As Zimbabwe heads for national elections on August 23rd, the standard criticisms about the country’s polls have arisen once more. Opposition parties and civil-society groups accuse the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which runs elections, of being biased towards President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) party. Opposition groups complain that they are not receiving fair coverage in state-controlled media outlets.

There is a partial boycott. Douglas Mwonzora, the presidential candidate of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has withdrawn from the race because he believes that a fair election is impossible under conditions that greatly favour the incumbent.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Many African countries, scarred by previous pandemics, realised quickly that there was very little room for error, and did what they needed to do.’ A man has his temperature checked in a shop Harare, Zimbabwe, in October. Photograph: Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

When I tell white British people I’m going to Zimbabwe, I’m used to seeing two emotions quickly flash across their faces. The first is excitement and the second is fear. Who can blame them? Excitement and fear are how the continent of Africa has been painted for decades – long before malnourished children with flies orbiting the crowns of their head became a staple of charity appeals.

It’s not just British people who have been taught to feel this way. The political and economic upheavals of post-colonial Africa have even coloured how the colonised feel about their lives and their futures.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las consecuencias ambientales de la represión política

Zimbabue supo ser la nueva promesa de África: contaba con un sólido capital humano, considerables riquezas en recursos naturales y una infraestructura moderna, era líder del continente en la producción de maíz, trigo y soja; sus exportaciones agrícolas le ganaron el apodo del «granero de África»... ¡Cuán profundo ha caído!

En la actualidad Zimbabue apenas puede alimentar a su propia gente, ni que hablar del resto del continente. Según el Programa Mundial de Alimentos, unos 8,6 millones de zimbabuenses necesitan asistencia y se prevé que la desnutrición aguda aumentará un 15 % en 2020, exacerbada por el impacto de la pandemia de la COVID-19.…  Seguir leyendo »

Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, left, with a supporter after his release on bail from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare on Sept. 2. (Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2017, Robert Mugabe, the autocrat who held power in Zimbabwe since he helped it gain independence in 1980, was toppled in a coup orchestrated by his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Millions of Zimbabweans hoped for a more prosperous and free future.

“When they finally removed Mugabe from power, people were ecstatic and they gave Emmerson the benefit of the doubt,” Angela Quintal, Africa Program Coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, told me. “They were prepared to believe that he could change. Among those were people like Hopewell Chin’ono.”

Chin’ono is a journalist who recently spent several weeks in jail.…  Seguir leyendo »

El régimen proscrito de Zimbabue

El 20 de julio pasado, las autoridades zimbabuenses arrestaron al afamado periodista de investigación Hopewell Chinono con la acusación de “incitar a participar en violencia pública”. Pero su crimen verdadero fue exponer, en colaboración con Mduduzi Mathuthu, otro periodista que hoy está arrestado, el supuesto fraude de adquisiciones en el ministerio de salud relacionado con insumos médicos para combatir el COVID-19.

Las revelaciones de Chinono hicieron que un reluctante Emmerson Mnangagwa, presidente del país, sacara de su cargo al ministro de salud Obadiah Moyo. Pero mientras a este le fue otorgada la libertad bajo fianza tras su arresto, Chinono sigue en la cárcel a la espera del juicio.…  Seguir leyendo »

Musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, at a news conference in Kampala, Uganda, on June 15, about the government handling of the coronavirus pandemic. (Abubaker Lubowa/Reuters)

Last week, Zimbabwean security agents raided Hopewell Chin’ono’s home, arresting the journalist for allegedly “inciting public violence”. Chin’ono’s reporting uncovered corruption in the government’s pandemic response and led to the ousting of the health minister over allegations of contract fraud. Security forces also arrested opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume and more than 100,000 others, charging them with violating coronavirus-related regulations.

While the scale of the repression in Zimbabwe captured the attention of advocacy groups such as Amnesty International and the U.S. Embassy, it’s not the only country undertaking politically motivated crackdowns in the name of public health. For autocrats, the coronavirus has lowered the cost of repression by allowing them to justify actions as necessary responses to the crisis.…  Seguir leyendo »

En una fría noche invernal de julio de 2016, miles de personas se reunieron en las afueras del Tribunal de Magistrados, ubicado en el distrito conocido como Rotten Row de Harare, para esperar el veredicto en el caso del gobierno de Zimbabue contra el pastor Evan Mawarire, líder del movimiento #ThisFlag y férreo opositor al entonces Presidente Robert Mugabe. Cuando los magistrados finalmente rechazaron los cargos de traición contra Mawarire por convocar pacíficamente a manifestarse contra la corrupción, espontáneamente se generó una fiesta callejera. Fue una victoria inesperada del estado de derecho, ganada, al menos en parte, mediante una acción colectiva de no-violencia por parte de la gente de a pie.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the world reckons with the covid-19 pandemic, we are learning firsthand how health epidemics often reveal underlying social, political and economic tensions in a society. In his latest book, “The Political Life of an Epidemic,” offers a vivid and rigorous account of the causes and consequences of Zimbabwe’s 2008-2009 cholera outbreak. Chigudu, associate professor of African politics and Fellow of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, argues the cholera outbreak served as a “perfect storm,” opening a window to understanding the multiple ways disease affects the relationship of citizens with their government.

