Morgan Tsvangirai

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Posted by motoman 03/06/2009 @ 11:11

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News headlines
Weak rule of law stalls Zimbabwe aid: Tsvangirai - AFP
HARARE (AFP) — Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday blamed ongoing violations of Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal for stalling efforts to win desperately needed foreign aid for the three-month-old unity government. Despite the signing of the...
Zimbabwe Secures Over $1 Billion in Loans From Africa - Bloomberg
Mangoma was speaking at the inauguration of a 100-day plan for the southern African nation's coalition government that joins President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for...
Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Takes Long View on Power-Sharing Government - Voice of America
By Benedict Nhlapho Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday downplayed ongoing divisions in the national unity government he heads, saying that the principals in power-sharing are making progress on resolving issues still outstanding three months...
Zimbabwe court frees journalists - Aljazeera.net
The statements were included in an article about the alleged abductions of activists and supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai, the country's prime minister. Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe, the country's president, formed a unity government in February after...
One Quarter of Zimbabwe's Remaining White-Owned Farms Facing Takeovers - Voice of America
The office of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said last week that the cabinet had agreed to press ahead with a national land audit after receiving a report by a fact-finding panel led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara which toured some of the...
Masvingo MDC demands to choose governor - Zimbabwe Times
By Owen Chikari MASVINGO- The MDC provincial executive in Masvingo has approached Morgan Tsvangirai over the anticipated appointment of a provincial governor from the party amid suggestions the MDC leader has made a choice for the post....
Tsvangirai: MDC seeking to improve lives - United Press International
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, May 1 (UPI) -- Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says his Movement for Democratic Change party wants to improve the lives of the country's citizens. Speaking with party officials in the city of Bulawayo, Tsvangirai said...
The origin of Mutambara's current political predicament - Zimbabwe Telegraph
It now appears as if the MDC fraction's membership and supporters are belatedly refusing “kugarwa nhaka namutambara” whilst founding MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is still alive. Goran Hyden writing about the thorny problems derailing the political,...
Tsvangirai plays down Mugabe dispute - Financial Times
“We had to express ourselves with the frustration with resolving some of the outstanding issues [including Zanu PF's control of the central bank and the continued detention of MDC political prisoners] but there is no deadline,” Morgan Tsvangirai told...
Tsvangirai at Zuma inauguration with mystery woman - Zimbabwe Guardian
PRIME MINISTER Morgan Tsvangirai was accompanied by his niece to the inauguration of South Africa's new President Jacob Zuma, not by a new woman in his life as many people had speculated. A photograph of the Prime Minister and a woman now known to be...

Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Richard Tsvangirai (English IPA: /ˈtʃæŋɡɪraɪ/; Shona IPA: , born 10 March 1952) is the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. He is the President of the Movement for Democratic Change - Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and a key figure in the opposition to President Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe on 11 February 2009.

Tsvangirai was the MDC candidate in the controversial 2002 presidential election, losing to Mugabe. He later contested the first round of the 2008 presidential election as the MDC-T candidate, taking 47.8% of the vote according to official results, placing him ahead of Mugabe, who got 43.2%. Tsvangirai claimed to have won a majority and said that the results could have been altered in the month between the election and the reporting of official results. Tsvangirai initially planned to run in the second round against Mugabe, but withdrew shortly before it was held, arguing the election would not be free and fair due to widespread violence and intimidation by government supporters.

Tsvangirai was born in the Gutu area in then-Southern Rhodesia, the eldest of nine children and the son of a carpenter and bricklayer. After leaving school early, in 1974 he started working for the Trojan Nickel Mine in Mashonaland Central. He spent ten years at the mine, rising from plant operator to plant supervisor. His current rural home is Buhera, which is 220 km south east of Harare.

At independence in 1980 Morgan Tsvangirai, who was then aged 28, joined the then popular and victorious Zanu-PF party led by the man who was later to become his biggest political rival, Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai is reported to have been an ardent Mugabe supporter and to have risen "swiftly in the hierarchy", eventually becoming one of the party's senior officials. He is also known for his role in the Zimbabwean trade union movement, where he held the position of branch chairman of the Associated Mine Workers' Union and was later elected into the executive of the National Mine Workers' Union. In 1989 he became the Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the umbrella trade union organization of Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai led the ZCTU away from the ruling Zanu PF. As his power and that of the movement grew, his relationship with the Government deteriorated. He has had at least three assassination attempts, including one in 1997 where unknown assailants burst into his tenth storey office and tried to throw him out of the window.

This was a barbaric operation by Zanu-PF. It should never have happened. It was a sad episode in our history and the MDC will obviously want to see justice being done if it comes to power. Such human rights abuses should be revisited and those responsible will have to account for their actions.

Morgan Tsvangirai served as Chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) in 1997, which was formed to gather individual Zimbabwean citizens and civic organisations including labour movements, student and youth groups, women's groups, churches, business groups and human rights organisations. These individuals and groups formed the NCA to campaign for constitutional reform after realising that the political, social and economic problems affecting Zimbabwe were mainly a result of the defective Lancaster House constitution and could only be resolved through a new and democratic constitution. He stepped down after being elected president of the MDC.

In 2001 Morgan Tsvangirai was awarded the Solidar Silver Rose Award. The award was for outstanding achievement by an individual or organization in the activities of civil society and in bringing about a fairer and more just society.

At a crucial period for world stability, the Solidar Silver Rose Award winners “show the positive change that can be brought about by determined individuals and organizations”, the citation read.

In 1999 Tsvangirai found and organised the Movement for Democratic Change, an opposition party opposed to President Robert Mugabe and the ZANU-PF ruling party. He helped to defeat the February 2000 constitutional referendum, successfully campaigning against it along with the National Constitutional Assembly.

Tsvangirai lost the March 2002 presidential election to Mugabe. The election provoked widespread allegations that Mugabe had rigged the election through the use of violence, media bias, and manipulation of the voters' roll leading to abnormally high pro-Mugabe turnout in some areas.

Tsvangirai was arrested after the 2000 elections and charged with treason; this charge was later dismissed. In 2004, Tsvangirai was acquitted of treason for an alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe in the run-up to the 2002 presidential elections. George Bizos, a South African human rights lawyer who was part of the team that defended Nelson Mandela & Walter Sisulu in the famous South African Rivonia Trial in 1964, headed Morgan Tsvangirai's defence team.

Tsvangirai was arrested after the government alleged that he had threatened President Robert Mugabe. The Movement for Democratic Change leader had told 40,000 supporters at a rally in Harare that if Mr Mugabe did not want to step down before the next elections scheduled for 2002 "we will remove you violently." However, Tsvangirai said that he was giving a warning to President Mugabe to consider history. "There is a long line of dictators who have refused to go peacefully — and the people have removed them violently," he said.

The courts dismissed the charges.

From Monday, 2 June, up to today, 6 June, Mugabe was not in charge of this country. He was busy marshaling his forces of repression against the sovereign will of the people of Zimbabwe. However, even in the context of the brutalities inflicted upon them, the people's spirit of resistance was not broken. The sound of gunfire will never silence their demand for change and freedom.

On 11 March 2007 a day after his 55th birthday, Tsvangirai was arrested on his way to a prayer rally in the Harare township of Highfield.

His wife was allowed to see him in prison, after which she reported that he had been heavily tortured by police, resulting in deep gashes on his head and a badly swollen eye. The event garnered an international outcry.

He was tortured by a Special Forces of Zimbabwe unit based at the army’s Cranborne Barracks on 12 March 2007 after being arrested and held at Machipisa Police Station in the Highfield suburb of Harare.

A Zimbabwean freelance cameraman, Edward Chikombo, smuggled television pictures of Morgan Tsvangirai's injuries following the beating.

Chikombo was later abducted from his home in the Glenview township outside Harare. His body was discovered the next weekend near the village of Darwendale, 50 miles (80 km) west of Harare.

There has been a pattern of abductions and punishment beatings where scores of opposition activists and their relatives have been attacked by government-sanctioned gangs using unmarked cars and police-issue weapons.

According to lawyer Tendai Biti, the Secretary-General of the MDC and an MP for Harare East, who was arrested along with Tsvangirai, Tsvangirai suffered a cracked skull and "must have passed out at least three times." Tsvangirai was subsequently admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at a local hospital. Reports from BBC News indicate that Tsvangirai suffered from a fractured skull and received blood transfusions for internal bleeding. Although the incident was a clear case of political violence, Tsvangirai has since had very little political support from surrounding African countries.

Tsvangirai was released, but on 28 March 2007, Zimbabwean police stormed the Movement for Democratic Change, 44 Harvest House, national headquarters and once again arrested him, hours before he was to speak with the media about recent political violence in the country.

The arrest of Tsvangirai and a crackdown on opposition officials that followed was widely condemned.

On 25 October 2007 it was reported that Nhamo Musekiwa who was Morgan Tsvangirai's bodyguard since the formation of the MDC in 1999, had died from complications resulting from injuries sustained in March, 2007, during a crackdown by the government. The MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Musekiwa had been vomiting blood since 11 March 2007, when he is alleged to have been severely beaten by police along with other opposition officials and members including Tsvangirai himself. That day police halted a prayer meeting and in the ensuing confrontation one MDC activist was shot dead.

