Officially: Republic of Zimbabwe.
Seat of government: Harare.
Status: Not democratic.
Structure: Dominant-party state, transitioning from autocracy under the previous president. In theory, the president is elected directly, while the parliament comprises a House of Assembly, elected in geographical constituencies, and a Senate, distributed proprotionally within each province according to the House vote.
Governing party: Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front.
Heads of government: Emmerson Mnangagwa, ZANU-PF, president (since 2017); Constantino Chiwenga, vice president (since 2017).
Chief opposition party: Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
Assessment: A domanint-party, autocratic police state, terrorizing opponents and restricting civil liberties. Dictator Robert Mugabe (1980-2017) held an increasingly-concentrated power since the end of white rule, and claimed victory in several severely-tainted elections, while putting the state through a dramatic economic collapse, partially by confiscating agricultural land to enrich his cronies. Early in his reign, he ordered the killings of 10-20,000 supporters of the rival Zimbabwe African People’s Union in KwaNdebele. Opposition leader Tsvangirai was charged (2003) with treason for a supposed plot to kill Mugabe. The popular-vote defeat of the ZANU-PF by the MDC in the 2000 parliamentary elections did not displace Mugabe, or even give the MDC a majority in parliament, but did demonstrate that the electorate of Zimbabhwe was opposed to Mugabe’s régime. The 2005 parliamentary election, though less violent than what was to come, was rigged for ZANU-PF, and gave Mugabe the power to change the constitution. Results from the 2008 elections were delayed for a month; ZANU-PF acknowledged a loss of its majority in the House of Assembly, but distorted the result and challenged numerous seats. Official Senate results were evenly split. A probable first-round victory for Tsvangirai in the presidential election was eventually denied in favor of an official plurality and run-off with Mugabe; ZANU-PF made a show contest of the results before they were released. Tsvangirai initially agreed to a second round, despite the obvious attempts by the régime to skew those results as well. With rapidly increasing violence and clear statements by the régime that an MDC victory would not be accepted, Tsvangirai pulled out. While an attempt to negotiate power-sharing was under way, Mugabe convened parliament. Several opposition MPs were arrested before and during the session. An agreement was reached in principle to name Tsvangirai as prime minister and to divide ministries between ZANU-PF and two MDC factions, with the MDC factions combined having one more ministry. Under the original plan, Tsvangirai would have controlled the police and chaired the decision-making council of ministers, while Mugabe would control the army and chair a consultative cabinet of the same ministers. Mugabe gradually backed away from that deal; he and neighboring African rulers insisted on shared control of the police, and the bulk of power for Mugabe. Tsvangirai rightly resisted for some time, but eventually took up the post (2009-13), and largely settled the economic situation. He was never able to secure a real share of power, though. The 2013 election was again fraudulent, giving Mugabe and ZANU-PF large margins. Mugabe began positioning his much-younger wife Grace for succession, and in late 2017, forced out Mnangagwa, then vice president, to remove him from succession. The army and elements of ZANU-PF responded by forcing out Mugabe and installing Mnangagwa in his place; the army chief who led the coup, Chiwenga, became vice president.
FH: 7-6, not free. Econ: 2.53 (148), authoritarian.
Updated: 2017 December 28.