Zimbabwe: The Transitional Government and Implications for U.S. Policy
KeywordsGovernment and Political Science
MDTF(MULTI-DONOR TRUST FUND)
SADC(SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY)
ZANU-PF(ZIMBABWE AFRICAN NATIONAL UNION-PATRIOTIC FRONT)
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AbstractOver a year after the establishment of a transitional government in Zimbabwe, economic and humanitarian conditions are gradually improving, but concerns about the country's political future remain. In February 2009, after almost a year of uncertainty following March 2008 elections, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn as Prime Minister of a new coalition government. His swearing-in came five months after a power-sharing agreement was signed in an effort to resolve the political standoff resulting from the flawed elections. For the first time since independence, the ruling party had lost its parliamentary majority. The results of the presidential race, announced over a month late amid rising tensions, indicated that Tsvangirai had received more votes than the incumbent, President Robert Mugabe, but had failed to gain the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. Days before the runoff, in late June 2008, Tsvangirai pulled out of the race, citing widespread political violence and the absence of conditions for a free and fair election. Mugabe was declared the winner, but many observer missions suggest that the poll did not reflect the will of the people. In September, after weeks of negotiations, Tsvangirai and Mugabe reached an agreement to form a unity government, with Mugabe remaining head of state, Tsvangirai becoming Prime Minister, and cabinet and gubernatorial positions divided among the parties. Disputes over key ministries delayed the agreement's implementation for months. The parties to the agreement face significant challenges in working together to promote political reconciliation and address serious economic and humanitarian needs. Politically motivated violence and repression followed the 2008 elections, which were held amidst a deepening economic crisis. Zimbabwe's gross domestic product (GDP) had decreased over 50% in the last decade, and the inflation rate rose to over 200 million percent in 2008.
CRS Report for Congress.