Tsvangirai was due to arrive in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Saturday, 17 May 2008, but a party spokesman said he was staying in Europe after a credible assassination plot was discovered. On Friday, 16 May 2008, he held a press conference at the Europa Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Morgan Tsvangirai was detained by police while campaigning on Wednesday, 4 June 2008, after being stopped at a police roadblock. Tsvangirai and a group of 14 party officials were held at a police station in Lupane. This was claimed by Tsvangirai, and widely believed by human rights groups, to be a tactic to disrupt his campaign for the 27 June elections. Tsvangirai was accused by police of threatening public security by addressing a gathering without prior authorisation. His detention was vigorously protested by the United States and various European governments. He was released without charge after eight hours. Tsvangirai commented that this was "nothing but the usual harassment which is totally unnecessary." The police also confiscated one of the security vehicles in the entourage. During this time, Mugabe was in Rome at a conference on food security. However, chief police spokesperson of Zimbabwe Wayne Bvudzijena said Tsvangirai's convoy was stopped because one of the vehicles did not have proper registration. The driver of the vehicle was asked to accompany the police to the station, but others in the party insisted on following the driver to the station. This was followed by the brief detention of diplomats from the United States and United Kingdom.

On 6 June 2008 he was again stopped at a police checkpoint and blocked from attending a pre-election rally at How Mine, near the southern city of Bulawayo. According to the chairman of the Movement for Democratic Change, Lovemore Moyo, the police said they should have informed the police in advance of Tsvangirai visiting the area.

In August 2007, Tsvangirai met Prime Minister of Australia John Howard in Melbourne, and after talks told the media that countries like Australia can play a very important role in the struggle against President Robert Mugabe's regime.

In September 2007, it was widely reported that Tsvangirai met Thabo Mbeki, the President of South Africa for crucial talks on how to speed up talks between the ruling ZANU PF and the Movement for Democratic Change party.

In May 2008, Tsvangirai met Raila Odinga, the Prime Minister of Kenya, who urged him to contest an election run-off against Mugabe.

A presidential election and parliamentary election was held on 29 March 2008. The three major candidates were Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni, an independent.

The MDC photographed data at each polling station to collate for electoral results. Whenever the MDC collects this kind of information the government raids their offices, hoping to confiscate the data. The MDC now keeps the data abroad. A short time after the election, the Government ordered weapons of war from China, to be transported through South Africa. The official results of the presidential election's first round were finally released on 2 May 2008 and hotly contested by the MDC representatives. According to the results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Tsvangirai won the first round, amassing 47.9% of the votes against 43.2% claimed by Mugabe. This meant that no candidate had the necessary 50% plus one vote to be declared the winner after the first round and a run-off would be needed. MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa called the announced results "scandalous daylight robbery." The MDC continued to assert that it won an outright victory in the first round with 50.3% of the votes..

Tsvangirai, who was outside of Zimbabwe, primarily in South Africa, for a significant period following the first round of the election, announced on 10 May that he would participate in a presidential run-off with Mugabe. Tsvangirai said that this second round should take place within the three week period following the announcement of results that is specified by the Electoral Act. He made his participation conditional on "unfettered access of all international observers," the "reconstitution" of the Electoral Commission, and free access for the media, including the international press.

On 13 May 2008, Tsvangirai stated that he would be willing to compete in the run-off if at least Southern African Development Community election observers would be present, softening his previous demand for free access to all international observers. It was subsequently announced that the second round would be held on 27 June; the MDC denounced this delay.

Although Tsvangirai had been expected to return to Zimbabwe on 17 May, the MDC announced his return was delayed due to a claimed plot to assassinate him. The party claimed that military intelligence was in charge of the alleged plot, while the government dismissed the MDC's claims, saying that Tsvangirai was "playing to the international media gallery." Some observers suggested at this time that Tsvangirai's failure to return called into his question his leadership qualities and made it appear that he was afraid of Mugabe and unwilling to risk coming to harm despite the risks taken by his supporters remaining in Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai returned to Zimbabwe from South Africa on 24 May.

Tsvangirai gave what he described as a state of the nation address to the newly elected MDC MPs on 30 May. On this occasion, he said that Zimbabwe was in "a state of despair" and was "an unmitigated embarrassment to the African continent" due to its economic situation, and he also said that those engaging in political violence would receive no amnesty from his government. He also described the MDC as "the new ruling party" and said that the MDC's legislative programme would be "based on the return of fundamental freedoms to the people of Zimbabwe." A new "people-driven constitution" would follow within 18 months, according to Tsvangirai, and a "truth and justice commission" would be established; the army would "defend our borders, not attack our people," while the prisons would "hold only criminals, not innocent people." He pledged that the party would introduce a new strategy combining "demand and supply-side measures" to bring inflation under control. Tsvangirai also promised the revival of agriculture, saying that the issue would be "completely depoliticised" and that there would be measures to "compensate or reintegrate" farmers who lost their land as part of land reform.

Tsvangirai was detained near Lupane on 4 June, along with his security team and other top MDC officials, such as MDC Vice-President Thokozani Khupe and MDC Chairman Lovemore Moyo. A lawyer for the MDC said that Tsvangirai was alleged to have addressed a rally near Lupane without permission. His vehicle was stopped by police at a roadblock and his motorcade was searched; after two hours, he was taken to a police station. The MDC described this as "part of a determined and well-orchestrated effort to derail our campaign programme," while the US government called the incident "deeply disturbing" and the German government demanded his release. Tsvangirai was released later that day after nine hours. Bvudzijena, the police spokesman, rejected any suggestion that the police were trying to interfere in Tsvangirai's campaign; he explained the detention by saying that the police had wanted to determine whether a vehicle in Tsvangirai's motorcade had valid registration. According to Bvudzijena, the police had wanted to take only the driver of this vehicle to the police station to review the relevant documents, but that Tsvangirai and the rest of his entourage insisted on coming as well.

On 22 June 2008, Tsvangirai announced at a press conference that he was withdrawing from the run-off, describing it as a "violent sham" and saying that his supporters risked being killed if they voted for him. He vowed that the MDC would ultimately prevail and that its victory could "only be delayed.". Shortly after making this announcement, Mr Tsvangirai sought refuge at the Dutch Embassy in Harare, citing concerns for his safety. He did not seek political asylum.

On 22 July 2008, Tsvangirai and Mutambara met Mugabe face-to-face and shook hands with him for the first time in over a decade for negotiations in Harare, orchestrated by Mbeki, aiming for a settlement of electoral disputes that would share power between the MDC and the ZANU-PF at the executive level.

This was followed by the beginning of clandestine negotiations between appointed emissaries from both parties in Pretoria; these negotiations are ongoing as of this writing. The media images of hands being shaken between the political rivals also set a stark contrast to the ongoing partisan violence taking place in both the rural and urban areas of Zimbabwe.

On 15 September 2008, the leaders of the 14-member Southern African Development Community witnessed the signing of the power-sharing agreement, brokered by South African leader Thabo Mbeki. With symbolic handshake and warm smiles at the Rainbow Towers hotel, in Harare, Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed the deal to end the violent political crisis. As provided, Robert Mugabe will remain president, Morgan Tsvangirai will become prime minister, the MDC will control the police, Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) will command the Army, and Arthur Mutambara becomes deputy prime minister.

In January 2009, Morgan Tsvangirai announced that he would do as the leaders across Africa had insisted and join a coalition government as prime minister with his nemesis, President Robert Mugabe . On 11 February 2009 Tsvangirai was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's adult literacy rate is amongst the highest in Africa

Zimbabwe (pronounced /zɪmˈbɑːbweɪ/), (officially the Republic of Zimbabwe and formerly Southern Rhodesia, the Republic of Rhodesia and Zimbabwe Rhodesia) is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the continent of Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. The official language of Zimbabwe is English, however the majority of the population speaks Shona; the native language of the Shona people, a Bantu language. Its other native language, Sindebele, is spoken by the Matabele people.

Zimbabwe today is in conflict over the reign of President Robert Mugabe. Human rights abuses and economic mismanagment leading to hyperinflation and impoverishment have increased popular support for newly sworn in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai.

The name Zimbabwe derives from "Dzimba dza mabwe" meaning "great house of stone" in the Shona language. Its use as the country's name is a tribute to Great Zimbabwe, site of the capital of the Empire of Great Zimbabwe. In other languages, such as German, the initial Z is replaced with an S so as to produce the same sound in the phonics of the said language; for example Zimbabwe is spelled "Simbabwe".

By the Middle Ages, there was a Bantu civilization in the region, as evidenced by ruins at Great Zimbabwe and other smaller sites, whose outstanding achievement is a unique dry stone architecture. Around the early 10th century, trade developed with Phoenicians on the Indian Ocean coast, helping to develop Great Zimbabwe in the 11th century. The state traded gold, ivory and copper for cloth and glass. It ceased to be the leading Shona state in the mid 15th century. From circa 1250–1629, the area that is known as Zimbabwe today was ruled under the Mutapa Empire, also known as Mwene Mutapa, Monomotapa or the Empire of Great Zimbabwe, which was renowned for its gold trade routes with Arabs. However, Portuguese settlers destroyed the trade and began a series of wars which left the empire in near collapse in the early 17th century. In 1834, the Ndebele people arrived while fleeing from the Zulu leader Shaka, making the area their new empire, Matabeleland. In 1837–38, the Shona were conquered by the Ndebele, who arrived from south of the Limpopo and forced them to pay tribute and concentrate in northern Zimbabwe. In the 1880s, the British arrived with Cecil Rhodes's British South Africa Company. In 1898, the name Southern Rhodesia was adopted.

In 1888, British colonialist Cecil Rhodes obtained a concession for mining rights from King Lobengula of the Ndebele peoples. Cecil Rhodes presented this concession to persuade the government of the United Kingdom to grant a royal charter to his British South Africa Company (BSAC) over Matabeleland, and its subject states such as Mashonaland. Rhodes sought permission to negotiate similar concessions covering all territory between the Limpopo River and Lake Tanganyika, then known as 'Zambesia'. In accordance with the terms of aforementioned concessions and treaties, Cecil Rhodes promoted the colonisation of the region's land, and British control over labour, precious metals and other mineral resources. In 1895 the BSAC adopted the name 'Rhodesia' for the territory of Zambesia, in honour of Cecil Rhodes. In 1898 'Southern Rhodesia' became the official denotation for the region south of the Zambezi, which later became Zimbabwe. The region to the north was administered separately by the BSAC and later named Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia).

