The current government of Zimbabwe has been run by Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National Unity-Patriotic Front party or ZANU-PF since 1980. He served as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987 and as the executive head of state since 1987. Since the run-off election of June, 2008, his legitimacy has been called into question.
The opposition party the Movement for Democratic change, headed by Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the run-off citing widespread violence against his followers. Dozens of opposition supporters have been killled and thousands injured.
Either because of Mugabe's mismanagement or because he does not care, the infrastructure of his country has broken down resulting in a mass outbreak of cholera causing anywhere from 600 to 1400 deaths so far.
Without proper help being provided by hospitals many people from Zimbabwe flee the country. Aside from the poor living conditions, the economy in Zimbabwe has drastically plummeted as inflation has reached levels as high as 231 million percent. At the current moment one US dollar is worth two million Zim dollars. Something as simple as a loaf of bread costs 35 million Zim dollars. This would not be a problem except The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had capped maximum daily withdrawals at 500,000 Zimbabwean dollars: about 25 U.S. cents, or about a quarter of the price of a loaf of bread.
Operation Murambastvina is a large scale Zimbabwean government campaign to forcibly clear slum areas across the country. The campaign started in 2005 and according to United Nations estimates has affected at least 2.4 million people.Robert Mugabe and other government officials characterize the operation as a crackdown against illegal housing and commercial activities, and as an effort to reduce the risk of the spread of infectious disease in these areas. Robert Mugabe has translated this to mean "Operation Clean-up" when quite literally murambatsvina means "get rid of the filth".
The U.N.'s report on Operation Murambatsvina says on the humanitarian response: "The humanitarian consequences of Operation Restore Order are enormous. It will take several years before the people and society as a whole can recover. There is an immediate need for the Government of Zimbabwe to recognise the virtual state of emergency that has resulted, and to allow unhindered access by the international and humanitarian community to assist those that have been affected. Priority needs include shelter and non-food items, food and health support services."
Future of Zimbabwe
The run-off election that Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of was held because while Morgan Tsvangirai had the greater percentage of 48% over Mugabe's 43%, neither had a majority. Tsvangirai pulled out of the run-off and Mugabe won by a landslide. He was sworn in on the 20th of June. In response to this election, the African Union called for a "government of national unity". Preliminary talks to set up conditions for official negotiations began between leading negotiators from both parties on July 10th. Negotiations between the parties officially began on 25 July and are currently proceeding with very few details released from the negotiation teams in Pretoria, as coverage by the media is barred from the premises where the negotiations are taking place. Mugabe contends that he must control key cabinet portfolios, including home affairs which controls the police and immigration and maintains the list of voters which has often been at the center of election challenges. Home affairs, under ZANU-PF, has refused Mr. Tsvangirai a passport for nearly six months. Tsvangirai says that in a power-sharing deal, he carries responsibilities but has little power for his movement for Democratic change. The main question on everyone's mind is: with Mugabe still in the seat of power and Tsvangirai having little to no power, will Zimbabwe improve?
"Hyperinflation Forces Zimbabwe to Print $200 Million Notes." CNN world. 6 December 2008. CNN. 6 Dec 2008 http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/12/06/zimbabwe.currency/index.html.
"Economy." Movement for Democratic Change. Movement for Democratic Change. 6 Dec 2008 http://www.mdc.co.zw/economy.asp.
Beaubien, Jason. "Uprooting Zimbabwe's Shantytowns." NPR. 2005. National Public Radio. 6 Dec 2008 http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/2005/june/zimbabwe/gallerylow/gallery.html.