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Zimbabwe

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

President Mnangagwa 30 May announced general elections would be held 30 July. Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) 19 May said it had finished removing duplicated names from biometric voter roll. Mnangagwa 30 May signed into law Electoral Amendment Act which contains provisions to enhance ZEC’s independence. High Court 14 May ordered National Council of Chiefs President Chief Charumbira to retract statement of support for ZANU-PF and Masvingo High Court 16 May ruled Chief’s Council should refrain from political statements and remain neutral. Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum 23 May released report alleging police and ZANU-PF continue to be primary perpetrators of political violence and intimidation.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

18 Jun 2018
Most [of Zimbabwe's presidential candidates] have minimal support bases and the election is likely to simply reinforce this reality. Twenty-three candidates is an unfeasible number of aspirants. For some candidates it is about principle and symbolism; for others it may well be little more than egotistical vanity project or something bordering in self-delusion. Bulawayo24 News

Piers Pigou

Senior Consultant, Southern Africa
21 Feb 2018
[Zimbabwe's] MDC [opposition party] needs enigmatic leadership that can inspire, lead and build a party that faces huge organisational and leadership challenges. No single leader can achieve this alone. Daily News

Piers Pigou

Senior Consultant, Southern Africa
15 Feb 2018
[Zimbabwe's veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's] passing is of terrible sadness but represents enormous challenge to the new cadre of leadership in the opposition. VOA

Piers Pigou

Senior Consultant, Southern Africa
5 Feb 2018
It seems highly unlikely that [former President] Mugabe would risk jeopardizing the handsome golden parachute he has been given by teaming up with Joice Mujuru. Daily News

Piers Pigou

Senior Consultant, Southern Africa
16 Jan 2018
If conditions [in Zimbabwe] were genuinely free and fair, and if there were clear and credible political alternatives on the table, economic conditions would play a major role in voters' political calculations. NewsdzeZimbabwe

Piers Pigou

Senior Consultant, Southern Africa
6 Jan 2018
[Zimbabwe's President Mnangagwa] visiting [MDC party leader] Tsvangirai reflects a level of respect and political maturity rarely afforded by an opposition figure. Daily News

Piers Pigou

Senior Consultant, Southern Africa

Latest Updates

Commentary / Africa

Zimbabwe: An Opportunity for Reform?

A new presidential administration in Zimbabwe offers an opportunity for much-needed democratic and economic reform after years of stagnation. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018, Crisis Group proposes four key areas on which the EU and its member states should focus its support: the security sector, elections, the economy and national reconciliation.

Commentary / Africa

Standoff in Zimbabwe as Struggle to Succeed Mugabe Deepens

President Robert Mugabe plunged Zimbabwe into political crisis by firing his long-time ally and enforcer Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa on 6 November 2017. In this Q&A prior to an apparent army coup in Mnangagwa's favour on 14-15 November, Crisis Group’s Senior Southern Africa Consultant Piers Pigou gives the background to the struggle to succeed the 93-year-old president.

Commentary / Africa

Mugabe’s Brittle By-election Victory Bodes Ill for Zimbabwe’s 2018 Elections

The ruling ZANU-PF is exploiting the many weaknesses of Zimbabwe’s electoral system to outpace the country’s divided opposition. Yet without a real change of policy, the country seems doomed to steeper decline.

Commentary / Africa

Confrontation in Zimbabwe Turns Increasingly Violent

Abductions, assaults by pro-government thugs and anti-government demonstrations met by tear gas and water cannon all signal rising levels of violence in Zimbabwe. The situation is aggravated by the government’s failure to implement proposals for reform and mounting economic woes.