The Shona staged unsuccessful revolts (known as Chimurenga) against encroachment upon their lands, by clients of BSAC and Cecil Rhodes in 1896 and 1897. Following the failed insurrections of 1896–97 the Ndebele and Shona groups became subject to Rhodes's administration thus precipitating European settlement en masse which led to land distribution disproportionately favouring Europeans, displacing the Shona, Ndebele, and other indigenous peoples.

Southern Rhodesia became a self-governing British colony in October 1923, subsequent to a 1922 referendum. Rhodesians served on behalf of the United Kingdom during World War II, mainly in the East African Campaign against Axis forces in Italian East Africa.

In 1953, in the face of African opposition, Britain consolidated the two colonies of Rhodesia with Nyasaland (now Malawi) in the ill-fated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which was dominated by Southern Rhodesia. Growing African nationalism and general dissent, particularly in Nyasaland, admonished Britain to dissolve the Union in 1963, forming three colonies. As colonial rule was ending throughout the continent and as African-majority governments assumed control in neighbouring Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland, the white-minority Rhodesia government led by Ian Smith made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom on 11 November, 1965. The United Kingdom deemed this an act of rebellion, but did not re-establish control by force. The white-minority government declared itself a "republic" in 1970. A civil war ensued, with Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU and Robert Mugabe's ZANU using assistance from the governments of Zambia and Mozambique. Although Smith's declaration was not recognised by the United Kingdom nor any other significant power, Southern Rhodesia dropped the designation 'Southern', and claimed nation status as the Republic of Rhodesia in 1970.

After the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), the British government requested United Nations economic sanctions against Rhodesia as negotiations with the Smith administration in 1966 and 1968 ended in stalemate. The Smith administration declared itself a republic in 1970 which was recognised only by South Africa, then governed by its apartheid administration. Over the years, the guerrilla fighting against Smith's UDI government intensified. As a result, the Smith government opened negotiations with the leaders of the Patriotic Fronts — Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), led by Robert Mugabe, and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), led by Joshua Nkomo.

In March 1978, with his regime near the brink of collapse, Smith signed an accord with three African leaders, led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa, who offered safeguards for white civilians. As a result of the Internal Settlement, elections were held in April 1979. The United African National Council (UANC) party won a majority in this election. On 1 June, 1979, the leader of UANC, Abel Muzorewa, became the country's prime minister and the country's name was changed to Zimbabwe Rhodesia. The internal settlement left control of the country's police, security forces, civil service and judiciary in white hands. It assured whites of about one-third of the seats in parliament. However, on June 12, the United States Senate voted to end economic sanctions against Zimbabwe Rhodesia.

Following the fifth Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held in Lusaka, Zambia from 1–7 August, 1979, the British government invited Muzorewa and the leaders of the Patriotic Front to participate in a constitutional conference at Lancaster House. The purpose of the conference was to discuss and reach agreement on the terms of an independence constitution and that elections should be supervised under British authority to enable Rhodesia to proceed to legal independence and the parties to settle their differences by political means. Lord Carrington, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, chaired the conference. The conference took place from 10 September–15 December 1979 with 47 plenary sessions. On 1 December 1979, delegations from the British and Rhodesian governments and the Patriotic Front signed the Lancaster House Agreement, ending the civil war.

Britain's Lord Soames was appointed governor to oversee the disarming of revolutionary guerrillas, the holding of elections and the granting of independence to an uneasy coalition government with Joshua Nkomo, head of ZAPU. In the elections of February 1980, Mugabe and his ZANU won a landslide victory.

There was however opposition to a Shona win in Matabeleland. In November 1980 Enos Nkala made remarks at a rally in Bulawayo, in which he warned ZAPU that ZANU would deliver a few blows against them. This started the first Entumbane uprising, in which ZIPRA and ZANLA fought for two days.

In February 1981 there was a second uprising, which spread to Glenville and also to Connemara in the Midlands. ZIPRA troops in other parts of Matabeleland headed for Bulawayo to join the battle, and ex-Rhodesian units had to come in to stop the fighting. Over 300 people were killed.

These uprisings led to what has become known as Gukurahundi (Shona: "the early rain which washes away thechaff before the spring rains") or the Matabeleland Massacres, which ran from 1982 until 1985. Mugabe used his North Korean trained Fifth Brigade to crush any resistance in Matabeleland. It has been estimated that 20,000 Matabele were murdered and buried in mass graves which they were forced to dig themselves and hundreds of others were allegedly tortured. The violence ended after ZANU and ZAPU reached a unity agreement in 1988 that merged the two parties, creating ZANU-PF.

Elections in March 1990 resulted in another victory for Mugabe and his party, which won 117 of the 120 election seats. Election observers estimated voter turnout at only 54% and found the campaign neither free nor fair.

During the 1990s students, trade unionists and workers often demonstrated to express their discontent with the government. Students protested in 1990 against proposals for an increase in government control of universities and again in 1991 and 1992 when they clashed with police. Trade unionists and workers also criticised the government during this time. In 1992 police prevented trade unionists from holding anti-government demonstrations. In 1994 widespread industrial unrest weakened the economy. In 1996 civil servants, nurses, and junior doctors went on strike over salary issues. The general health of the civilian population also began to significantly founder and by 1997 25% of the population of Zimbabwe had been infected by HIV, the AIDS virus.

Land issues, which the liberation movement had promised to solve, re-emerged as the main issue for the ruling party beginning in 1999. Despite majority rule and the existence of a "willing-buyer-willing-seller" land reform programme since the 1980s, ZANU (PF) claimed that whites made up less than 1% of the population but held 70% of the country's commercially viable arable land (though these figures are disputed by many outside the Government of Zimbabwe). Mugabe began to redistribute land to blacks in 2000 with a compulsory land redistribution.

The legality and constitutionality of the process has regularly been challenged in the Zimbabwean High and Supreme Courts; however, the policing agencies have rarely acted in accordance with court rulings on these matters. The chaotic implementation of the land reform led to a sharp decline in agricultural exports, traditionally the country's leading export producing sector. Mining and tourism have surpassed agriculture. As a result, Zimbabwe is experiencing a severe hard-currency shortage, which has led to hyperinflation and chronic shortages in imported fuel and consumer goods. In 2002, Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations on charges of human rights abuses during the land redistribution and of election tampering.

Following elections in 2005, the government initiated "Operation Murambatsvina", a purported effort to crack down on illegal markets and homes that had seen slums emerge in towns and cities. This action has been widely condemned by opposition and international figures, who charge that it has left a substantial section of urban poor homeless. The Zimbabwe government has described the operation as an attempt to provide decent housing to the population although they have yet to deliver any new housing for the forcibly removed people.

Zimbabwe's current economic and food crisis, described by some observers as the country's worst humanitarian crisis since independence, has been attributed in varying degrees, to a drought affecting the entire region, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the government's price controls and land reforms.

Life expectancy at birth for males in Zimbabwe has dramatically declined since 1990 from 60 to 37, among the lowest in the world. Life expectancy for females is even lower at 34 years. Concurrently, the infant mortality rate has climbed from 53 to 81 deaths per 1,000 live births in the same period. Currently, 1.8 million Zimbabweans live with HIV.

On 29 March, 2008, Zimbabwe held a presidential election along with a parliamentary election. The three major candidates were Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T), and Simba Makoni, an independent. The results of this election were withheld for several weeks, following which it was generally acknowledged that the MDC had achieved a significant majority of seats. However, Mugabe retained control and has not conceded the election results that would otherwise put him out of power.

In late 2008, problems in Zimbabwe reached crisis proportions in the areas of living standards, public health (with a major cholera outbreak in December) and various public considerations. Production of diamonds at Marange became the subject of international attention as more than 80 people were killed by the military and the World Diamond Council called for a clampdown on smuggling.

In September 2008, a power-sharing agreement, between Mugabe and Tsvangirai was reached, in which, while Mugabe remained president, Tsvangirai will become prime minister. However, due to ministerial differences between their respective political parties, the agreement was not fully implemented until February 13, 2009, two days after the swearing of Tsvangirai as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has a centralised government and is divided into eight provinces and two cities with provincial status, for administrative purposes. Each province has a provincial capital from where official business is usually carried out.

The names of most of the provinces were generated from the Mashonaland and Matabeleland divide at the time of colonisation: Mashonaland was the territory occupied first by the British South Africa Company Pioneer Column and Matabeleland the territory conquered during the First Matabele War. This corresponds roughly to the precolonial territory of the Shona people and the Matabele people, although there are significant ethnic minorities in most provinces. Each province is headed by a Provincial Governor, appointed by the President. The provincial government is run by a Provincial Administrator, appointed by the Public Service Commission. Other government functions at provincial level are carried out by provincial offices of national government departments.

The provinces are subdivided into 59 districts and 1,200 wards (sometimes referred to as municipalities). Each district is headed by a District Administrator, appointed by the Public Service Commission. There is also a Rural District Council, which appoints a Chief Executive Officer. The Rural District Council comprises elected ward councillors, the District Administrator and one representative of the chiefs (traditional leaders appointed under customary law) in the district. Other government functions at district level are carried out by district offices of national government departments.

At ward level there is a Ward Development Committee, comprising the elected ward councillor, the kraalheads (traditional leaders subordinate to chiefs) and representatives of Village Development Committees. Wards are subdivided into villages, each of which has an elected Village Development Committee and a Headman (traditional leader subordinate to the kraalhead).

Zimbabwe is a semi-presidential system republic, which has a parliamentary government. Under constitutional changes in 2005, an upper chamber, the Senate, was reinstated. The House of Assembly is the lower chamber of Parliament.

