Torture, Inflation and Tension in Zimbabwe

In 1980 the existence of Southern Rhodesia, a British colony, was terminated and an independent country was formed. Its name was, and still is, Zimbabwe. Twenty-eight years before nowadays, a national hero contributed significantly to the country’s independence and became its first president. This national hero, Robert Mugabe, is still alive which is nothing out of ordinary. What is out of ordinary is, he is still president of the country. In other words, he has been the first and the only president of Zimbabwe so far.

For today’s political conceptions, such lengthy tenure is called dictatorship. Today’s world hasn’t heard of a country’s most influential political position being occupied for such a long period of time by a person who turns out to not be a dictator regardless of how good the people live. However, without proving anything and just talking in general only, every statement is weak and not worthy of being paid attention to.

Without having read any books about the situation in Zimbabwe, I endorse the media’s statement that it used to be one of the most powerful countries in Africa and that it has been technically ruined so far. The media sometimes tends to intentionally or unintentionally control, and thus distort, our idea of what is happening where and why. This time, however, there is no place for any doubt.

Economists know their job and their research is not based on hypotheses that everyone can make by just a snap. And, according to their research, for the last fifteen years or so Zimbabwe’s economy has not only been in huge recession, it has also reached a devastating inflation of over 100000%, the world’s highest, and it keeps growing every day.

Zimbabwe’s economic situation is such that almost each of its citizens is billionaire not because Zimbabweans are as rich as Bill Gates is, but because the country’s currency is so devaluated that Z$10 billion are times less valuable in Zimbabwe than $10 dollars are in the U.S. As a result, seeing a Z$10 billion banknote on the street without noticing anybody making a bare effort to grab it is not unusual, not to mention the fact that people die of hunger and AIDS and other illnesses.

I remember reading on the BBC’s website about a Zimbabwean woman who complained of her salary being so insufficient that she could not buy anything besides a chewing gum.

Moreover, supply of goods in general is so scarce that entering a grocery store in search for food is next to ridiculous.

This is the result of Robert Mugabe’s rule. The wretched condition of the economy started in the mid-1990s. Until then, analysts point out that Zimbabwe’s economy used to be one of the best ones in Africa.

As a result of the hopeless situation in Zimbabwe, people want change. They want it even more desperately than Americans, who vote for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, do. There can’t be a debate whether or not the Zimbabwean people need change: there is outrageous 80% unemployment in the country, not to mention the humiliating life expectancy of 37 years and, last but not least, absence of democracy.

This absence of democracy is often seen in beating up of opposition leaders and supporters. MDC, Movement for Democratic Change, leader Morgan Tsvangirai ran for president in 2002. He lost in a contest that international watchdogs called rigged. It was believed that Morgan Tsvangirai won the elections but Robert Mugabe and his party, ZANU-PF, rigged them. Mr. Tsvangirai has even been charged and acquitted with plotting to assassinate President Mugabe and was beaten severely by state police security forces.

Despite the uncomfortable conditions in his patrimony, Morgan Tsvangirai continued fighting. He decided to run for president again in this year’s elections which started two months ago. Since then there is still no result in terms of who the new president is.

In the beginning there was a dispute between Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC), MDC and ZANU-PF. According to MDC, Mugabe had got 50.3% of the vote whereas ZANU-PF and ZEC pointed out that he had got less than 50% of the vote which calls for walk-off general elections for president.

There were several tortures toward MDC supporters reported so far in Zimbabwe, some of which resulted in death. The government’s aim was clear – vote for Mugabe or risk jeopardizing your life. This was what MDC and the world community feared in the beginning, and unfortunately they turned out to be right. Mr Tsvangirai even received death threats as a result of which he went to South Africa, a country part of whose poor population, mainly Zulus, embarked on scaring away foreigners such as Mozambicans, Zimbabweans, Nigerians and others who occupied jobs that they would occupy.

The run-off general elections for president in Zimbabwe are going to take place in the end of June and they are extremely important for the country. Having Mr. Mugabe as re-elected president of Zimbabwe will most likely bring the country to greater inflation, poverty and possibly isolation from the rest of the world with few exceptions. Having Mr. Tsvangirai as elected president may not necessarily bring change but vague future is way better than predicted failure. However, no matter what the final result of the run-off elections is, it will not be as genuine as it should be thanks to Robert Mugabe and his party’s interior politics of fear.

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Filed under Civil Rights and Liberties, Economy, Politics

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