Zimbabwe. It was not until February 2009 that the unifying government could be formed under which President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai signed an agreement as early as September 2008. By then, Parliament had first adopted a constitutional amendment that created a new post as prime minister, weight for Tsvangirai, and a court laid a treason charge against Tsvangirai’s close co-worker Tendai Biti, which allowed him to take on the almost hopeless task of trying as a finance minister to try to fix Zimbabwe’s wrecked economy. Shortly after the New Year, the central bank issued a new banknote in the record denomination of 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars, worth just over SEK 200. According to countryaah, the bank had stopped announcing figures for the inflation level, which was at hundreds of millions of percent. An attempt to curb inflation was made in February, when twelve zeros were deleted and a whole new set of banknotes were put into circulation. In the same vein, it was allowed to use the US dollar and the South African rand in daily trading, which in practice led to no longer using the domestic currency, which was soon also formally abolished.
The unification of a unifying government did not mean that cooperation between Mugabe’s party ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front) and Tsvangirai’s MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) improved. On the same day that the government was to be installed, MDC representative Roy Bennett, a white former big farmer who was to become Deputy Minister of Agriculture, was arrested. He was first charged with treason, which was then changed to plans to collect weapons to disrupt social order. He was released on bail after one month. The occupation of agriculture owned by whites gained new momentum in the same vein as the unification government took office. Morgan Tsvangirai complained after a few months of reign that his party sympathizers were still subjected to harassment, violence and arrests by the Mugabe faithful police. Human rights activists were arrested and disappeared in unknown detention centers. A July conference on a new democratic constitution was interrupted by “war veterans” – a common term for ZANU-PF supporters – who stormed into the meeting room. Even in September, Tsvangirai noted that disagreement over the distribution of important items undermined cooperation.
At some points improvements were seen. The demolition of its own currency caused inflation to slow down. Price increases towards the end of the year were down to almost 0 percent. In addition, the economy strengthened by 4.7 percent during the year, the first growth in twelve years. While Tsvangirai got the cold when he traveled around Europe and the United States in June to appeal for financial aid, neighboring southern Africa granted US $ 400 million, and from China came a US $ 950 million loan. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted 400 million in September. However, these sums were still far from the approximately US $ 8 billion that the government felt was necessary to get the country in order. The opposition newspaper The Daily News regained its publishing license after five years of forced silence. The cholera epidemic that erupted in 2008,
But just a month later, MDC’s Roy Bennett was arrested again and put on trial for plans to try to overthrow Mugabe by force. The arrest caused Tsvangirai and MDC to boycott the government meetings for a few weeks. After mediating from South African politicians, they interrupted the boycott, but gave Mugabe a month’s notice to resolve all disputes.
Formed in 1999, MDC was weakened by a split in 2005 when two factions emerged: one (MDC-T) led by Morgan Tsvangirai and another (MDC-M) led by Arthur Mutambara – with the former being by far the largest. The two factions announced after the 2008 election they wanted to merge. Contradictions within ZANU-PF were partly about strategies in relation to MDC and the distribution of power, and partly about the takeover of power after Mugabe resigned as the undisputed leader (which only happened in 2017). Mugabe was re-elected as party leader on ZANUs party congress in December 2009 – and thus also as the party’s presidential candidate 2013. As the party’s vice president, John Nkomo, one Ndebele and ally with Secretary of Defense Emmerson Mnangagwa, elected. Mnangagwa controlled the state’s power apparatus, and formed one of the main factions of ZANU-PF. The second was led by the couple Joice and Solomon Mujuru, both veterans of the liberation struggle, the former Zimbabwe Vice President in the period 2004–2014. Zimbabwe’s top military leadership, most notably a visible security group known as the Joint Operations Command (JOC), which is also linked to the violence to influence elections, had great influence, both within ZANU-PF and towards Mugabe.
Early in the morning on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, the military in Zimbabwe took over large parts of the state apparatus and placed President Mugabe in house arrest. The bloodless coup was a reaction to Mugabe’s resignation of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa a week earlier, which the military and many in the ruling party believed was a maneuver to make sure Mugabe’s 41-year-old wife, Grace, could take over the post of president after the 93-year-old. Mugabe was pressured to announce his own departure, which he finally did on November 21. He died in 2019.
On November 24, 2017, Mnangagwa was sworn in as the country’s new president, stating that he wanted to restore democracy and get the chess economy back on track. Although many Zimbabweans are skeptical of Mnangagwa as well, the deposition of Mugabe’s has generally been welcomed by large sections of the population.