President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (commonly abbreviated ZANU-PF) has been the dominant political party in Zimbabwe since independence. In 1987 then-prime minister Mugabe revised the constitution and made himself president. His ZANU party has won every election since independence. In particular, the elections of 1990 were nationally and internationally condemned as being rigged, with the second-placed party, Edgar Tekere's Zimbabwe Unity Movement, winning only 16% of the vote. Presidential elections were again held in 2002 amid allegations of vote-rigging, intimidation and fraud. The 2005 Zimbabwe parliamentary elections were held on March 31 and multiple claims of vote rigging, election fraud and intimidation were made by the MDC and Jonathan Moyo, calling for investigations into 32 of the 120 constituencies. Jonathan Moyo participated in the elections despite the allegations and won a seat as an independent member of Parliament.

General elections were again held in Zimbabwe on 30 March 2008. The official results required a runoff between Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, however the MDC challenged these results, claiming widespread election fraud by the Mugabe government. The runoff was scheduled for June 27, 2008. On 22 June, however, citing the continuing unfairness of the process and refusing to participate in a "violent, illegitimate sham of an election process", Tsvangirai pulled out of the presidential run-off, effectively handing victory to Mugabe.

The MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai is now the largest parliamentary party. The MDC was split into two factions. One faction (MDC-M), now led by Arthur Mutambara contested the elections to the Senate, while the other, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, opposed to contesting the elections, stating that participation in a rigged election is tantamount to endorsing Mugabe's claim that past elections were free and fair. However, the opposition parties have resumed participation in national and local elections as recently as 2006. The two MDC camps had their congresses in 2006 with Morgan Tsvangirai being elected to lead MDC-T, which has become more popular than the other group. Mutambara, a robotics professor and former NASA robotics specialist has replaced Welshman Ncube who was the interim leader of MDC-M after the split. Morgan Tsvangirai did not participate in the Senate elections, while the Mutambara faction participated and won five seats in the senate. The Mutambara formation has however been weakened by defections from MPs and individuals who are disillusioned by their manifesto. As of 2008, the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai has become the most popular, with crowds as large as 20,000 attending their rallies as compared to between 500–5,000 for the other formation.

On 28 April 2008, Tsvangirai and Mutambara announced at a joint news conference in Johannesburg that the two MDC formations were cooperating, enabling the MDC to have a clear parliamentary majority. Tsvangirai said that Mugabe could not remain President without a parliamentary majority. On the same day, Silaigwana announced that the recounts for the final five constituencies had been completed, that the results were being collated and that they would be published on 29 April.

In mid-September, 2008, after protracted negotiations overseen by the leaders of South Africa and Mozambique, Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing deal which would see Mugabe retain control over the army. Donor nations have adopted a 'wait-and-see' attitude, wanting to see real change being brought about by this merger before committing themselves to funding rebuilding efforts, which are estimated to take at least five years. On 11 February 2009 Tsvangirai was sworn in as Prime Minister by President Mugabe.

In November, 2008, the government of Zimbabwe spent $7.3 million donated by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. A representative of the organization declined to speculate on how the money was spent, except that it was not for the intended purpose, and the government has failed to honor requests to return the money.

There are widespread reports of systematic and escalating violations of human rights in Zimbabwe under the Mugabe administration and his party, ZANU-PF.

According to human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch the government of Zimbabwe violates the rights to shelter, food, freedom of movement and residence, freedom of assembly and the protection of the law. There have been alleged assaults on the media, the political opposition, civil society activists, and human rights defenders.

Opposition gatherings are frequently the subject of brutal attacks by the police force, such as the crackdown on a 11 March 2007 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) rally and several others in the 2008 election campaign. In the attacks of 2007, party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and 49 other opposition activists were arrested and severely beaten by the police. After his release, Morgan Tsvangirai told the BBC that he suffered head injuries and blows to the arms, knees and back, and that he lost a significant amount of blood. The police action was strongly condemned by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, the European Union and the United States. While noting that the activists had suffered injuries, but not mentioning the cause of them, the Zimbabwean government-controlled daily newspaper The Herald claimed the police had intervened after demonstrators "ran amok looting shops, destroying property, mugging civilians, and assaulting police officers and innocent members of the public". The newspaper also argued that the opposition had been "wilfully violating the ban on political rallies".

There is also an abuse of human rights in the media. The Zimbabwean government suppresses freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It has also been repeatedly accused of using the public broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, as a propaganda tool. Newspapers critical of the government, such as the Daily News, closed after bombs exploded at their offices and the government refused to renew their license. BBC News, Sky News, and CNN have also been banned from filming or reporting from Zimbabwe. They continue to report on happenings within Zimbabwe from neighbouring countries like South Africa.

The ZDF was set up by the integration of three belligerent forces, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, (ZANLA) and the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army, (ZIPRA) on one side and the Rhodesian Security Forces (RSF) on the other at the end of the Rhodesian Bush War in 1980. The integration period saw the formation of The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) as separate entities under the command of Rtd General Solomon Mujuru and the late Rtd Air Chief Marshal Josiah Tungamirai respectively. The integration commanders handed over the Zimbabwean flags to then Lieutenant General Vitalis Zvinavashe, who later became the first Commander Defence Forces (1993), and Air Marshal Perrance Shiri in 1992, and subsequently in the ZNA to then Lieutenant General Constantine Chiwenga in 1993.

The approval of the Defence Amendment Bill saw the setting up of a single command for the Defence Forces in 1993. Rtd. General Vitalis Zvinavashe became the first commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, with the commanders of both the Army and the Air Force falling under his command. Following his retirement in December 2003, General Constantine Chiwenga, was promoted and appointed Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. Lieutenant General P. V. Sibanda replaced him as Commander of the Army.

The ZNA currently has an active duty strength of 30,000. The Air Force has about 5,139 men assigned. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (includes Police Support Unit, Paramilitary Police) is also part of the defence force of Zimbabwe and numbers 25,000.

In 1999, the Government of Zimbabwe sent a sizeable military force into the Democratic Republic of Congo to support the government of President Laurent Kabila during the Second Congo War. Those forces were largely withdrawn in 2002.

The Zimbabwe National Army or ZNA was created in 1980 from elements of the Rhodesian Army, integrated to a greater or lesser extent with combatants from the ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrilla movements (the armed wings of, respectively, ZANU and ZAPU).

Following majority rule in early 1980, British Army trainers oversaw the integration of guerrilla fighters into a battalion structure overlaid on the existing Rhodesian armed forces. For the first year a system was followed where the top-performing candidate became battalion commander. If he or she was from ZANLA, then his or her second-in-command was the top-performing ZIPRA candidate, and vice versa. This ensured a balance between the two movements in the command structure. From early 1981 this system was abandoned in favour of political appointments, and ZANLA/ZANU fighters consequently quickly formed the majority of battalion commanders in the ZNA.

The ZNA was originally formed into four brigades, composed of a total of 28 battalions. The brigade support units were composed almost entirely of specialists of the former Rhodesian Army, while unintegrated battalions of the Rhodesian African Rifles were assigned to the 1st, 3rd and 4th Brigades. The notorious Fifth Brigade was formed in 1981 and disbanded in 1988 after allegations of brutality and murder during the Brigade's occupation of Matabeleland in what has become known as Gukurahundi (Shona: "the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains").

Mineral exports, agriculture, and tourism are the main foreign currency earners of Zimbabwe. The mining sector remains very lucrative, with some of the world's largest platinum reserves being mined by Anglo-American and Impala Platinum. Zimbabwe is the biggest trading partner of South Africa on the continent.

Zimbabwe maintained positive economic growth throughout the 1980s (5.0% GDP growth per year) and 1990s (4.3% GDP growth per year). However, the economy declined from 2000: 5% decline in 2000, 8% in 2001, 12% in 2002 and 18% in 2003. The government of Zimbabwe faces a variety of economic problems after having abandoned earlier efforts to develop a market-oriented economy. Problems include a shortage of foreign exchange, soaring inflation, and supply shortages. Zimbabwe's involvement from 1998 to 2002 in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo drained hundreds of millions of dollars from the economy.

The downward spiral of the economy has been attributed mainly to mismanagement and corruption of the Mugabe regime and the eviction of more than 4,000 white farmers in the controversial land redistribution of 2000. This has also resulted in Zimbabwe, previously an exporter of maize, becoming a net importer. Tobacco exports have also declined sharply. The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force released a report in June 2007, estimating 60% of Zimbabwe's wildlife has died since 2000. The report warns that the loss of life combined with widespread deforestation is potentially disastrous for the tourist industry.

Inflation rose from an annual rate of 32% in 1998 to an IMF estimate of 150,000% in December 2007, and to an official estimated high of 231,000,000% in July 2008 according to the country's Central Statistical Office,. This represented a state of hyperinflation, and the central bank introduced a new 100 billion dollar note. As of November 2008, unofficial figures put Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate at 516 quintillion per cent, with prices doubling every 1.3 days. By 23rd February 2009, the BBC claimed that certain economists had estimated inflation to be at 10 sextillion percent, or 1022. Zimbabwe's inflation crisis is now the second worst inflation spike in history, behind the hyperinflationary crisis of Hungary in 1946, in which prices doubled every 15.6 hours. By 2005, the purchasing power of the average Zimbabwean had dropped to the same levels in real terms as 1953. Local residents have largely resorted to buying essentials from neighbouring Botswana, South Africa and Zambia.

In 2005, the government, led by central bank governor Gideon Gono, started making overtures that white farmers could come back. There were 400 to 500 still left in the country, but much of the land that had been confiscated was no longer productive. In January 2007, the government even let some white farmers sign long term leases. But, the government reversed course again and started demanding that all remaining white farmers leave the country or face jail.

