Zimbabwe is a south African country, sharing its borders with Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique. The country gained its full independence from the United Kingdom in 1980, having been administered by the British Crown since 1895. As a former colony, the two nations share a special relationship, which continues to garner attention from the international community. Since 1980, the Prime Minister and later, President Robert Mugabe has governed the country.
Since Mugabe took control, the relationship between Zimbabwe and the UK has been conflicted. Installing an authoritarian regime, Mugabe expropriated white farmers from the country, resulting in a serious agrarian crisis that has yet to be overcome. Following the expropriation of white farmers from their land and the repression of opposition political parties- supported by the British government- the Mugabe government’s relationship with the UK further soured. Repression of opposition political forces, electoral frauds, unemployment and exiting from the Commonwealth set the background of the early 2000s.
The disconnect between Zimbabwe and the UK has prevented talks, negotiations and soft diplomacy from developing. Mugabe’s authoritarian regime engaged in threatening behaviour against politicians belonging to opposition parties, tightened rules and regulations related to housing, reserved the right to retain a citizen’s passport in the name of “national interest” and persecuted the minority Ndebele. People began fleeing the country. Mugabe initiated a Senate under the guise of diplomacy, but in truth it acted merely to support his own will. Mugabe went on to win each presidential election from 2002 till 2013, which were widely criticized as rigged and irregular by observers. The UK came to the conclusion that Mugabe and his political party, ZANU-PF, were immovable and made the decision to considerably decrease the level of economic and military trade between the two nations, as well as severing development assistance.
The theatre of continuous political violence, corruption and economic collapse saw inflation in the country soar. In 2009, the US dollar was adopted to stem the hyperinflation. 9 out of 10 people became jobless, along with the collapse of public services. An epidemic of cholera resulting from the poor living conditions of the population later resulted in the death of thousands of people.
After expressing his will to see his wife as the next President of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean army initiated a coup d’état in 2017. Mugabe resigned at the age of 93, after 37 years in power. His former Prime Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was placed as interim President. Recent elections- also suspected of being rigged- saw Mnangagwa elected President.
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Image courtesy of Babak Fakhamzadeh via Flickr