On July 31, the people of Zimbabwe voted for their president. Results show that Mr. Robert Mugabe who has held the position for the past 33 years—has won again, defeating his strongest rival, Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mr. Tsvangirai has filed for a poll challenge based on the accusation that Mr. Mugabe did not fight fairly. Critics also say it is time for the 89-year old Mugabe to step down from politics; but Mugabe has said he will continue until he is a 100!
Zimbabwe And Mugabe: A Love Affair
Zimbabwe is a country in southern part of the African continent, and was previously known as Rhodesia. A land rich in natural beauty and home to the spectacular Victoria Falls, the country also has the world's largest platinum reserves apart from gold and copper.
Zimbabwe has been ruled by the authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe who has held on to power "by hook or crook" ever since the country became independent in 1980. He has been blamed for human rights violations, intimidating voters and rigging elections.
In 2008, Mr. Tsvangirai had won the first round of voting, but had not won enough votes to win the presidency. During the second round of voting, Mr. Tsvangirai stepped down due to claims of violence and voter intimidation from Mugabe supporters. After international pressure, both candidates were forced to share the power: Mr. Mugabe continued as the President and Mr. Tsvangirai became the Prime Minister.
Why Is Mugabe Still Popular?
The biggest domestic issue Zimbabwe faces—and the greatest difference between Mr. Mugabe’s and Mr. Tsvangirai’s position is Zimbabwe’s declining economy. As President for the past 33 years, Mr. Mugabe has held a policy of “indigenization”, meaning he wants to give the power of the economy to black Zimbabweans rather than foreigners.
In the past, many inexperienced blacks were given land that was seized from white landowners. However, much of that only went to Mugabe's cronies (supporters). This policy also led to hyperinflation, which happens when the supply of money increases much faster than the production of goods, making money worthless.
While campaigning, both candidates promised different types of change. Mr. Mugabe promised to continue the policy of indigenization, a policy that appeals to many Zimbabweans who will be in control of their own economy. Mr. Tsvangirai wanted to reverse the economic damage done by indigenization by increasing foreign investment. He also promised to reduce corruption in the diamond industry.
As of now, the African Union has approved the vote, making Mr. Mugabe the President for another 5-year term. It appears nothing will change after all in Zimbabwe.