In August 2006, a new revalued Zimbabwean dollar was introduced, equal to 1000 of the prior Zimbabwean. The exchange rate fell from 24 old Zimbabwean dollars per U.S. dollar (USD) in 1998 to 250,000 prior or 250 new Zimbabwean dollars per USD at the official rate, and an estimated 120,000,000 old or 120,000 revalued Zimbabwean dollars per US dollar on the parallel market, in June 2007.

In January, 2009, Zimbabwe introduced a new Z$100 trillion banknote. On January 29, in an effort to counteract his country's runaway inflation, acting Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced that Zimbabweans will be permitted to use other, more stable currencies (e.g. the Euro) to do business, alongside the Zimbabwe dollar.

On February 2, 2009, the RBZ announced that a further 12 zeros were to be taken off the currency, with 1,000,000,000,000 (third) Zimbabwe dollars being exchanged for 1 new (fourth) dollar. New banknotes are to be introduced with a face value of Z$1, Z$5, Z$10, Z$20, Z$50, Z$100 and Z$500.The banknotes of the fourth dollar are to circulate alongside the third dollar, which will remain legal tender until 30 June 2009.

Mugabe points to foreign governments and alleged "sabotage" as the cause of the fall of the Zimbabwean economy, as well as the country's 80% formal unemployment rate. Critics of Mugabe's administration, including the majority of the international community, blame Mugabe's controversial programme which sought to seize land from white commercial farmers. Mugabe has repeatedly blamed sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the European Union and the United States for the state of the Zimbabwean economy. According to the United States, however, these sanctions target only seven specific businesses owned or controlled by government officials and not ordinary citizens. During a meeting of the Southern African Development Community in 2007, a call was issued for the sanctions to be removed.

Economic freedom in Zimbabwe has weakened lately. Government spending is 56.4 % of GDP. It has partly been financed by printing money, which has led to hyperinflation. State enterprises are strongly subsidized, taxes and tariffs are high. State regulation is costly to companies, starting or closing a business is slow and costly.

Labor market is highly regulated, hiring a worker is cumbersome, firing a worker is difficult and the unemployment has risen to 80 % (2005). Since 2000 president Mugabe has confiscated lands of white farmers, and this former net importer of grain has now been plagued by hunger.

According to the United Nations World Health Organisation, the life expectancy for men is 37 years and the life expectancy for women is 34 years of age, the lowest in the world in 2006. An association of doctors in Zimbabwe has made calls for President Mugabe to make moves to assist the ailing health service. The HIV infection rate in Zimbabwe was estimated to be 20.1% for people aged 15–49 in 2006. UNESCO reported a decline in HIV prevalence among pregnant women from 26% in 2002 to 21% in 2004. Zimbabwe's total population is 12 million.

Shona, Ndebele and English are the official languages of Zimbabwe. Less than 2.5%, mainly the white and Coloured (mixed race) minorities, consider English their native language. The rest of the population speak Shona (76%) and Ndebele (18%). Shona has a rich oral tradition, which was incorporated into the first Shona novel, Feso by Solomon Mutswairo, published in 1956. English is spoken primarily in the cities, but less so in rural areas. Radio and television news is now broadcast in Shona, Ndebele and English.

Sixty two percent of Zimbabweans attend Christian religious services. The largest Christian churches are Anglican, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist and Methodist. However like most former European colonies, Christianity is often mixed with enduring traditional beliefs. Besides Christianity, ancestral worship is the most practiced non-Christian religion which involves ancestor worship and spiritual intercession; the Mbira Dza Vadzimu, which means "Voice of the Ancestors", an instrument related to many lamellophones ubiquitous throughout Africa, is central to many ceremonial proceedings. Mwari simply means "God the Creator" (musika vanhu in Shona). Around 1% of the population is Muslim.

Black ethnic groups make up 98% of the population. The majority people, the Shona, comprise 80 to 84%. The Ndebele are the second most populous with 10 to 15% of the population. The Ndebele are descended from Zulu migrations in the 19th century and the other tribes with which they intermarried. Support for the opposition is particularly strong both from the Ndebele and the Shona majority. Up to one million Ndebele may have left the country over the last five years, mainly for South Africa. Bantus of other races are the third largest with 2 to 5%.

Other less populous Zimbabwean ethnic groups include white Zimbabweans, mostly of British origin, but some are of Afrikaner, Portuguese and Dutch origin as well, who make up less than 1.0%. The white population dropped from a peak of around 296,000 in 1975 to possibly 120,000 in 1999 and was estimated at no more than 50,000 in 2002, possibly much less. Most emigration has been to the UK, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Mixed race citizens are 0.5% and various Asian ethnic groups, mostly of Indian and Chinese origin, are also 0.5%. Asian immigrants are influential in the economic sector.

The economic meltdown and repressive political measures in Zimbabwe have led to a flood of refugees into neighbouring countries. An estimated 3.4 million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the population, had fled abroad by mid 2007. Some 3 million of these have gone to South Africa.

Apart from the people who fled into the neighbouring countries, an estimated 570,000 people are displaced within the borders of the country, many of whom remain in transit camps and have limited access to assistance. Most of the displaced have been victims of the Operation Murambatsvina in the year 2005 and continuing evictions and violent farm seizures. Their plight is virtually impossible to assess, as there has been no national survey of people displaced since 2005. However, these numbers may have been exaggerated.

At independence, the policies of racial inequality were reflected in the disease patterns of the black majority. The first five years after independence saw rapid gains in areas such as immunization coverage, access to health care and contraceptive prevalence rate. Zimbabwe was thus considered internationally to have a achieved a good record of health development. However, these gains were eroded by structural adjustment in the 1990s, the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the economic crisis since the year 2000. Zimbabwe now has one of the lowest life expectancies on Earth - 44 for men and 43 for women, down from 60 in 1990. The rapid drop has been ascribed mainly to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Infant mortality has risen from 59 per thousand in the late 1990s to 123 per 1000 by 2004.

The health system has more or less collapsed: By the end of November 2008, three of Zimbabwe's four major hospitals had shut down, along with the Zimbabwe Medical School and the fourth major hospital had two wards and no operating theatres working. Due to hyperinflation, those hospitals still open are not able to obtain basic drugs and medicines. The ongoing political and economic crisis also contributed to the emigration of the doctors and people with medical knowledge.

In August 2008, large areas of Zimbabwe were struck by the ongoing cholera epidemic. By December 2008 more than 10,000 people had been infected in all but one of Zimbabwe's provinces and the outbreak had spread to Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia. On December 4, 2008 the Zimbabwe government declared the outbreak to be a national emergency, and has asked for international aid. Estimates of fatalities have run from 484 to 800, since the outbreak in August 2008, with an upper estimate of 3,000 from an anonymous senior official in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. In Harare, the city council offered free graves to cholera victims. Oxfam estimated that by the end of March 2009, some 60,000 would be infected. UNICEF predicts that the same number will be infected in the next few weeks, with an estimated 3000 deaths.

Zimbabwe has an adult literacy rate of approximately 90% which is amongst the highest in Africa. Since 1995 the adult literacy rate of Zimbabwe has steadily decreased, a trend shared by other African countries.

The wealthier portion of the population usually send their children to independent schools as opposed to the government-run schools which are attended by the majority as these are subsidised by the government. School education was made free in 1980, but since 1988, the government has steadily increased the charges attached to school enrollment until they now greatly exceed the real value of fees in 1980. The Ministry of Education of Zimbabwe maintains and operates the government schools but the fees charged by independent schools are regulated by the cabinet of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's education system consists of 7 years of primary and 6 years of secondary schooling before students can enter university in the country or abroad. The academic year in Zimbabwe runs from January to December, with three month terms, broken up by one month holidays, with a total of 40 weeks of school per year. National examinations are written during the third term in November, with "O" level and "A" level subjects also offered in June.

There are seven public universities as well as four church-related universities in Zimbabwe that are fully internationally accredited. The University of Zimbabwe, the first and largest, was built in 1952 and is located in the Harare suburb of Mount Pleasant. Notable alumni from Zimbabwean universities include Welshman Ncube; Peter Moyo (of Amabhubesi); Tendai Biti, Secretary-General for the MDC; Chenjerai Hove, Zimbabwean poet, novelist and essayist; and Arthur Mutambara, President of one faction of the MDC. Many of the current politicians in the government of Zimbabwe have obtained degrees from universities in America or other universities abroad.

The highest professional board for accountants is the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Zimbabwe (ICAZ) with direct relationships with similar bodies in South Africa, Canada, the UK and Australia. A qualified Chartered Accountant from Zimbabwe is also a member of similar bodies in these countries after writing a conversion paper. In addition, Zimbabwean-trained doctors only require one year of residence to be fully licensed doctors in the United States. The Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers (ZIE) is the highest professional board for engineers.

However, education in Zimbabwe became under threat since the economic changes in 2000 with teachers going on strike because of low pay, students unable to concentrate because of hunger and the price of uniforms soaring making this standard a luxury. Teachers were also one of the main targets of Mugabe's attacks because he thought they were not strong supporters.

The media of Zimbabwe, once initially diverse, have come under tight restriction in recent years by the government, particularly during the growing economic and political crisis in the country. The Zimbabwean constitution promotes freedom of the media and expression, however this is hampered by interference and the implementation of strict media laws. In its 2008 report, Reporters Without Borders ranked the Zimbabwean media as 151st out of 173. The government also bans many foreign broadcasting stations from Zimbabwe, including the BBC (since 2001), CNN, Sky News, Channel Four, American Broadcasting Company, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Fox News. News agencies and newspapers from other Western countries and South Africa have also been banned from the country.

Zimbabwe first celebrated its independence on 18 April, 1980. Celebrations are held at the National Sports Stadium in Harare where the first independence celebrations were held in 1980. At these celebrations doves are released to symbolise peace and fighter jets fly over and the national anthem is sung. The flame of independence is lit by the president after parades by the presidential family and members of the armed forces of Zimbabwe. The president also gives a speech to the people of Zimbabwe which is televised for those unable to attend the stadium.

