Zimbabwe’s military unexpectedly ousted President Robert Mugabe in late 2017, nearly four decades after he took power. Debilitating internal factionalism within the ruling Zanu-PF party over succession to Mugabe has culminated in the elevation of Emmerson Mnangagwa to the helm. He has promised to break with the past as he endeavours to navigate a much needed economic recovery. Prospects for promoting a new more inclusive political culture are less certain. Credible elections in 2018 could be a vital stepping stone toward a peaceful democratic transition, but they also pose a challenge to Zimbabwe’s weak institutions. Through research and analysis, Crisis Group sheds light on obstacles to a smooth, credible electoral process leading up to 2018. We help relevant actors nationally and internationally to buttress the likelihood of peaceful elections and democratic transition.

CrisisWatch Zimbabwe

Unchanged Situation

Police arrested and charged main opposition party interim leader and dozens of supporters; President Mnangagwa’s remarks sparked diplomatic spat with Zambia.

Police arrested opposition members at gathering. Police 16 June arrested at least 80 youth members of opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), including interim party leader Jameson Timba, who gathered at Timba’s private residence in capital Harare; authorities next day charged 77 detainees with “gathering with intent to promote public violence and disorderly conduct”; as detainees appeared in court 18 June, Tinashe Chinopfukutwa from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights reported his clients had been abused upon arrest. Harare court 27 June denied bail to defendants, as police reportedly beat dozens and arrested several CCC supporters protesting outside. Rights group Amnesty International 19 June called for “immediate release” of detainees and investigations into allegations of torture. 

Mnangagwa railed against neighbours in leaked video, causing diplomatic spat. Video emerged of Mnangagwa accusing Zambia and Malawi of colluding with U.S. “both in terms of security and in terms of financial support” to isolate govt, and asking Russian President Vladimir Putin for support including in defence matters; meeting between both leaders took place 13 June on sidelines of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Zambian FM Haimbe 20 June rejected suggestions as “unwarranted attacks” and called on AU and Southern African regional body SADC to mediate talks with Mnangagwa’s govt; U.S. 27 June said claims it was militarising Zambia “absolutely false”

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