Annual Report: Zimbabwe 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Zimbabwe 2010

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Head of state and government Robert Mugabe
Death penalty retentionist
Population 12.5 million
Life expectancy 43.4 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 100/88 per 1000
Head of state and government Robert Mugabe
Death penalty retentionist
Population 12.5 million
Life expectancy 43.4 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 100/88 per 1000
Adult literacy 91.2 per cent

The human rights situation improved slightly with the setting up of a unity government in February. However, harassment and intimidation persisted of human rights defenders, political activists and supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Scores of people perceived to be critics of the former ruling Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU-PF) were targeted for arrest. State institutions controlled by ZANU-PF continued to target perceived political opponents, putting strain on the fragile unity government. Tensions within state institutions fuelled attacks on MDC-T activists in rural areas as well as on some commercial farms.

The economy showed the first signs of improvement since the crisis began in 2000. The Zimbabwe dollar was scrapped and hard currencies such as the US dollar and South African rand were used instead. This brought inflation under control and improved availability of food in shops. However, many poor households had no access to foreign currencies and could not afford fees for education and health care. Intervention by humanitarian agencies led to health facilities and schools reopening; most had closed in 2007.

Background

On 27 January, Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders held an extraordinary summit in South Africa to try to break the political impasse in Zimbabwe that followed the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) on 15 September 2008. The three parties to the GPA - ZANU-PF, MDCT and the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara - had reached a deadlock over the allocation of key ministries.

Following the SADC intervention, Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as Prime Minister on 11 February with two deputies - Arthur Mutambara of the MDC and Thokhozani Khupe of the MDC-T. Other members of the unity government were sworn in on 14 February. However, the unity government remained fragile mainly due to President Mugabe's refusal to implement parts of the GPA. ZANU-PF argued that the MDC-T had not done enough to lobby for the end of targeted sanctions imposed by the EU and the USA. In October, the MDC-T boycotted three cabinet meetings in protest over delays in implementing the GPA. The MDC-T only resumed attending cabinet meetings after a SADC-convened summit on 5 November. The summit gave the parties 30 days to resume dialogue to resolve the impasse. By the end of the year, none of the major issues had been resolved. Victims of the 2005 mass forced evictions continued to live in deplorable conditions.

Freedom of expression, association and assembly

Suppression of human rights defenders and perceived political opponents of ZANU-PF persisted. Scores of human rights and political activists were arrested and charged after exercising their rights.