Zimbabwe Politics since the 1980’s
At the time of independence, obtained in 1980, Zimbabwe represented in some ways a paradox: it was a country governed by an openly Marxist-Leninist leadership, with an economic program of socialist inspiration, but in which the white minority (less than 2 % of the population) enjoyed extraordinary political and above all economic privileges. The Whites were entitled to 20 % of the seats in the new Parliament and the ownership of the most productive lands was confirmed. The 78 % of the most fertile soils in fact belonged to the white minority and it was concentrated in the hands of about 4000 owners. The 75 % of the less productive lands were assigned to the Blacks, often as undivided property in the Tribal Trust Lands, which became Commonal Lands with independence.
According to topschoolsintheusa, these constraints certainly contributed to making the transition relatively painless, especially considering the bloody war of liberation that preceded it and the 25 years of ruthless segregation, and avoided the exodus of many technical and professional skills, but, at least in part, mortgaged the future of the country. In the years immediately following independence, the government – despite the state’s finances being severely tested by military engagement in Mozambique, where the guerrillas, backed by South Africa, threatened the vital links of the Zimbabwe with the port of Beira – managed to investing large resources in education and health, making use of a state apparatus of considerable capacity and practicing an anomalous form of autocracy, in which an unusual level of cultural debate and attitudes of violent repression coexisted, in particular towards the union and students. The agrarian question, despite sometimes very radical laws and pronouncements, it did not find an easy solution and remained substantially unresolved, increasing the tensions between the main ethnic groups present in the country (Shona and Ndebele) and contributing to increasing the dissatisfaction of the population with a government greeted its settlement by an authentic and widespread consent. Dissatisfaction worsened in the late 1980s, when growth in public spending and difficulties in promoting self-sustaining expansion led to a severe worsening of foreign debt, forcing Zimbabwe dissatisfaction of the population with a government greeted at its inauguration by an authentic and widespread consensus. Dissatisfaction worsened in the late 1980s, when growth in public spending and difficulties in promoting self-sustaining expansion led to a severe worsening of foreign debt, forcing Zimbabwe dissatisfaction of the population with a government greeted at its inauguration by an authentic and widespread consensus. Dissatisfaction worsened in the late 1980s, when growth in public spending and difficulties in promoting self-sustaining expansion led to a severe worsening of foreign debt, forcing Zimbabwe 1991, coinciding with the worst drought of the century, to accept a policy of structural adjustment, which certainly contributed to worsening the living conditions of the population.
Despite the growing popular discontent, R. Mugabe, whose government had assumed an increasingly personalistic and authoritarian character, also due to the absence of a credible opposition, was re-elected, in March 1996, to the presidency of the Republic with 92 % of the the votes, but with a turnout of only 31, 7 % of those eligible. After his re-election Mugabe relaunched the agrarian reform policy, first in 1996, establishing that foreign investors could acquire farms, but only if located in climatically disadvantaged areas, and then in 1997, implementing an expropriation program. However, if the development plan of the 1982 – 85 provided for the allocation of 8 million has blacks to farmers in 1997 were filled 3, 4 million very often entrusted to new owners great blacks. While announcing the abandonment of Marxism-Leninism, the government accentuated its illiberal profile until it severely limited in 1998 by law the right to strike. A further problem, both political and financial, raised the decision to send troops in support of the Kabila government in Congo: a decisive intervention in spite of N. Mandela’s critical attitude of South Africa, towards whose charismatic hegemony Mugabe expressed on several occasions a critical impatience. The birth of the new South Africa, in fact, if it contributed to improving the political conditions and economic potential of the whole area, objectively reduced the continental role of Zimbabwe. While retaining one of the most significant potential in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of education level, infrastructure, state apparatus and productive diversification, the Zimbabwe was in a stalemate at the end of the nineties, with an elderly president and without an evident strategic plan, with an asphyxiated political life unable to take decisive steps towards democratization, with widespread corruption, with a land problem that increased social instability, having also to deal with a diffusion of the AIDS epidemic among the highest in Africa. The elements of crisis intensified in February 2000, when the proposal to give the president new powers was rejected in a referendum, including that of expropriating land without compensation. The outcome of the referendum represented a clear defeat for Mugabe who was faced, for the first time, with strong opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change. In a climate of growing tension, in March and April, the veterans of the liberation war, with the first tacit and then explicit support of the government, occupied numerous farms owned by the Whites, triggering a spiral of violence and undermining the traditional good relations with Great Britain.