Football and cricket are the most popular sports in Zimbabwe. The citizens of Zimbabwe have won eight medals in the Olympic Games, one in field hockey at the 1980 Summer games in Moscow, three in swimming at the 2004 Summer games in Athens and another four at the 2008 Summer games .

Zimbabwe has also done well in the Commonwealth Games and All-Africa Games in swimming with Kirsty Coventry obtaining 11 gold medals in the different competitions. Zimbabwe has also competed at Wimbledon and the Davis Cup in tennis, most notably with the Black family, which comprises Wayne Black, Byron Black and Cara Black.

Traditional arts in Zimbabwe include pottery, basketry, textiles, jewelry and carving. Among the distinctive qualities are symmetrically patterned woven baskets and stools carved out of a single piece of wood. Shona sculpture has become world famous in recent years having first emerged in the 1940s. Most subjects of carved figures of stylised birds and human figures among others are made with sedimentary rocks such as soapstone, as well as harder igneous rocks such as serpentine and the rare stone verdite. Shona sculpture in essence has been a fusion of African folklore with European influences. Internationally famous artists include Henry Mudzengerere and Nicolas Mukomberanwa. A recurring theme in Zimbabwean art is the metamorphosis of man into beast. Zimbabwean musicians like Thomas Mapfumo, Oliver Mtukudzi, the Bhundu Boys and Audius Mtawarira have achieved international recognition.

Several authors are well known within Zimbabwe and abroad. Charles Mungoshi is renowned in Zimbabwe for writing traditional stories in English and in Shona and his poems and books have sold well with both the black and white communities. Catherine Buckle has achieved international recognition with her two books African Tears and Beyond Tears which tell of the ordeal she went through under the 2000 Land Reform. Prime Minister of Rhodesia, the late Ian Smith, has also written two books — The Great Betrayal and Bitter Harvest. The book The House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera won an award in the UK in 1979 and the Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing's first novel The Grass Is Singing is set in Rhodesia.

The majority of Zimbabweans depend on a few staple foods. Meat, beef and to a lesser extent chicken are especially popular, though consumption has declined under the Mugabe regime due to falling incomes. "Mealie meal" (cornmeal) is used to prepare sadza or isitshwala and botaor ilambazi. Sadza is a porridge made by mixing the cornmeal with water to produce a thick paste. After the paste has been cooking for several minutes, more cornmeal is added to thicken the paste. This is eaten as lunch and dinner, usually with greens, (spinach,chomoliacollard greens), beans and meat that has been stewed, grilled, or roasted. Sadza is also commonly eaten with curdled milk, commonly known as lacto (mukaka wakakora), or dried Tanganyika sardine, known locally as kapenta or matemba. Bota is a thinner porridge, cooked without the additional cornmeal and usually flavoured with peanut butter, milk, butter, or, sometimes, jam. Bota is usually eaten for breakfast.

Graduations, weddings, and any other family gatherings will usually be celebrated with the killing of a goat or cow, which will be barbecued or roasted by the family.

Afrikaner recipes are popular though they are a small group (0.2%) within the white minority group. Biltong, a type of jerky, is a popular snack, prepared by hanging bits of spiced raw meat to dry in the shade. Boerewors (pronounced — "Boo-ruh-vorse") is served with sadza. It is a long sausage, often well-spiced, composed of beef rather than pork, and barbecued.

It was in Matabeleland during the Second Matabele War that Baden-Powell, the Founder of Scouting, and Frederick Russell Burnham, the Father of Scouting, first met and began their life-long friendship. In mid-June 1896, during a scouting patrol in the Matobo Hills, Burnham taught Baden-Powell woodcraft. Practiced by frontiersmen of the American Old West and Indigenous peoples of the Americas, woodcraft was generally unknown to the British. However, Baden-Powell recognised that wars in Africa were changing markedly and the British Army needed to adapt; so during their joint scouting missions, Baden-Powell and Burnham discussed the concept of a broad training programme in woodcraft for young men, rich in exploration, tracking, fieldcraft, and self-reliance. These skills eventually formed the basis of what is now called scoutcraft, the fundamentals of Scouting. Later, Baden-Powell wrote a number of books on the subject, and even started to train and make use of adolescent boys, most famously during the Siege of Mafeking, during the Second Boer War.

Since the Land Reform programme in 2000, tourism in Zimbabwe has steadily declined. After rising during the 1990s, (1.4 million tourists in 1999) industry figures described a 75% fall in visitors to Zimbabwe in 2000. By December, less than 20% of hotel rooms had been occupied. This has had a huge impact on the Zimbabwean economy. Thousands of jobs have been lost in the industry due to companies closing down or simply being unable to pay staff wages due to the decreasing number of tourists.

Several airlines have also pulled out of Zimbabwe. Australia's Qantas, Germany's Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines were among the first to pull out and most recently British Airways suspended all direct flights to Harare. The country's flagship airline Air Zimbabwe still flies to the United Kingdom.

Zimbabwe boasts several major tourist attractions. Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River, which are shared with Zambia, are located in the north west of Zimbabwe. Before the economic changes, much of the tourism for these locations came to the Zimbabwe side but now Zambia is the main beneficiary. The Victoria Falls National Park is also in this area and is one of the eight main national parks in Zimbabwe, largest of which is Hwange National Park.

The Eastern Highlands are a series of mountainous areas near the border with Mozambique. The highest peak in Zimbabwe, Mount Nyangani at 2,593 m (8,507 ft) is located here as well as the Bvumba Mountains and the Nyanga National Park. World's View is in these mountains and it is from here that places as far away as 60–70 km (37–43 mi) are visible and, on clear days, the town of Rusape can be seen.

Zimbabwe is unusual in Africa in that there are a number of ancient ruined cities built in a unique dry stone style. The most famous of these are the Great Zimbabwe ruins in Masvingo. Other ruins include Khami Ruins, Zimbabwe, Dhlo-Dhlo and Naletale, although none of these is as famous as Great Zimbabwe.

The Matobo Hills are an area of granite kopjes and wooded valleys commencing some 22 miles (35 km) south of Bulawayo in southern Zimbabwe. The Hills were formed over 2,000 million years ago with granite being forced to the surface, then being eroded to produce smooth "whaleback dwalas" and broken kopjes, strewn with boulders and interspersed with thickets of vegetation. Mzilikazi, founder of the Ndebele nation, gave the area its name, meaning 'Bald Heads'. They have become famous and a tourist attraction due to their ancient shapes and local wildlife. Cecil John Rhodes and other early white pioneers like Leander Starr Jameson are buried in these hills at a site named World's View.

The two main traditional symbols of Zimbabwe are the Zimbabwe Bird and the Balancing Rocks.

Other national symbols exist, but have varying degrees of official usage, such as the flame lily and the Sable Antelope.

The stone-carved Zimbabwe Bird appears on the national flags and the coats of arms of both Zimbabwe and Rhodesia, as well as on banknotes and coins (first on Rhodesian pound and then Rhodesian dollar). It probably represents the bateleur eagle.

The famous soapstone bird carvings stood on walls and monoliths of the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe, built, it is believed, sometime between the 13th and 16th centuries by ancestors of the Shona. The ruins, which gave their name to modern Zimbabwe, cover some 1,800 acres (7.3 km2) and are the largest ancient stone construction in Zimbabwe.

When the ruins of Great Zimbabwe were excavated by treasure-hunters in the late 19th century, five of the carved birds they discovered were taken to South Africa by Cecil Rhodes. Four of the statues were returned to Zimbabwe by the South African government at independence, while the fifth remains at Groote Schuur, Rhodes' former home in Cape Town.

Balancing Rocks are geological formations all over Zimbabwe. The rocks are perfectly balanced without other supports. They are created when ancient granite intrusions are exposed to weathering, as softer rocks surrounding them erode away. They are often remarked on and have been depicted on both the paper money of the Zimbabwean dollar and the paper money of the Rhodesian dollar. The ones found on the current notes of Zimbabwe, named the Banknote Rocks, are located in Epworth, approximately 9 miles (15 km) south east of Harare. There are, however, many different formations of the rocks, incorporating single and paired columns of 3 or more rocks. These formations are a feature of south and east tropical Africa from northern South Africa northwards to Sudan. The most notable formations in Zimbabwe are located in the Matobo National Park in Matabeleland.

1Occupied jointly with the United States 2In 1931, Canada and other British dominions obtained self-government through the Statute of Westminster. see Canada's name. 3Gave up self-rule in 1934, but remained a de jure Dominion until it joined Canada in 1949.

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History of Zimbabwe

GBP 8 worth of Zimbabwean dollars in 2003

The history of Zimbabwe began with the end of the Bush War and the transition to majority rule in 1980. The United Kingdom ceremonially granted Zimbabwe independence on April 18, 1980 in accordance with the Lancaster House Agreement. In the 2000s Zimbabwe's economy began to deteriorate due to various factors, including mismanagement and corruption, the imposition of sanctions, such as among others the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, following the switch from Willing Buyer, Willing Seller to Fast Track land reform. Economic instability led several members of the military to try to overthrow the government in a coup d'état.

Zimbabwe Rhodesia regained its independence as Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980. The government held independence celebrations in Rufaro stadium in Salisbury, the capital. Lord Christopher Soames, the last Governor of Southern Rhodesia, watched as Charles, Prince of Wales, gave a farewell salute and the Rhodesian Signal Corps played God Save the Queen, the anthem of Commonwealth realms. Many foreign dignitaries also attended, including Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India, President Shehu Shagari of Nigeria, President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, President Seretse Khama of Botswana, and Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser of Australia, representing the Commonwealth of Nations. Bob Marley sang 'Zimbabwe', a song he wrote, at the government's invitation in a concert at the country's independence festivities.

