Calls for peace after Zimbabwe vote violence

Anarchy: As well as live ammunition, tear gas was also used on anti-government protesters. © Getty

Is there any hope for Zimbabwe? Nine months after the ousting of Robert Mugabe, the country has been plunged into violence following a general election. At least six people have died.

The first election in Zimbabwe since the end of Robert Mugabe’s rule has turned violent.

On Wednesday, huge crowds of opposition protesters took to the streets in Harare. The protests turned violent as the army opened fire on the demonstrators. At least six people are dead and dozens injured.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appealed for calm.

Mnangagwa has beaten his opponent, Nathan Chamisa, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance. Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party won 145 of the 210 seats in the National Assembly.

It was Mnangagwa’s sacking as vice president in November that led to the coup against Mugabe.

Mnangagwa is known as “the crocodile”, due to his ruthlessness and ability to survive the tough world of African politics.

His victory has enraged opponents, especially after it was reported that in Harare, an opposition stronghold, 19% of voters had been turned away from polling stations.

Once known as the “jewel of Africa”, Zimbabwe was devastated by Mugabe’s mismanagement. His regime plundered resources, leaving most citizens poor. It chased white farmers off their land and persecuted political enemies.

This election was supposed to be a turning point. But will anything really change?

Breadbasket to basket case

Not for the foreseeable future, say pessimists. Mnangagwa hardly represents a break with the past. He’s an old Mugabe ally who is believed to have orchestrated massacres in the 1980s. He clearly has no respect for democracy or the rule of law. Mugabe’s legacy will last for decades.

Have some hope, reply others. Chamisa may not have won, but he energised young voters who had known nothing other than Mugabe’s repression. He is young and will get another chance. And nobody expected an instant transition to liberal democracy in a country as troubled as Zimbabwe.

You Decide

  1. Will anything change in Zimbabwe?

Activities

  1. Come up with a nickname for your country’s leader (it has to be both accurate and memorable). As a class, vote on the best one.

Some People Say...

“This land is home to all of us, and we will sink or swim together.”

Emmerson Mnangagwa

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Emmerson Mnangagwa has won the Zimbabwean election, but the vote has been marred by clashes between opposition supporters and the army.
What do we not know?
How different Mnangagwa will be from his former boss. Nobody, not even foreign governments, protested when he seized power in November. We also do not know whether there will be more violence in the coming weeks and months.

Word Watch

Zimbabwe
Formerly known as Rhodesia, Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa with a population of 16 million.
Harare
Zimbabwe’s capital.
ZANU-PF
Stands for Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front.
Poor
In 2017, the International Monetary Fund ranked Zimbabwe 162nd out of 187 countries for GDP per capita. The country has also suffered from hyperinflation. At one point $US was worth 2,621,984,228 Zimbabwean dollars.
White farmers
In 1965 there were 250,000 white people in Zimbabwe. As of 2012, there were just 28,732.

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