Scholars of diseases may look at the weakness and dysfunction of the Zimbabwean health system, and predict that a cholera outbreak was inevitable.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un sátrapa

¿Sabe usted por qué millones de africanos quieren entrar a Europa como sea, arriesgándose a morir ahogados en el Mediterráneo? Porque, por desdicha para ellos, todavía hay en el África buen número de tiranuelos como Robert Mugabe, el sátrapa que durante 37 años fue amo y señor de Zimbabue y que acaba de morir en el Hospital Gleneagles, de Singapur. Tenía 95 años de edad, era muy aficionado al cricket, a las langostas y al champagne francés, solía gastarse unos 250.000 dólares en cada una de sus fiestas de cumpleaños y se calcula que deja a su viuda Grace —apodada Gucci por su afición a la ropa y a los bolsos de esa célebre marca y varias décadas más joven que su marido— una herencia de nada menos que unos mil millones de dólares.…  Seguir leyendo »

Children stand beside a mural of former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe in Harare. Photo: Getty Images.

Robert Mugabe's death at age 95, after nearly 60 years at the helm of Zimbabwe's liberation and post-independence politics, is a momentous occasion. Mugabe was the founding father of modern Zimbabwe, with all its stunning successes and grievous failures. As he moves into national legend, contestations over his legacy demonstrate that, in death as in life, the man known as Gushungo (from his family lineage) still continues to polarize opinion.

His failings are well known, including the mass murders of more than 30,000 civilians in Matabeleland during the 1980s Gukurahundi campaigns, and the killings and torture of opposition activists in the 2000s and 2010s.…  Seguir leyendo »

The remains of a 2013 election poster for Robert Mugabe in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Mr. Mugabe, who ran the country for 37 years, died on Friday. Credit Zinyange Auntony/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The death of Robert Mugabe, the 95-year-old former president of Zimbabwe, on Friday elicited a mixed and somewhat subdued response from Zimbabweans, in part because he had already suffered his political death after being overthrown by the military in 2017.

Zimbabweans had celebrated the end of Mr. Mugabe’s 37-year-rule with enthusiasm on the streets and on social media. Until the coup, we Zimbabweans had been resigned to living under Mr. Mugabe’s rule till his death. There was a feeling he would outlive us.

After his ouster, Mr. Mugabe’s presidential portrait was replaced in public buildings by that of his longtime associate Emmerson Mnangagwa, who created a certain narrative of the coup: Emmerson was the dutiful son who merely took the reins from Robert, the ailing father and liberation hero who was being abused by his much younger second wife, Grace and her cronies, a faction of politicians who were born too late to participate in the war of the 1970s that ended white minority rule.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una foto de archivo del líder de Zimbabue, Robert Mugabe, reconocido como un libertador y también como un opresor (Jerome Delay)

Zimbabue ha recibido variadas y grandilocuentes palabras de homenaje para su caudillo y exgobernante, Robert Mugabe, quien murió el viernes de la semana pasada. El presidente de Kenia, Uhuru Kenyatta, calificó a Mugabe de “faro brillante de la liberación de África”. El presidente sudafricano, Cyril Ramaphosa, dijo: “Lo recordamos como un líder destacado de la lucha por la independencia del pueblo de Zimbabue” y “como un líder destacado en el continente africano”.

Estos homenajes pueden sonar sorprendentes, particularmente en Occidente, dado el infame historial de abusos contra los derechos humanos de Mugabe. Sin embargo, la realidad es que, para los zimbabuenses, el legado de Mugabe es más complicado de lo que muchos en el extranjero piensan: fue un libertador que se convirtió en un opresor, y ambas facetas están siendo recordadas después de su fallecimiento.…  Seguir leyendo »

Children pass in front of a wall with a mural of the Robert Mugabe in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Saturday, a day after his death. (Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images)

In 1980, after coming to power following the brutal 15-year guerrilla war he led against white minority rule, Robert Mugabe, independent Zimbabwe’s first leader, made an extraordinary speech in which he addressed the country’s anxious white population:

“If yesterday I fought you as an enemy, today you have become a friend. If yesterday you hated me, today you cannot avoid the love that binds me to you.”

