John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe: Unjust Rewards?

by John Campbell
August 20, 2013

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd gathered to commemorate Heroes Day in Harare August 12, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)


Only weeks after he won Zimbabwe’s sham elections, Robert Mugabe was elected deputy chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Malawi’s president Joyce Banda was elected chairperson. After she completes her one-year term, Mugabe will become the chairperson. SADC, for the time being, has embraced Mugabe.

Opposition groups, human rights organizations, non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe, and the government of Botswana–a SADC member–have called on the SADC summit to discuss the recent Zimbabwe elections, but it declined to do so.

Zimbabwe’s chief opposition figure, Morgan Tsvangirai, earlier said his party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), would challenge the election results in the court. However, he formally withdrew his challenge on August 15.  According to the MDC spokesman, the party withdrew because it was clear that the constitutional court was in Mugabe’s pocket.  Further, the Zimbabwean Elections Committee, also in Mugabe’s pocket, refused to make available material pertaining to the elections that would be key to the MDC case.

So, for now, Mugabe looks unchallenged at home and abroad.

But, South African human rights activists are reporting growing numbers of Zimbabweans entering South Africa and Botswana because of increased tension and fear. They are also reporting shortages in Zimbabwe of staples such as cooking oil. Both of these were signs of unrest after the elections in 2008 as well, which later led to violence.

It remains to be seen what Tsvangirai and the MDC will do next, and what the Zimbabwean people (or some of them) will do.

Post a Comment 4 Comments

  • Posted by Black Rhino

    Africa’s Hitler as he claims is at it again.

  • Posted by Chike

    If you spend time talking to ordinary Zimbabweans, you’ll realise that Mugabe is a lot more popular than Western media would have us believe.

  • Posted by Keith

    i did not want to comment but i had to when i saw in your article you claim that there are shortages in staples such as cooking oil and that there was violence. It would be fair to reader if you validated those claims and also to tell us where and when there was violence.
    I am concerned because i live in Harare, and last time i checked, yesterday when i was doing my shopping around town there was plenty of everything and i have not seen or heard of any violence. Which leaves me wondering where you got that from and which incidents are these????????

  • Posted by Rob

    Whatever the conditions in Harare and its not the whole country, people continue to to flow out of Zimbabwe to SA , the UK and elsewhere and Western leaders and businessmen and women have little confidence in Robert Mugabe and his political machinations. To appoint him to such an important position in the SADC is a setback to growth and development in Southern African unless a much larger role for China in the region is the ultimate goal of the majority of SADC members.

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