Elections in Zimbabwe


I am sure many of you will have been following the developments in Zimbabwe over the last few weeks, as I have.

Zimbabwe, once seen as a future beacon for Africa, today faces economic ruin with inflation running at above 100,000% and unemployment at about 80%. For millions of people in Zimbabwe every day life is a battle against poverty, disease and disempowerment. Life expectancy is down to only 37 years for men and 34 years for women. It is estimated that nearly 1.8 million people are living with HIV/AIDS and nearly 2,500 are dying every week from AIDS related deaths.

But, for all this suffering, the elections that took place at the end of March represent a glimmer of hope for the country’s future. Despite the conditions in which they took place, millions of ordinary Zimbabweans queued quietly to make their voice heard.

So far we know that Robert Mugabe’s party, Zanu PF, have lost the majority in Parliament which they have held since independence in 1980. As I write this, no announcement of the Presidential results has yet been made. It is vital that these results are released in full as soon as possible. There are worrying reports starting to appear that the police are clamping down on election officials and that violence is breaking out. We all hope that a situation like we saw in Kenya earlier this year can be avoided.

It is possible that Mugabe will try to hang on to his 28 year rule of power at all costs. This will present a challenge to the international community, in particular to Zimbabwe’s neighbours, to ensure that the will of the people is accepted. This is a challenge that we, and they, must face.

I was in the Commons last Wednesday to hear the Foreign Secretary’s statement on the current situation. In that statement he said that he hoped that the people of Zimbabwe will hear one message: ‘that we stand with them at this moment of opportunity and that we share their demand for a democratic future’. I, for one, fully support this message.

I am cautious of what may happen in the coming weeks – but I hope that this glimmer of hope may just bring a new future to the people of Zimbabwe.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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