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Zimbabwe: Current Issues - page 11 / 19





11 / 19



On June 7, 2000, President Mugabe indicated that he might extend the government takeover of white-owned farms beyond those already slated for seizure. If any white farmers were permitted to remain, he added, it would be through the “charity” of the government. Mugabe urged supporters to offer thanks to the Zimbabwe war veterans who had led the farm occupations. A fifth white farmer was killed, possibly in a robbery attempt, on June 2; and by the time the elections were held, it was estimated at least 30 people had been killed in attacks on farmers and African supporters of the opposition.






parliament in Zimbabwe on June 24-25, 2000 resulted in a narrow victory for the ruling ZANU-PF, which won 62 seats. The MDC took 57 seats in the high-turnout vote, so that for the first time in the country’s history, there would be a strong parliamentary opposition. Thirty appointive seats under the control of President Robert Mugabe continued to give ZANU-PF firm control of parliament, although the

Key Actors in Zimbabwe Politics

Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe since December 31, 1987. Born February 21, 1924; educated at a mission school and Fort Hare University, South Africa; correspondence degrees from University of London and University of South Africa; co-founder of ZANU in 1963; arrested in 1964 by white Rhodesian authorities, jailed or under house arrest for ten years; took over leadership of ZANU guerrilla movement in Mozambique, 1975; elected prime minister, 1980.

MDC has enough votes constitutional amendments.

to block Tsvangirai

did not himself win a seat announced that he would contest 2002 presidential election.

but the

There has been much speculation that President Mugabe used the land


to influence the

outcome of the


Even though

voters rejected

Morgan Tsvangirai, President of the MDC. Born March 10, 1952; completed secondary education; textile and mine worker; elected secretary-general Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, 1988; co-founder of the MDC, September 1999.

Sources: standard references, press reports.

compulsory land seizures in the February 2000 referendum, Mugabe accurately calculated, according to this speculation, that the confrontation with white landowners would solidify his support among the rural poor, war veterans, and others. Some believe that the land confrontation distracted attention from Zimbabwe’s many other problems during the run-up to the election and gave Mugabe backers a rationale for attacking white farmers and farm

workers who supported the MDC.

Foreign observers accept MDC allegations that the government undertook a systematic effort to prevent a free and fair election and to assure a ZANU-PF victory. Observers from the European Union and the Commonwealth of Nations refused to certify the elections as free and fair because of the violence and intimidation that preceded the voting. On May 22, 2000, the head of a delegation from the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute stated that because of a campaign of violence, intimidation, and misinformation, “the conditions for credible democratic elections do not exist in Zimbabwe at this time.” (“Statement of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) Pre-Election Delegation to Zimbabwe.” (Available at [http://www.ndi.org].) Rallies and demonstrations by the MDC were disrupted by police and


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