Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe is remembered for many things, including the successful struggle for black majority rule in the former Rhodesia. But his brutality against minorities and his manipulation of the desire for land led to one of Africa's richest countries becoming impoverished, writes Alan Broughton.

Protesters barricaded roads and burned tires in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, on January 14 after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a huge fuel price hike in a bid to stem a deepening economic crisis.

Cash shortages have plunged Zimbabwe’s economy into disarray, threatening widespread social unrest and undermining Mnangagwa’s efforts to win back foreign investors sidelined under his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

When Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai succumbed to cancer on February 14, he left his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in turmoil without an obvious successor.

Tributes are pouring in for this “hero of the nation”, according to Zimbabwe Standard. Its editorial said: “Tsvangirai is an undoubted hero whose commitment to democracy and human rights will inspire many generations to come.”

As it is often the case, dictators use ideologies to control people and impose their own views, depriving the electorate from thinking, expressing, acting or reacting. Hitler did it, Stalin did, Tito did, Saddam Hussein did it. And Robert Mugabe did it.

In Harare, Bulawayo and smaller Zimbabwean cities, hundreds of thousands of citizens joyfully took to the streets on Saturday, November 18, approving a Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) military semi-coup that resolves a long-simmering faction fight within the ruling party and ends the extraordinary career of Robert Mugabe at the age of 93.

South Africa is at crossroads, facing its biggest upheavals since independence in 1994. Globally, since the 2008 Great Recession there are growing explosive class and social conflicts due to the deepening crisis of capitalism.

Zimbabwe is facing elections next year, with the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Popular Front (ZANU-PF) government likely to be returned despite its huge unpopularity.

The 93-year-old Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s first and only president, plans to seek re-election for another five years. But there is a bitter scramble within his party to find his successor. The scramble is purely for power — policy is irrelevant to the struggle.

A march for jobs in Zimbabwe. A national shutdown or 'stay away' in Zimbabwe this month paralysed the country. For the first time in years the country's ruling party, ZANU-PF, and the tenure of 92 year old president Robert Mugabe, were seriously rattled. Young people, workers and traders – who survive by hawking food, cheap imported goods in cities and towns – engaged in pitch battles with the police and army, in many cases outnumbering the security forces.
For a good part of his 33 years in power, Robert Mugabe has presided over a ruthless dictatorship. From the thousands killed in the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres and misery for millions under structural adjustment plans, Operation Murambatsvina and hyper-inflation of 2008. Yet in the July 31 general election, endorsed by Southern African Development Community and the African Union, the 89-year-old ruler annihilated the hitherto iconic working-class leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), who beat him in March 2008.
Six Zimbabwean socialist activists were convicted on March 19 for “conspiracy to commit public violence”. Their “crime” was to watch a video in February last year about the anti-dictatorship uprising in Egypt. But the activists won a partial victory two days later when they were given suspended jail sentences of two years. The six were also ordered to each do 420 hours of community service and pay a fine of US$500 (A$478). The six had faced up to 10 years’ in jail, a sentence demanded by the state prosecutor, Edmore Nyazamba.

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