I was 12 years old at the time, and it was partly because of that moving speech that my parents — white Africans of many generations — chose to stay in Zimbabwe, though an estimated 60 percent of the country’s white population would leave over the next six years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe is seen at the closing ceremony of the 28th Southern African Development Community summit of heads of state and government, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Aug. 17, 2008. (Jerome Delay/AP)

Glowing tributes of Zimbabwe’s strongman and former longtime ruler, Robert Mugabe, have been pouring in since he died Friday morning. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called Mugabe a “shining beacon of Africa’s liberation,” while South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “We remember him as a towering leader of a struggle for independence of the people of Zimbabwe” and “as an outstanding leader on the African continent.”

This praise may come as a surprise, particularly in the West, given Mugabe’s infamous record of human rights abuses. Yet the glaring reality is that, for Zimbabweans, Mugabe’s legacy is more complicated than many abroad would think.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Zimbabwe, former president Robert Mugabe has died, but the institutional legacies that helped shape his long and repressive regime live on. In 2019, the current economic crisis under President Emmerson Mnangagwa — created by a mix of drought and bad monetary policies — has led to mass unrest and new signs of repression.

A wave of protests that began after a 130 percent rise in fuel prices in January continued throughout the year. The government response has grown increasingly violent, with reports that security forces were beating and detaining protesters. In August, the crackdown escalated with the arrest of members of the Rural Teachers Union who were campaigning for wage increases.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando el presidente de Zimbabue, Robert Mugabe, fue derrocado en noviembre de 2017, después de 30 años en el poder, muchos esperaban que la decadencia económica generada durante su gobierno se revertiría. Pero, un año y medio después, la economía no da señales de recuperación, gracias a una crisis monetaria en curso. ¿Una criptomoneda basada en la cadena de bloques podría ser la cura para los males de Zimbabue?

Hace poco más de diez años, Zimbabue se vio aquejado por una hiperinflación tan severa –que alcanzó un pico de 89.700 millones por ciento en noviembre de 2008- que decidió abandonar su moneda y adoptar en su lugar una canasta de monedas internacionales, encabezada por el dólar estadounidense.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Our nation is now trapped in a cycle of terror and unrest. Armed soldiers are a fixture on the streets, manning roadblocks and fuel stations.’ A military patrol in Harare. Photograph: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Like the fleeting blossom of Jacaranda trees in spring, faith in the government of Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has waned, following another round of state violence towards unarmed citizens.

A Harare woman wounded in the leg by a close-range gunshot from a soldier’s gun is ferried in a wheelbarrow to seek medical help. Elsewhere in the capital, a young footballer is killed for standing outside his home – his sole crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. These days, on the streets of Harare, an unnatural silence and fear have displaced the wild cheers of celebration that accompanied the 2017 resignation of Robert Mugabe as president.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Martin Fayulu chant slogans and carry placards as he delivers his appeal contesting the CENI results of the presidential election at the constitutional court in Kinshasa, on 12 January 2019. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe

A dispute over the results of the DR Congo’s 30 December election cast a dark shadow over what should be a historic transition of power but a surprisingly robust reaction by regional actors offers a genuine chance for a course correction. According to official tallies, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was the winner, but these stood in stark contrast to a parallel count by Congolese Catholic Church observers, which indicated a landslide for Martin Fayulu, another opposition leader. Data leaked from sources within the electoral authorities confirm the church’s figures, strongly suggesting an effort to rig the vote in favour of the opposition candidate more palatable to incumbent President Kabila and his allies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Angry protesters barricade the main route to Zimbabwe's capital Harare from Epworth township after the government announced a hike in fuel prices, on 14 January 2019. AFP/Jekesai Njikizana

What triggered this explosion of unrest?

On 12 January, in response to persistent fuel shortages compounded by manipulation and mismanagement of a currency crisis, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a fuel price hike of over 200 per cent to $3.31 per litre – making the country’s petrol price the highest in the world. It is unclear how this move would address the shortages, outside of pricing fuel out of the reach of many; already, the knock-on effects of transport and commodity price increases are adding evident stress to ordinary Zimbabweans’ lives.

The massive rise sparked a general strike, along with widespread protests, which in many areas was characterised by violence and considerable destruction of property.…  Seguir leyendo »

A family member of Kelvin Tinashe Choto reacts during his funeral in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, on Saturday. He was killed in a violent crackdown by security forces on protests. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

More than a year after the ousting of long-serving President Robert Mugabe in a military coup, and six months after the election of new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe is once more in crisis. Security forces have cracked down brutally on large-scale protests, leaving at least 12 dead, hundreds injured and more than 600 detained. To resolve the crisis, leaders in Zimbabwe, the region and internationally will have to look beyond the artificially constrained choices of the past.

A massive increase in the price of fuel triggered the latest upheaval. Citizens deeply frustrated by the ongoing currency crisis, shortages of critical items such as medical supplies and the absence of real economic progress took to the streets in protest last week.…  Seguir leyendo »