MULTIMEDIA: Zimbabwe Transition, from Strife to Compromise Part One

As Zimbabwe’s unity government teeters towards its termination, NewsDay Online gives you- in multimedia- a three part series of the highs and lows of this historical transitional set up.

Part 1- From Strife to Brutality to Compromise

Report by Tapiwa Zivira, Online Reporter

At the turn of 2007, the country’s political landscape had become extremely polarised.

Zanu PF- often with the alleged security forces’ help-was struggling to maintain its political hold amid an untenable economic free-fall and a rising mass opposition to its policies.

Zanu PF was facing the strongest opposition in the form of MDC led by former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai and the other smaller MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara.

The two MDCs were rallying the discontented populace to stand against Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF.

The MDCs fingered Mugabe- in power for 27 years at that time- as the chief cause of the political and economic calamity.

The economy was in shambles, and the country was grappling with ever rising commodity prices, fuel and food shortages.

Zimbabwew's inflation rates.
Zimbabwe’s inflation rates.

Company closures and retrenchments became the day’s order.

The health and education sector was crippled by acute shortages of medicines and persistent staff strikes.


A health sector in crisis.

Seven years after Zimbabwe’s war veterans and Zanu PF officials and supporters embarked on an ill-co-ordinated exercise of seizing white-owned commercial farms, agricultural production had inevitably slumped, triggering negative an economy slump.

The University of Zimbabwe estimated that between 2000 and 2007, the country’s agricultural production shrunk by 51 per cent.

Zimbabwe, once hailed as the bread basket of Southern Africa- could not sustain itself.

Until 2008 the economy suffered serious economic challenges which were characterised by hyperinflation of 231 million percent and massive devaluation of the currency. With the signing of the GPA came dollarisation which has seen the country's economy registering positive growth rates.
Until 2008 the economy suffered serious economic challenges which were characterised by hyperinflation of 231 million percent and massive devaluation of the currency.

Zanu PF remained on the offensive, denying accusations of being the reason behind the crisis.

The party claimed it was a victim of efforts by the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) to effect ‘regime change’ through the imposition of sanctions on the Zanu PF leaders.

The EU and US maintained that the sanctions were restrictive measures on those accused of impinging on human rights.

Tension, brutality and International focus.

As political tension and economic decay continued to mount unabated, opposition and civic society leaders called for a prayer rally on 11 March 2007.

Armed with the Draconian Public Order and Security Act, the police unleashed its instruments of suppression, including crowd Israeli-made dispersal water-tanks, teargas, and AK47 rifles.

People flee from the homes after police fired teargas-11 March 2007.
People flee from the homes after police fired teargas-11 March 2007.

Political party leaders, including Tsvangirai, and hundreds of activists were arrested and allegedly tortured while in custody.

A political activist, Gift Tandare, was reportedly shot dead by police.

Images and videos of badly tortured opposition and civic society leaders- beamed all over the world- drew the regional and international spotlight on Zimbabwe’s political crisis.

Arthur Mutambara (L), head of a faction of the MDC, walks with a beaten opposition leader Tsvangirai (C) and National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku (R). Picture by Desmond Kwande
Arthur Mutambara (L), head of a faction of the MDC, walks with a beaten opposition leader Tsvangirai (C) and National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku (R). Picture by Desmond Kwande

A police officer was quoted in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper saying, “Using sjamboks, army belts and gun butts, the soldiers attacked Tsvangirai until he passed out. One of the soldiers poured cold water all over Tsvangirai to resuscitate him. Tsvangirai regained consciousness again at around 1:30 am… One vicious woman was left to work on him. She removed an army belt from her waist and used it to assault Tsvangirai until he passed out again.”

President Mugabe allegedly ordered the beating of Tsvangirai.

United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon condemned the incident.

“Such actions violate the basic democratic right of citizens to engage in peaceful assembly,” said Ban.

The late Levy Mwanawasa, president of Zambia at that time, compared Zimbabwe “to a sinking Titanic whose passengers were jumping out in a bid to save their lives”.

The US, through its State Secretary of that time Condoleezza Rice added its voice to the condemnation.

“The world community again has been shown that the regime of Mugabe is ruthless and repressive and creates only suffering for the people of Zimbabwe,” said Rice.

Sadc’s road to peace, elections.

Political observers noted that the assaults and the deteriorating state of affairs pushed the regional bloc Sadc to strengthen its efforts towards the resolving of the Zimbabwe crisis.

By the end of 2007, with the help of Sadc, the Zimbabwe government had passed Constitution Amendment 18 to pave way for Zimbabwe elections under the newly introduced Sadc guidelines on elections.

Despite the continued economic disintegration, the beginning of 2008 and the run up to the March 29 elections was marked by a generally peaceful environment.

