Until the much disputed 2008 Parliamentary elections, Zimbabwe was effectively a one-party state dominated by President Robert Mugabe and his party, Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). A power-sharing deal between ZANU-PF and its main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in 2009 sparked hope of a positive turn for democracy in Zimbabwe. Political violence and polarisation between ZANU-PF and the two MDC parties do, however, remain major challenges. To support the facilitation of dialogue between the political parties in Zimbabwe, DIPD has entered into a partnership with Zimbabwe Institute.
Zimbabwe was off to a good start following independence in 1980. The first free elections were held the same year with the participation of several political parties. Economic and social developments were also promising with large investments in areas such as education, and the country was often referred to as the breadbasket of Africa.
Since, Zimbabwe took an economic and political turn for the worse. Politically, Robert Mugabe, key player in the liberation struggle, and his party, ZANU-PF, gained a majority in the 1980 elections, and quickly set out to dominate the political scene in Zimbabwe. Obstruction of political opposition and an undermining of the rule of law have consequently become key features of politics in the country. Economically, the country was hit by rampant inflation, food shortages and, finally, collapse of the economy.
Not until the 2008 elections did ZANU-PF face effective resistance to its one-party rule, when the Movement for Democratic Change – formed in 1999 and split into two fractions, MDC-T and MDC-M, in 2005 – gained majority in the Zimbabwean Parliament. In the Presidential race, the leader of MDC-T, Morgan Tsvangirai, gained a majority in the first round, though not by sufficient votes to avoid a second run-off against Mugabe. Tsvangirai eventually withdrew following attacks on MDC supporters, and Mugabe was sworn in for another term.
Following international pressure, a power-sharing agreement – the Global Political Agreement (GPA) – was reached between President Mugabe and Tsvangirai and an inclusive government formed in 2009, granting Tsvangirai the position as Prime Minister.
Although the GPA has increased political space somewhat in Zimbabwe, politically motivated violence and general human rights abuses continue to be a concern. Economically, the formation of the Inclusive Government and subsequent dollarisation of the currency has stabilised the economy somewhat, although poverty remains widespread.
At present, talk of the next elections due no later than June 2013 and the constitutional review process currently undertaken dominates the political debate.
DIPD in Zimbabwe
DIPD has as of July 2012 entered into apartnership with Zimbabwe Institute, established in 2002 to facilitate dialogue between the political parties, democracy, peace, tolerance, and human rights in Zimbabwe.
The project seeks to facilitate dialogue between the political parties in Zimbabwe, and thereby support a culture of multi-partyism. Activities include dialogue workshops between the political parties, peace indabas, south-south exchange visits to enable sharing of best practices in democracy, workshops bringing together political parties and civil society, training programmes for party leaders, and research and advocacy.
The project runs until the end of 2013 and is undertaken in close cooperation with the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy. A partnership with Zimbabwe Institute beyond 2013 is, however, envisioned.
Contact Director of DIPD Bjørn Førde at email@example.com