November Stories for Change
ZIMBABWE – Situation update: Elections Zimbabwe held presidential and parliamentary polls in July, resulting in a landslide victory for Mugabe, who was re-elected as president for the seventh time. His party Zanu-PF gained a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary poll, which resulted in the power-sharing coalition with Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party being ditched. Mugabe denied Tsvangirai’s claims that the polls were rigged in his favour. The elections were largely peaceful. However, many people, including Christian Aid staff in Zimbabwe, believe many young people (who were more likely to vote for the MDC party) were deliberately disenfranchised. One of Christian Aid’s Zimbabwe country managers wrote this blog about her experiences. www.christianaid.org.uk/pressoffice/blog/urban-youth-vote-zimbabwe-elections-2013.aspx
The United States and European Union questioned the election, but observers from the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (Sadc) said the vote had reflected the “will of the people”.
Ordinary Zimbabweans, however, are more concerned with the impact of the election on the country’s frail economy than the politics behind it. One of Mugabe’s key campaign issues in the election was indigenisation (forcing foreign companies to give at stake of at least 51 per cent to black Zimbabweans) which has made investors nervous. Analysts have cut growth estimates for the country from 5 per cent to 3.4 per cent. The funding situation for development organisations, including CA partners, remains unclear following the election results. Most stakeholders look at how the economy performs, at service delivery and at human rights issues when weighing up funding grants. However, the current political calm has been welcomed.
Drought and a looming food crisis
Erratic rains and unusual mid-season droughts over the past year have triggered critical levels of crop failure in Zimbabwe, leaving more than two million people in need of urgent food assistance in the coming lean months, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). The meagre maize and cereal harvest combined with rapidly tumbling grain stocks and subsequent inflated prices have also forced President Mugabe’s government to depend upon expensive food imports, mainly from neighbouring Zambia and South Africa. ‘The food security situation in Zimbabwe is dire, especially in the arid and marginalised Matabeleland provinces where Christian Aid and our local partner organisations work’, warns Miriam Machaya, country programme manager for Christian Aid Zimbabwe. In Insiza district particularly, partner Zimpro reports that the hunger situation is precarious, with only three out of 23 wards recording any surplus food.