For the first time since its formation, the MDC was allowed air space on state broadcaster ZBCTV and radio stations.

Although incidences of hate speech and violence were recorded, they were minor compared to the previous elections.

Zimbabwe’s held its first harmonized polls in peace.

Soon after the election, Sadc head of observer mission Jose Marcos Barrica described the voting process as “a peaceful and credible expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.”

The international community lauded the process and the general atmosphere of political tolerance that prevailed on the run up to the polls.

Results of the March 29 parliamentary elections
Results of the March 29 parliamentary elections

The Nosedive- back to the dark period.

The peace and tolerance did not last long for as soon as the outcome of election showed a possible opposition victory, systematic political violence ensued.

Zanu PF and state security agents allegedly started terrorizing purported opposition supporters while The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) withheld presidential results for more than a month.

Senior MDC-T officials, including Tsvangirai, sought refuge in Botswana and other countries claiming their lives were in danger.

Mwanawasa called for an urgent Sadc leaders meeting on 12 April 2008 to discuss the post-election impasse.

On the eve the April 18 Independence Day celebrations a defiant Mugabe accused the western countries of trying to effect regime change through the MDC-T.

“”We should not let our children down by dropping our guard against imperialism, British imperialism, which is surreptitiously and clandestinely weaving its way through our society trying to divide us,” he said.

On May 2, 2008, ZEC announced that Tsvangirai had received 47.9 percent, and Mugabe had 43.2 percent of the votes.

Neither of the two was a clear winner so there was to be a second round contest.

Results of the first and second rounds of the 2008 elections
Results of the first and second rounds of the 2008 elections
This was because the law states that where there is no presidential contestant with a vote percentage of 50 percent plus one, the first two front runners go for a second round run-off.

Meanwhile political violence continued to escalate.

On June 22, five days before the election, Tsvangirai announced his withdrawal from the election citing violence.

According to Tsvangirai, 10 of his party supporters had been killed, 500 attacked, 400 arrested, and 3,000 families displaced.

In a statement, he urged SADC, AU and the United Nations to assist Zimbabwe “restore the rule of law, peace, and conditions for a free and fair election.”

“The militia, war veterans and even Mugabe himself have made it clear that anyone that votes for me in the forthcoming election faces the very real possibility of being killed… we in the MDC, cannot ask them to cast their vote on June 27th when that vote could cost them their lives,” said Tsvangirai.

Following the withdrawal, Ban called for a postponement of the elections, adding that “people of Zimbabwe have the right to choose their own leader.”

Undeterred, Mugabe went ahead and won, what has been termed ‘a one horse race’ on June 27.

Sadc, the African Union (AU), the UN and the rest of the international community immediately condemned the outcome of the election.

Sadc and the AU said the election “did not represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe” and “the prevailing environment impinged on the credibility of the electoral
process”.

In search of compromise amid mayhem

Faced with a widely condemned election victory, a parliament without two-thirds majority of his Zanu PF, and a broadly recognized first round result in which Tsvangirai was leading, Mugabe found himself with no choice but to accept the regional and international community’s suggestions for a negotiated political settlement.

The initial inter-party talks began on July 10, with the facilitation of the then South African President Thabo Mbeki.

An agreement was reached on September 15, 2008, through a document that has become known as the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

The GPA was signed on September 15, 2008, but due to continued haggling and differences between the main political parties, the new government took office only in February 2009.
The GPA was signed on September 15, 2008, but due to continued haggling and differences between the main political parties, the new government took office only in February 2009.

Under the GPA, the three parties were to share power for a transitional period.

Despite the signing of the document, discrepancies continued to prevent the establishment of the unity government and negotiations dragged on amid reports of continued systematic harassment of opposition officials.

The country’s economy virtually collapsed, leaving the country’s key sectors- health, education and service provisions- in the intensive care.

While negotiators haggled over government positions, Zimbabwe faced a cholera crisis that only ended after two years.

A man pushes his relative in a wheelbarrow to a Cholera Polyclinic, where victims of cholera were being treated. Amid political negotiations, the country faced the worst cholera crisis in 15 years. Picture by Desmond Kwande
A man pushes his relative in a wheelbarrow to a Cholera Polyclinic, where victims of cholera were being treated. Amid political negotiations, the country faced the worst cholera crisis in 15 years. Picture by Desmond Kwande

Dubbed the worst cholera outbreak in Africa in 15 years, it later spread to Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia and about 100,000 cases and over 4,000 deaths were recorded

A unity government took office on February 2009.

The spectacle and relief brought by the swearing in of the new government was blighted by the continued incarceration of human rights activists including Jestina Mukoko, the arrest of MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett among many other incidences.

 Jestina Mukoko, a human rights activist, had been abducted from her home by suspected state agents soon after GPA signing, and despite the swearing in of the coalition government, she remained detained.

