Politically Savvy: Zimbabwe Elections

Almost every week for the last few months now, I've written about the US presidential elections every Monday morning. Why? It's exciting, it directly affects all of us, it's happening right in front of us, and most importantly, it's all over the news all the time.

But this Monday morning, I wanted to blog about the elections in Zimbabwe, which are possibly even more important than our own elections. Maybe the out come of this election won't directly affect us all, but it's one of the biggest events to occur in the tumultuous political landscape of Zimbabwe in a long time, and much of the world is watching the election closely.

Zimbabwe has been led for 28 years by President Robert Mugabe, who now faces a serious challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai, who is running with the backing of the Movement for Democratic Change. As of Sunday night, the official results were not out yet, but many sources predicted that the MDC had defeated Mugabe, and by a landslide.

"If Mr. Mugabe, 84, is defeated, it may mean a new chance for a once prosperous country that now has one of the world’s sorriest economies. It would surely be a signal event for Africa itself, with another of its enduring autocrats beaten against long odds by the will of the electorate," reports the New York Times, on why this election has the potential to completely revolutionize Zimbabwe. Thing in Zimbabwe are dire–according to the New York Times, about 25% of Zimbabwe’s 13 million people have fled the country, and 80 percent to 90 percent of those left are unemployed. Furthermore, the inflation rate is more than 100,000 percent.

Zimbabwe's elections in the past have been the center of much controversy and accusations of fraud. Tsvangirai also ran against Mugabe in 2002. During the day, news coverage showed that it appeared Tsvangirai had a lead. Then in the middle of the day election coverage stopped–and when the broadcast resumed hours later, Mugabe had charged ahead based on "late returns"–yes, there were many outcries of fraud throughout the country.

This time, all signs point to a major lead by Tsvangirai–but will the government allow it? That remains to be seen in the next couple of days. The chief of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network seems suspicious of government activity– “The delay in announcing the votes has fueled the speculation that something is going on,” he said.


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