Zimbabwe. According to Countryaah.com, 2017 would prove to be the year when Robert Mugabe was forced to relinquish power, which he held since majority rule was introduced in 1980. However, nobody knew anything about when the year began. On the contrary, Mugabe, who in February turned 93, seemed to be safely at his post. In July, he donated $ 1 million, which he earned on livestock sales, to the African Union (AU) and later that month, Parliament voted through a constitutional amendment that gave the president the right to appoint the country’s highest judge alone.
The greater uncertainty prevailed over who would one day succeed Mugabe. In the power struggle within the ZANU-PF government party, 41-year-old younger wife Grace Mugabe had acquired an increasingly strong position. Many also saw it as a way to rattle her off when Mugabe dismissed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, one of Mugabe’s closest associates since the liberation struggle in November. Already in October, Mnangagwa was petitioned as Minister of Justice and instead he was named one of two Vice Presidents. Mnangagwa fled to South Africa, according to his own statement because of his attempted murder. About a week later, Army Chief Constantino Chiwenga held a press conference in which he threatened to intervene unless the regime stopped clearing party members from the freedom struggle, which was interpreted as a reference to the dismissal of Mnangagwa. He was minister responsible for national security 1980-88 and defense minister 2009-13 and has strong support from the military. On the same night that Chiwenga expressed his threat, the military took control of the capital Harare, including the state radio and television company, and placed Mugabe in house arrest. According to the military leadership, it was not a coup d’état, but the campaign was aimed at “criminals around the president”, but it was difficult to interpret the events as anything but a coup. On November 19, ZANU-PF dismissed Mugabe as party leader and elected Mnangagwa instead. Despite the party’s demand to step down as president, Mugabe clung to power. However, under threat of being brought before the national court, Robert Mugabe announced his departure on November 21. Where Grace Mugabe found herself was then unknown.
Earlier in the year, the opposition had gathered to challenge ZANU-PF in the 2018 elections. In March, several opposition parties demanded that the country’s election commission be dissolved, that voters be registered in a way that makes it impossible for “ghost voters”, that all parties should have equal access to the state media and that international observers should be invited to elections. Among the parties behind the demands were Morgan Tsvangirais Democratic Change Movement (MDC) and the National People’s Party (NPP), founded in 2016 by former Vice President Joice Mujuru under the name Zimbabwe’s People First (ZPF). In April, both parties agreed to cooperate ahead of the 2018 elections. In August, Tsvangirai also made peace with the various outbreak groups that left his MDC and formed his own parties.
That same month, a number of Zimbabwean civil rights organizations expressed their dissatisfaction that the African Union had suspended the publication of a critical report on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe during its Ethiopian summit. The African leaders stated that it was not a suspension but a postponement to give the government time to respond to the charges. The report had already been prepared in 2002 by the Union Human Rights Commission. It demonstrated the government’s involvement in torture cases, arbitrary arrests of opposition MPs and human rights advocates. It also demonstrated the existence of a series of laws that restrict freedom of expression.
In October, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was declared innocent in the charges of treason and attempted murder of Robert Mugabe. However, Tsvangirai is also charged under other treason para. Joyce Mujuru was inaugurated as Vice President in December.
In January 2005, Mugabe purged Zanu-PF for a number of senior members. He also put one of the country’s richest men, Philip Chiyangwa, in jail on a charge of espionage. This happened after Chiyangwa criticized Mugabe for his election of vice presidents. That same month, information emerged about systematic persecution and torture of MDC members – as the regime’s preparation for the March elections. A report pointed out that it was immediately necessary to help $ 6 million. Zimbabweans out of the 12.5 million there is a lack of food. The United States defined Zimbabwe as one of the 6 “bastions of tyranny” in the world. The other 5 on the US blacklist were Belarus, North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Myanmar.
In March, ZANU-PF got 2/3 of the votes in the parliamentary elections. Tsvangirai characterized the election “as a massive election fraud”.
In May-June, tens of thousands of illegal and miserable housing and street shops were leveled to the ground in an operation to “clean out the big city” but offered no alternative for the homeless. Acc. estimates by the UN affected the clearings of 700,000 people.
In August, allegations against Tsvangirai for treason were withdrawn. In November, ZANU-PF gained a large majority in the Senate election, which was restored after 6 years of one-chamber system.
UN Deputy Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, after a visit to Zimbabwe in December, declared that the country was “about to break”.