Jestina Mukoko, a human rights activist, had been abducted from her home by suspected state agents soon after GPA signing, and despite the swearing in of the coalition government, she remained detained.

There was also a protracted tussle over ministerial responsibilities.

Despite this, a general peaceful environment eventually ensued and Tsvangirai and Mugabe showed- for the first time- tolerance for each other.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai showed tolerance of each other, despite past differences
For the first time, Mugabe and Tsvangirai showed tolerance of each other, despite past differences

The economic situation generally improved, as the Finance Ministry under the MDC-T’s Tendai Biti, encouraged the teachers and health professionals to get back to work as the country had adopted the use of foreign currency.

One of the tasks of the unity government was to formulate a new constitution that was to be the basis of a free, fair and credible election.

The process was to be handled by a parliamentary committee, which drew the ire of civil society organizations that wanted to be part of the process.

The formulation of the Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee ended in chaos as the political parties haggled over positions.

Check out for the next instalment, focusing on the course of the unity government from 2009, when the constitution making process started, up to the recent acceptance of the final draft.

25 Comments

  1. Zimbabwe suffered coz Mugabe wanted it to suffer. Now Mugabe is protecting his cow boy Mutambara who do not have a party that he is representing in the GPA. Well it was clear that he was defeated by Morgan and he refused to go and went on to rig to protect his 33years in power. He ordered the execution of the Ndebele in 1980s, now he don’t want them in the GPA it’s clear he is a Tribalist. ZANU PF is suffering a who must take over from the known Tribalist Mugabe. Well never the less Zimbabwe will be good when it is ruled by a not Shona guy it could a tonga, Venda Sotho kalanga, and some among smaller tribes.

  2. Responsible people take responsibility for their actions. All the leaders are responsible for our suffering. About the gukurahundi you are talking about your problem is that you don’t have facts and you don’t follow history of conflicts. Lets imagine that your story is true, can’t we forgive each other and move foward. Let us not act like whites who can’t forgive you for the same act you forgave them when it was done unto you. Above lets not put hatred among people because it will be very difficult to reunite them. Hakuna asina ‘zvitunha’ zvake

    1. Do u have the facts on Gukurahundi? Please share them. This should be interesting

  3. it seems you deliberatelyignored to tell readers the devastating effects of ziderra which was crafted by mdc t. Tell the nation that tape water has become a luxury in urban areas where mdc is in charge. By the way you promised civil servants living wages when you get donations from the international community but alas.tsvangirai is now living big going on an open zip crusade and paying an indvidual as much as 300 000 usd for his sex capeds. Civil servants numerous attempts to have sala raies increased has been with ridicule by biti

    1. This is crazy thinking you think sanctions by l
      America brought starvation to Zimbabwe? What effects did this ZIDERA have on maize production? Factories? last time I checked all Africa, Middle East, BRIC, South America counties had no sanctions on Zimbabwe. Blame the people who looted the state money, destroyed agriculture, wake up fool.

    2. Nhema ndiJonathan Moyo Chete anyora chirungu chako taakuchiziva.

    3. Lets talk about salaries when Tsvangirai gets into power. Tell ZANU to release money from ngoda.

    4. It’s tap water not tape water. Nyora neShona kana chichinetsa sahwira.

  4. what else can u expect from this paper which is a source of unbalanced news. They think telling one sided news will turn the tables to their side. This paper was meant to cause rifting and confusion among Zimbos. Give us smothin better pliz

    1. wakutaura ndove manje

    2. Tell us the so called other side??

  5. Unbalanced news as usual, and i wonder why i am not surprised. Ordain do you really want to go into the history of Gukurahundi, Entumbane and the rest? Do you know who and what provoked the hostilities? Please shut up if you dont know your history!

    1. Do u know the history? Gukurahundi is a about the murder of the civilians by the so called “Dissident” and 5 th brigade
      Manufactured both for ethnic cleansing you can’t recreate history those two set of animals will face justice one day together with their masters and handlers

  6. Takambomama

  7. Patrick where is your problem, who does not know of our tainted history, 100 dissidents did not warrant murdering 20 000 and displacing thousands and denying others a chance in life and when the amnesty was announced 99 dissidents came out so imagine killing 20 000 and rewarded with one dissident who must have been murdered by his fellow comrades? In the army the Ndebeles were being sidelined and they saw there was no political solution that is why they satrted this dissident war, the wrong these dissidents did was to wage their war in Matebeleland they should have come into the deep hearts of Mashonaland especially Mashonaland West and Central, who knows by now we could have had a better government.

  8. mandla ndebele

    Robert, morgan, arthur…… All tribalists!