Mugabe's government changed the capital's name from Salisbury to Harare on April 18, 1982 in celebration of the second anniversary of independence. The government renamed the main street in the capital, Jameson Avenue, in honor of Samora Machel, President of Mozambique.

The new Constitution provided for a non-executive President as Head of State with a Prime Minister as Head of Government. Reverend Canaan Banana served as the first President. In government amended the Constitution in 1987 to provide for an Executive President and abolished the office of Prime Minister. The constitutional changes came into effect on 1 January 1988 with Robert Mugabe as President. The bicameral Parliament had a directly-elected House of Assembly and an indirectly-elected Senate, partly made up of tribal chiefs. The Constitution established two separate voters rolls, one for the black majority, who had 80% of the seats in Parliament, and the other for whites and other ethnic minorities, such as Coloureds, people of mixed race, and Asians, who held 20%. The government amended the Constitution in 1986, eliminating the voter rolls and replacing the white seats with seats filled by nominated members. Many white MPs joined ZANU which then reappointed them. In 1990 the government abolished the Senate and increased the House of Assembly's membership to include members nominated by the President.

Prime Minister Mugabe kept Peter Walls, the head of the army, in his government and put him in charge of integrating the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), and the Rhodesian Army. While Western media outlets praised Mugabe's efforts at reconciliation with the white minority, tension soon developed. On March 17, 1980, after several unsuccessful assassination attempts Mugabe asked Walls, "Why are your men trying to kill me?" Walls replied, "If they were my men you would be dead." BBC news interviewed Walls on August 11, 1980. He told the BBC that he had asked British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to annul the 1980 presidential election prior to the official announcement of the result on the grounds that Mugabe used intimidation to win the election. Walls said Thatcher had not replied to his request. On August 12 British government officials denied that they had not responded, saying Antony Duff, Deputy Governor of Salisbury, told Walls on March 3 that Thatcher would not annul the election.

Minister of Information Nathan Shamuyarira said the government would not be "held ransom by racial misfits" and told "all those Europeans who do not accept the new order to pack their bags." He also said the government continued to consider taking "legal or administrative action" against Walls. Mugabe, returning from a visit with United States President Jimmy Carter in New York City, said, "One thing is quite clear—we are not going to have disloyal characters in our society." Walls returned to Zimbabwe after the interview, telling Peter Hawthorne of Time magazine, "To stay away at this time would have appeared like an admission of guilt." Mugabe drafted legislation that would exile Walls from Zimbabwe for life and Walls moved to South Africa.

Ethnic divisions soon came back to the forefront of national politics. Tension between ZAPU and ZANU erupted with guerrilla activity starting again in Matabeleland in south-western Zimbabwe. Nkomo (ZAPU) left for exile in Britain and did not return until Mugabe guaranteed his safety. In 1982 government security officials discovered large caches of arms and ammunition on properties owned by ZAPU, accusing Nkomo and his followers of plotting to overthrow the government. Mugabe fired Nkomo and his closest aides from the cabinet. Seven MPs, members of the Rhodesian Front, left Smith's party to sit as "independents" on March 4, 1982, signifying their dissatisfaction with his policies. As a result of what they saw as persecution of Nkomo and his party, PF-ZAPU supporters, army deserters began a campaign of dissidence against the government. Centering primarily in Matabeleland, home of the Ndebeles who were at the time PF-ZAPU's main followers, this dissidence continued through 1987. It involved attacks on government personnel and installations, armed banditry aimed at disrupting security and economic life in the rural areas, and harassment of ZANU-PF members.

Because of the unsettled security situation immediately after independence and the continuing anti government dissidence, the government kept in force a "state of emergency". This gave the government widespread powers under the "Law and Order Maintenance Act," including the right to detain persons without charge which it used quite widely. In 1983 to 1984 the government declared a curfew in areas of Matabeleland and sent in the army in an attempt to suppress dissidents. Credible reports surfaced of widespread violence and disregard for human rights by the security forces during these operations, and the level of political tension rose in the country as a result. The pacification campaign, known as the Gukuruhundi, or strong wind, resulted in at least 20,000 civilian deaths perpetrated by an elite, communist-trained brigade, known in Zimbabwe as the Gukurahundi. The situation evolved into a low level civil war.

ZANU-PF increased its majority in the 1985 elections, winning 67 of the 100 seats. The majority gave Mugabe the opportunity to start making changes to the constitution, including those with regard to land restoration. Fighting did not cease until Mugabe and Nkomo reached an agreement in December 1987 whereby ZAPU became part of ZANU-PF and the government changed the constitution to make Mugabe the country's first executive president and Nkomo one of two vice presidents.

Elections in March 1990 resulted in another overwhelming victory for Mugabe and his party, which won 117 of the 120 election seats. Election observers estimated voter turnout at only 54% and found the campaign neither free nor fair., though balloting met international standards. Unsatisfied with a de facto one-party state, Mugabe called on the ZANU-PF Central Committee to support the creation of a de jure one-party state in September 1990 and lost. The government began further amending the constitution. The judiciary and human rights advocates fiercely criticised the first amendments enacted in April 1991 because they restored corporal and capital punishment and denied recourse to the courts in cases of compulsory purchase of land by the government. The general health of the civilian population also began to significantly flounder and by 1997 25% of the population of Zimbabwe had been infected by HIV, the AIDS virus.

During the 1990s students, trade unionists, and workers often demonstrated to express their discontent with the government. Students protested in 1990 against proposals for an increase in government control of universities and again in 1991 and 1992 when they clashed with police. Trade unionists and workers also criticised the government during this time. In 1992 police prevented trade unionists from holding anti-government demonstrations. In 1994 widespread industrial unrest weakened the economy. In 1996 civil servants, nurses, and junior doctors went on strike over salary issues.

On December 9, 1997 a national strike paralyzed the country. Mugabe was panicked by demonstrations by Zanla ex-combatants, war veterans, who had been the heart of incursions 20 years earlier in the Bush War. He agreed to pay them large gratuities and pensions, which proved to be a wholly unproductive and unbudgeted financial commitment. The discontent with the government spawned draconian government crackdowns which in turn started to destroy both the fabric of the state and of society. This in turn brought with it further discontent within the population. Thus a vicious downward spiral commenced.

Although many whites had left Zimbabwe after independence, mainly for neighboring South Africa, those who remained continued to wield disproportionate control of some sectors of the economy, especially agriculture. In the late-1990s whites accounted for less than 1% of the population but owned 70% of arable land. Mugabe raised this issue of land ownership by white farmers. In a calculated move, he began forcible land redistribution, which brought the government into headlong conflict with the International Monetary Fund. Amid a severe drought in the region, the police and military were instructed not to stop the invasion of white-owned farms by the so-called 'war veterans' and youth militia. This has led to a mass migration of White Rhodesians out of Zimbabwe. At present almost no arable land is in the possession of white farmers; the country has also experienced a debilitating food shortage with the exodus of its White minority, turning the "breadbasket of Africa" into one of Africa's most food insecure states.

The economy was run along corporatist lines with strict governmental controls on all aspects of the economy. Controls were placed on wages, prices and massive increases in government spending resulting in significant budget deficits. This experiment met with very mixed results and Zimbabwe fell further behind the first world and unemployment. Some market reforms in the 1990s were attempted. A 40 per cent devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar was allowed to occur and price and wage controls were removed. These policies also failed at that time. Growth, employment, wages, and social service spending contracted sharply, inflation did not improve, the deficit remained well above target, and many industrial firms, notably in textiles and footwear, closed in response to increased competition and high real interest rates. The incidence of poverty in the country increased during this time.

However, Zimbabwe began experiencing a period of considerable political and economic upheaval in 1999. Opposition to President Mugabe and the ZANU-PF government grew considerably after the mid-1990s in part due to worsening economic and human rights conditions. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was established in September 1999 as an opposition party founded by trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai.

The MDC's first opportunity to test opposition to the Mugabe government came in February 2000, when a referendum was held on a draft constitution proposed by the government. Among its elements, the new constitution would have permitted President Mugabe to seek two additional terms in office, granted government officials immunity from prosecution, and authorised government seizure of white-owned land. The referendum was handily defeated. Shortly thereafter, the government, through a loosely organised group of war veterans, sanctioned an aggressive land redistribution program often characterised by forced expulsion of white farmers and violence against both farmers and farm employees.

Parliamentary elections held in June 2000 were marred by localised violence, and claims of electoral irregularities and government intimidation of opposition supporters. Nonetheless, the MDC succeeded in capturing 57 of 120 seats in the National Assembly.

Presidential elections were held in March 2002. In the months leading up to the poll, ZANU-PF, with the support of the army., , security services., and especially the so-called 'war veterans'., – very few of whom actually fought in the Second Chimurenga against the Smith regime in the 1970s – set about wholesale intimidation and suppression of the MDC-led opposition. Despite strong international criticism, these measures, together with organised subversion of the electoral process, ensured a Mugabe victory . The government's behavior drew strong criticism from the EU and the USA, which imposed limited sanctions against the leading members of the Mugabe regime. Since the 2002 election, Zimbabwe has suffered further economic difficulty and growing political chaos.

Divisions within the opposition MDC had begun to fester early in the decade, after Morgan Tsvangirai (the president of the MDC) was lured into a government sting operation that videotaped him talking of Mr. Mugabe's removal from power. He was subsequently arrested and put on trial on treason charges. This crippled his control of party affairs and raised questions about his competence. It also catalyzed a major split within the party. In 2004 he was acquitted, but not until after suffering serious abuse and mistreatment in prison. The opposing faction was led by Welshman Ncube who was the general secretary of the party. In mid-2004, vigilantes loyal to Mr. Tsvangirai began attacking members who were mostly loyal to Ncube, climaxing in a September raid on the party's Harare headquarters in which the security director was nearly thrown to his death.

