead and more than 600 imprisoned.

Zimbabwe was not the first — and surely won’t be the last — country in which an African government shut down the Internet to suppress political dissent, as I’ve found in my ongoing research project tracking such shutdowns.…  Seguir leyendo »

Zimbabwean voters line up before dawn Monday to cast their ballots in the country’s general elections in Harare. (Reuters)

Over 5 million Zimbabweans have registered to vote in Monday’s elections. The majority of registrants, 60 percent, are under the age of 40.

This is Zimbabwe’s first election since the ouster of long-term leader Robert Mugabe last November and the death of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February. Mugabe broke his silence on the eve of the election and said he will not vote for those who tormented him.

Voters will choose from 55 registered parties to elect their president and members of the Senate and National Assembly. Should a presidential runoff election be necessary (to meet the majority threshold), it will be held Sept.…  Seguir leyendo »

Injured people are attended to after an explosion at a Zanu PF rally in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on June 23. (AP)

Zimbabweans head to the polls on July 30, in the first presidential election since the ouster of President Robert Mugabe last year. Until a week ago, Zimbabwe’s presidential campaigning had been relatively peaceful, with the exception of some violence reported during the party primary elections.

That changed abruptly on June 23, when Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s new president, survived a grenade blast at a political rally in Bulawayo, the country’s second-largest city. The president’s office announced on June 26 that two people died from injuries sustained during the attack, while 49 others remained in the hospital.

This was the first time Zimbabwe had seen a direct attack on the life of the sitting president.…  Seguir leyendo »

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai died Feb. 14, after a long battle with cancer. Together with other working-class Zimbabweans, Tsvangirai founded Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Tsvangirai’s death comes during an important transition in Zimbabwe’s national politics. It was only a couple of months ago that Robert Mugabe left the presidency after nearly 40 years of ruling Zimbabwe.

What does Tsvangirai’s death mean for the MDC and the opposition more broadly — especially in this time of great political change in Zimbabwe? Here’s what you need to know.

Once strong, Zimbabwe’s opposition is fractured

The MDC handed the ruling party, ZANU PF, its first electoral defeat in 2000, when Zimbabweans voted no on a constitutional referendum initiated by ZANU PF.…  Seguir leyendo »

Celebration in Zimbabwe as Mugabe resigns

Last week, Zimbabwe’s military took control of the government, it said, to clean out the “criminals” around the president. On Saturday, war veterans organized a citizen’s march that saw nearly 1 million Zimbabweans out in the streets demanding President Robert Mugabe step down. On Sunday, Mugabe was officially fired by his party, ZANU-PF, along with his wife, Grace, and other officials allied with the pair in the party’s factional dispute.

But not until Tuesday did the president finally resign.

Why did it take so long? Part of the explanation can be found in Zimbabwe’s constitutional and institutional design.

Even an authoritarian government can follow a constitution

Zimbabwe has not functioned like a democracy for a long time.…  Seguir leyendo »

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace chant the party’s slogan during a solidarity rally in Harare on Nov. 8. (AP)

In Zimbabwe, the military has taken control of the capital Harare, with tanks and troops stationed around the city. Its army generals officially announced around 4 a.m. local time on Wednesday that President Robert Mugabe and his family “are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed”.

While Gen. Constantine Chiwenga insists it is not a military takeover, “safe and secure”, for those of us who study African politics, is also code for secured. This effectively means that the first family is now under some type of arrest and those closest to first lady Grace Mugabe, who until the takeover appeared to be in charge in the ruling party, have been arrested for attempting to recolonize the country and undermining the revolution.…  Seguir leyendo »