/ 18 November 2018

Zimbabwe: The year since Mugabe’s ousting

Emmerson Mnangagwa is sworn in on November 24
Emmerson Mnangagwa is sworn in on November 24, setting out a programme that envisages a reversal of many of Robert Mugabe's signature policies and promising that elections due in 2018 would go ahead. (AFP)

Here is a summary of key developments since Robert Mugabe was ousted as president of Zimbabwe a year ago after 37 years in charge of the southern African country.

Mugabe forced out

On November 21, 2017, 93-year-old Mugabe bows to mounting pressure and resigns in a letter to parliament, which was about to debate his impeachment.

Military generals had seized power days earlier after he fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, amid concern Mugabe was positioning his wife Grace to succeed him.

Cheering crowds race through the streets of the capital as the news spreads. Britain and the United States welcome Mugabe’s departure.

Mnangagwa returns to Zimbabwe from South Africa the following day, having fled after his dismissal two weeks earlier.

New president pledges polls

Mnangagwa is sworn in on November 24, setting out a programme that envisages a reversal of many of Mugabe’s signature policies and promising that elections due in 2018 would go ahead.

In February 2018, veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai dies of cancer. His Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) picks former youth activist Nelson Chamisa to lead it into the election set for July 30.

On June 23 a bomb explodes as Mnangagwa leaves the podium at a campaign rally for his ZANU-PF party in the opposition stronghold city of Bulawayo. He escapes unharmed but two bodyguards are killed.

First post-Mugabe vote

Long queues form outside polling stations on July 30 as thousands vote, turnout is estimated at 75%.

Early the next morning, with vote counting under way, Chamisa claims he is “winning resoundingly”. Mnangagwa says he is “extremely positive”.

As tensions mount, the election authority rejects opposition allegations of rigging.

Violence erupts

On August 1, the election commission announces that ZANU-PF has easily won most of the seats in parliament but does not give the results for the presidential vote.

The opposition alleges fraud and its supporters take to the streets of Harare, with violence erupting. Soldiers fire live rounds and six people are killed.

As international condemnation pours in, the government warns it will “not tolerate” unrest.

Mnangagwa declared winner

In the early hours of August 3, the electoral commission declares Mnangagwa the winner with 50.8% of the vote against Chamisa’s 44.3%.

Chamisa rejects the results as “fraudulent, illegal, illegitimate” and vows to challenge them in court.

On August 6, 27 MDC members appear in court on violence charges related to the post-election protests.

The MDC lodges a bid to overturn the election results on August 10. The Constitutional Court dismisses it on August 24 for a lack of evidence.

Mnangagwa is inaugurated on August 26, calling for unity and a focus on the economic challenges facing the nation. He announces an enquiry into the election killings.

Cholera and crackdowns

The opposition walks out of Mnangagwa’s inaugural address to parliament on September 18, when he announces measures to tackle the economic crisis and a deadly cholera outbreak.

On October 11, police arrest scores of trade union leaders and activists ahead of national protests against price and tax hikes. The demonstrations would have violated a ban on public gatherings because of the spreading cholera.

At a rally to mark the MDC’s 19th anniversary, Chamisa insists on October 27 that he had won the July elections. This gathering had been banned several times, with police citing the cholera epidemic.

On November 7 two government ministers under Mugabe appear in court on corruption charges.

© Agence France-Presse