An internal party inquiry later established that aides to Tsvangirai had tolerated, if not endorsed, the violence. Divisive as the violence was, it was a debate over the rule of law that set off the party's final breakup in November 2005. These division severely weakened the opposition. In addition the government employed its own operatives to both spy on each side and to undermine each side via acts of espionage. Zimbabwean parliamentary election, 2005 were held in March 2005 in which ZANU-PF won a two-thirds majority, were again criticised by international observers as being flawed. Mugabe's political operatives were thus able to weaken the opposition internally and the security apparatus of the state was able to destabilize it externally by using violence in anti-Mugabe strongholds to prevent citizens from voting. Some voters were 'turned away' from polling station despite having proper identification, further guaranteeing that the government could control the results. Additionally Mugabe had started to appoint judges sympathetic to the government, making any judicial appeal futile. Mugabe was also able to appoint 30 of the Members of Parliament.

As Senate elections approached further opposition splits occurred. Ncube's supporters argued that the M.D.C. should field a slate of candidates; Tsvangirai's argued for a boycott. When party leaders voted on the issue, Ncube's side narrowly won, but Mr. Tsvangirai declared that as president of the party he was not bound by the majority's decision. Again the opposition was weakened. As a result the elections for a new Senate in November 2005 were largely boycotted by the opposition. Mugabe's party won 24 of the 31 constituencies where elections were held amid low voter turnout. Again, evidence surfaced of voter intimidation and fraud.

In May 2005 the government began Operation Murambatsvina. It was officially billed to rid urban areas of illegal structures, illegal business enterprises, and criminal activities. In practice its purpose was to punish political opponents., . The UN estimates 700,000 people have been left without jobs or homes as a result. Families and traders, especially at the beginning of the operation, were often given no notice before police destroyed their homes and businesses. Others were able to salvage some possessions and building materials but often had nowhere to go, despite the government's statement that people should be returning to their rural homes. Thousands of families were left unprotected in the open in the middle of Zimbabwe's winter., . The government interfered with non-governmental organisation (NGO) efforts to provide emergency assistance to the displaced in many instances. Some families were removed to transit camps, where they had no shelter or cooking facilities and minimal food, supplies, and sanitary facilities. The operation continued into July 2005, when the government began a program to provide housing for the newly displaced.

Human Rights Watch said the evictions had disrupted treatment for people with HIV/Aids in a country where 3,000 die from the disease each week and about 1.3 million children have been orphaned. The operation was "the latest manifestation of a massive human rights problem that has been going on for years", said Amnesty International. As of September 2006, housing construction fell far short of demand, and there were reports that beneficiaries were mostly civil servants and ruling party loyalists, not those displaced. The government campaign of forced evictions continued in 2006, albeit on a lesser scale.

In September 2005 Mugabe signed constitutional amendments that reinstituted a national senate (abolished in 1987) and that nationalised all land. This converted all ownership rights into leases. The amendments also ended the right of landowners to challenge government expropriation of land in the courts and marked the end of any hope of returning any land that had been hitherto grabbed by armed land invasions. Elections for the senate in November resulted in a victory for the government. The MDC split over whether to field candidates and partially boycotted the vote. In addition to low turnout there was widespread government intimidation. The split in the MDC hardened into factions, each of which claimed control of the party. The early months of 2006 were marked by food shortages and mass hunger. The sheer extremity of the siltation was revealed by the fact that in the courts, state witnesses said they were too weak from hunger to testify.

In August 2006 runaway inflation forced the government to replace its existing currency with a revalued one. In December 2006, ZANU-PF proposed the "harmonisation" of the parliamentary and presidential election schedules in 2010; the move was seen by the opposition as an excuse to extend Mugabe's term as president until 2010.

Morgan Tsvangirai was badly beaten on March 12, 2007 after being arrested and held at Machipisa Police Station in the Highfield suburb of Harare. The event garnered an international outcry and was considered particularly brutal and extreme, even considering the reputation of Mugabe's government. "We are very concerned by reports of continuing brutal attacks on opposition activists in Zimbabwe and call on the government to stop all acts of violence and intimidation against opposition activists," said Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International's Africa Programme.

The economy has shrunk by 50% from 2000 to 2007. In September 2007 the inflation rate was put at almost 8,000%, the world's highest. There are frequent power and water outages. Harare's drinking water became unreliable in 2006 and as a consequence dysentery and cholera swept the city in December 2006 and January 2007. Unemployment in formal jobs is running at a record 80%. There is widespread famine, which has been cynically manipulated by the government so that opposition strongholds suffer the most. Most recently, supplies of bread have dried up, after a poor wheat harvest, and the closure of all bakeries.

The country used to be one of Africa's richest and is now one of its poorest. Many observers now view the country as a 'failed state'. The settlement of the Second Congo War brought back Zimbabwe's substantial military commitment, although some troops remain to secure the mining assets under their control. The government lacks the resources or machinery to deal with the ravages of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which affects 25% of the population. With all this and the forced and violent removal of white farmers in a brutal land redistribution program, Mugabe has earned himself widespread scorn from the international arena.

The regime has managed to cling to power by creating wealthy enclaves for government ministers, and senior party members. For example Borrowdale Brook, a suburb of Harare is an oasis of wealth and privilege. It features mansions, manicured lawns, full shops with fully stocked shelves containing an abundance of fruit and vegetables, big cars and a golf club give is the home to President Mugabe's out-of-town retreat.

On December 8, 2007, Mugabe attended a meeting of EU and African leaders in Lisbon, prompting UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to decline to attend. While German PM Angela Merkel criticized Mugabe with her public comments, the leaders of other African countries offered him statements of support.

The educational system in Zimbabwe which was once regarded as among the best in Africa, has gone into crisis because of the country's economic meltdown. Almost a quarter of the teachers have quit the country, absenteeism is high, buildings are crumbling and standards plummeting. One foreign reporter witnessed hundreds of children at Hatcliffe Extension Primary School in Epworth, 12 miles west of Harare, writing in the dust on the floor because they had no exercise books or pencils. The high school exam system unraveled in 2007. Examiners refused to mark examination papers when they were offered just Z$79 a paper, enough to buy three small candies. Corruption has crept into the system and may explain why in January 2007 thousands of pupils received no marks for subjects they had entered, while others were deemed "excellent" in subjects they had not sat. Various disused offices and storerooms have been turned into makeshift brothels at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare by students and staff who have turned to prostitution to make ends meet. Students are destitute following the institution's refusal in July to re-open their halls of residence, effectively banning students from staying on campus. Student leaders believe this was part of the administration's plan to take revenge on them for their demonstrations over deteriorating standards.

Zimbabwe held a presidential election along with a parliamentary election on March 29, 2008. The three major candidates were incumbent President Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T), and Simba Makoni, an independent. As no candidate received an outright majority in the first round, a second round was held on June 27, 2008 between Tsvangirai (with 47.9% of the first round vote) and Mugabe (43.2%). Tsvangirai withdrew from the second round a week before it was scheduled to take place, citing violence against his party's supporters. The second round went ahead, despite widespread criticism, and led to victory for Mugabe.

No official results were announced for more than a month after the first round. The failure to release results was strongly criticized by the MDC, which unsuccessfully sought an order from the High Court to force their release. An independent projection placed Tsvangirai in the lead, but without the majority needed to avoid a second round. The MDC declared that Tsvangirai won a narrow majority in the first round and initially refused to participate in any second round. ZANU-PF has said that Mugabe will participate in a second round; the party alleged that some electoral officials, in connection with the MDC, fraudulently reduced Mugabe's score, and as a result a recount was conducted.

After the recount and the verification of the results, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced on May 2 that Tsvangirai won 47.9% and Mugabe won 43.2%, thereby necessitating a run-off, which was to be held on 27 June 2008. Despite Tsvangirai's continuing claims to have won a first round majority, he initially decided to participate in the second round. The period following the first round was marked by serious political violence. ZANU-PF and the MDC each blamed the other's supporters for perpetrating this violence; Western governments and prominent Western organizations have blamed ZANU-PF for the violence. On June 22, 2008, Tsvangirai announced that he was withdrawing from the run-off, describing it as a "violent sham" and saying that his supporters risked being killed if they voted for him. The second round nevertheless went ahead as planned with Mugabe as the only actively participating candidate, although Tsvangirai's name remained on the ballot. Mugabe won the second round by an overwhelming margin and was sworn in for another term as President on June 29.

Preliminary talks to set up conditions for official negotiations began between leading negotiators from both parties on July 10, and on July 22, the three party leaders met for the first time in Harare to express their support for a negotiated settlement of disputes arising out of the presidential and parliamentary elections. Negotiations between the parties officially began on July 25 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. The talks were mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

On 15 September 2008, the leaders of the 14-member Southern African Development Community witnessed the signing of the power-sharing agreement, brokered by South African leader Thabo Mbeki. With symbolic handshake and warm smiles at the Rainbow Towers hotel, in Harare, Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed the deal to end the violent political crisis. As provided, Robert Mugabe will remain president, Morgan Tsvangirai will become prime minister, ZANU-PF and the MDC will share control of the police, Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) will command the Army, and Arthur Mutambara becomes deputy prime minister.

In January 2009, Morgan Tsvangirai announced that he would do as the leaders across Africa had insisted and join a coalition government as prime minister with his nemesis, President Robert Mugabe . On 11 February 2009 Tsvangirai was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

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Face of Courage: Morgan Tsvangirai

Face of Courage: Morgan Tsvangirai is a biography of Morgan Tsvangirai written by Sarah Hudleston, tracing his trade union roots, his rise to the leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change and the government's attempts to implicate him in a treason plot.

Against a backdrop of the social, political and economic developments in Zimbabwe, this book focuses on the life and career of Morgan Tsvangirai. It draws on interviews with Tsvangirai and those close to him.

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Source : Wikipedia