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

Amid hunger crisis, govt used aid to intimidate opposition supporters; authorities launched new currency in bid to stabilise economy.   

Govt intimidated opposition through partisan distribution of food aid. Amid shortfall in grain caused by inflation and drought, President Mnangagwa 3 April declared national state of disaster to address widespread hunger, seeking $2bn from international actors. Concerns, however, increased over how govt will distribute aid after local NGO Zimbabwe Peace Project 17 April released monthly report recording increase in human rights violations, intimidation and harassment, including twelve alleged incidents where citizens affiliated with political opposition were denied food parcels. Notably, ruling party ZANU-PF MP distributed rations in Gobhi village, Matabeleland North province, while warning villagers to join party or face exclusion from aid; also, village head in ward fifteen, Masvingo province allegedly convened supporters of opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s Blue Movement and threatened to remove them from beneficiary list. Meanwhile, ZANU-PF consolidated super majority in parliament with 27 April victory in two by-elections amid boycott by opposition parties.

Govt launched new currency. Central Bank 5 April announced new gold-backed currency Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG); ZANU-PF officials claimed ZiG will stabilise economy amid high inflation and volatile currency depreciation, although questions remained over whether authorities have sufficient gold, other minerals and foreign currency reserves to back ZiG. Govt and businesses reportedly refused to accept previous currency, leaving some citizens without cash due to insufficient circulation of ZiG. 

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