By: Neal Kisor, News Writer
To millions of people all around the world elections and handing over power within a government is a momentous, if not expected, event. America elects a new president and a whole swath of congressmen. Germany recently re-elected Chancellor Angela Merkel. Last year, China implemented its thirteenth “Five-year plan”. However, not all countries are fortunate enough to have changes of power go so smoothly. Zimbabwe is one of them.
After the various reforms to Africa imposed by European empires, Zimbabwe went through turbulent years of fighting and conflict until it was granted independence in 1980 by Britain. The leader of this new country was Canaan Banana, but this was only in name. The real leader was Robert Mugabe, the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
In 1983-1984 Mugabe lead a campaign known as the “Gukurahundi”. During this campaign he, and his “Fifth Brigade”- a unit of North Korean trained troops, massacred an estimated 20,000 Zimbabwe dissidents. Only three years later in 1987 did Robert Mugabe take power as President of Zimbabwe. There he ruled until just last week for a thirty-year term.
However, his long rule was not due to recurring votes. In 2008, Mugabe accidently let it slip that the opposing party won a full 73% of the vote. Tampering with the vote was just the beginning of Mugabe’s scandals though. Under Zimbabwe’s “Fast Track Land Reform” minority white farmers got their land seized and redistributed to black farmers. This, along with droughts and increasing poverty meant that Zimbabwe’s exports dropped to dangerous lows. During that period, over half of Zimbabwe was at “very high food insecurity” levels.
The growing poverty of Zimbabwe eventually reached a fever-pitch. On November 14th the Zimbabwe Defense Force initiated a coup d’etat which targeted Mugabe and many key government officials. The Zimbabwe Defense Force blamed these officials for creating the “socio-economic problems of Zimbabwe”. The ninety-three-year-old Mugabe eventually sent a letter to the Zimbabwe parliament announcing his resignation, but only after adamantly claiming that he was going to remain president.
Following Mugabe’s resignation his vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in. Mnangagwa served as a senior member of Mugabe’s cabinet for many years. Mnangagwa vowed to serve Zimbabwe’s citizens first and laid out the blueprints for his plan to revive Zimbabwe’s economy. Particularly, he plans to fix the problems which occurred due to the “Fast Track Land Reform”. Mnangagwa wants Zimbabwe to rise as an agricultural leader for Africa and to bring his country’s economy back up from the brink. However, some doubt Mnangagwa because of his role as vice-president. Mnangagwa’s vows seem t