  9. To challenge the real tribalist and triggers of tribalism. Ask yo self who first attacked who? When th ndebele came to zim how many people were wounded,murdered, enslaved nd raped? Then wat triggered Gukurahundi if not yo culture of violence that u imported to our relatively peacefull country? As a matter of fact the fig of 20000 is an exaggeration u can ask yo old ndebele man. Its a game of numbers ende u thot kuti mashona akapusa. We hv nothing against u ndebele guys bcz most of u r useless nd misguided. Viva RGM

  10. Give us a break Tribalist guys puppets of ZANU and Mdc you sleep yr stomach empty but busy ralling behind Tribalist and leaders with no vision for this country. You fools Shona cultured guys. Makapusa wake up Zimbabwe need to dvp stop killing pple trying to protect your old horse. What happened in 2007 to those army generals ask yr self Patrick Gaddafi muka

  11. No miracle ZANU deye ropa undebatable! They eliminate. Then what kind of leadership is that Chururi, chiwenga, paradzai all ZANU guys. Think of yr children and stop thinking of voting fr Tribalist animals

  12. Even if you mention ndebeles as tribalists and have no facts on gukurahundi,what i like about zanu pf is that mashona acho akumama neku rowa plus there being murder na homza,phambili nge zanu pf phansi lama swina

  13. mandla ndebele

    Wena zim1, swina lo2V… U cn h8 us Ndebeles n calls us useless n misguided, dat we cn handle, we’v been called worse bt zwana la wena mntwana wewule, dnt belittle wat happened to us. Gukurahundi ws no joke, pple wer butchered, burried alive or set alight including women n children n dis happened in our lifetime, after independence. We lost uncles n aunties, mums n dads, nephews n nieces. Always buffles me wen pple equate gukurahundi to 1839 wen King Mzilikazi gotto wat is called Zim now. Ere ws no constitution then, a kingdom hd to be militarily astute to survive. Dat ws da way of life then. Who do u knw wena retard zim1 dat u lost in 1839… Mina i hv a list of family members that i lost jst 26yrs ago. Politics is politics bt lets objective n considerate wen it comes to gukurahundi, scares r still fresh.

  14. @Zim1 You are a big fool bastard this glue sniffing pig u think u know a lot go and f###k your mama.

  15. the trueth is Mugabe lost the election in 2008 and he knows it. at some point he wanted the securicos to let him leave but they stopped him with Emmerson insisting that Mugabe will not be allowed to go. this is a fact many of you do not know. Bob will not have allowed to share the unity government if he had worn. he is not known for that kind of unity. hw actualy now feels more like a president than immediately after the elections in 2008. because of time he has healed even his conscience now is starting to tell him that he is the boss but inwardly when he is on his own he is tormented when he realises how far away from the ideals of the struggle he has strayed.
    Mugabe is very clear in his mind that he got the best bargain for himself which he did not and still does not deserve. he is grateful to the woodlums in charge of our security. They are the reason he is and may still be where he is. but poor Zimbabweans, as they feud over who to vote for they forget their lives are worse that before independence . they are kept busy arguing on political party lines meanwhile their lives are wasted by the sole ruler. those above 50 years and more , must know that they have had 33 years of wasted life long years. all because of one man who does not believe we all have a sale by date when it come to capabilities in life. can any one tell me how they expect Mugabe to change the environment for the people of Zimbabwe to start working for themselves and families under conditions that are life fulfilling as God bestowed them upon us as a people. God did not give us Zimbabwe so that we turn it into a land of the survival of the fittest and of the greedy and manupulators. Our president is a master manipulator and tactical dictator despite his age. But all this he does for self preservation and not for the preservation of the citizenry.if he could only use half of his trickery and manipulative prowers for the people of Zimbabwe, the country would be a land of milk and honey. because his is not a people,s agenda, those who are with him even if they are as useless as anything you can think of, they will remain as ministers for ever as long as GM lives and rules. this does not sound like a people’s project. The future of Zimbabwe is in your hands Zimbabwean not Mugabe or Tsvangison. Tsvangirai is no Moses neither is Mugabe Jesus. Do not be led astray by these vaPostori who claim God has told them to Vote for Mugabe.These are guys who do not understand that polygamy and lack of education is a concoction for aids. they deny their siblings education and medical treatment but say marrying many women is no problem. Can God use such to speak to his people in a country. Save them they are ignorant and they will perish. I am sure if God would have spoken to these guys , he would have told them to tell Mugabe to turn around like Saul and get him baptised in Mukuvisi river their deeping style and then he would be sent.
    how can God use the one who is murdering, maiming and indirectly causing such untold sufferings and does not belong to the vapostori secT. Ignorance ! Please verengai biberi musa bire vanhu.

  16. This is a well written article

  17. iwe Clear enda unoudza herald itipe dzaunoti balanced news

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