Once upon a time, they called him the best president in Africa; then from 2000 when Zimbabwe began its controversial land reform programme, he became a Hitler, the worst dictator in Africa. Western leaders refused to even shake hands with him. Today, on the eve of crucial national elections in Zimbabwe, the West is back in Harare, seeking friendship and reconciliation with the man they recently called a tyrant. Reporting from Harare, our editor Baffour Ankomah says vindication and victory could never be sweeter for Zimbabwe’s president and his people than to see his former enemies coming back with doves in hand.
This year is a critical one for Zimbabwe. The Inclusive Government that has ruled the country since February 2009 and provided some semblance of economic and political stability, will come to an end. In its place will be a government formed exclusively by either Zanu PF or MDC-T.
A 16 March referendum on a new constitution received a massive “yes” vote, paving the way for elections in the next few months. In the meantime, evidence recently published shows that the country’s controversial land reform programme has enabled black farmers to reach, in just 12 years, the same level of production white farmers achieved before the reforms. Osei Boateng reports.
With the reputation of the national game in tatters, the country has a tough job of cleaning up its soiled image, reports Steve Vickers from Harare.
From the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, Mwalimu Mate-Kole takes issue with Onyekachi Wambu’s December 2012 column in which he suggested that liberation parties in Southern Africa should split and create room for “normal competitive politics to resume”.
Tichaona Zindoga ponders what the year 2013 holds for Zimbabwe as he looks back at the year 2012. Some political leaders say 2012 was good for the country, others think not.
Roy Agyemang, a British-born Ghanaian, has become the first “Western” film director to have close access to Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe. His film, five years in the making and controversially titled Mugabe: Villain or Hero?, was premiered on 15 December 2012 at the British Film Institute in the heart of London where it received a prolonged standing ovation at the end of the screening. Here, Roy Agyemang tells how he got to make the film, and how he saw Zimbabwe and its longstanding leader while working on the project.
Following last month’s high court ruling, elections could be held in March next year and as New African’s Tichaona Zindoga writes from Harare, although three parties in the “inclusive” government say they are ready, a referendum on a new constitution which will outline the framework and reforms for the elections could be the litmus test of things to come.
With a year to go, Zimbabwe and its neighbour Zambia, the co-hosts of the UN World Tourism Organisation (WTO) 20th General Assembly in August next year, are preparing feverishly for the event, reports Tichaona Zindoga from Harare.
The US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray has ended his tour of duty after three years in the country. Speaking to youth groups as part of his winding-up programme, he said he remained “cautiously optimistic” about Zimbabwe. “The long-term future for this country is bright…”, he added.
In May, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, visited Zimbabwe to see things for herself. She pronounced herself “happy” with land reform, but was “concerned” with political polarisation in the country. And then she said the unsayable: “Sanctions have had a harmful impact on Zimbabweans.” Tichaona Zindoga reports from Harare.