Zimbabwe: 2008 Elections and Implications for U.S. Policy
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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On March 29, 2008, Zimbabwe held presidential, parliamentary and local elections. Months later, the countrys political future remains uncertain. For the first time since independence, the ruling party has lost its majority in the National Assembly. After a month of rising tensions, the results of the presidential race were belatedly announced on May 2. They indicated that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had received more votes than the incumbent, President Robert Mugabe, but had failed to garner the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Days before that runoff was scheduled to take place, on June 27, 2008, Tsvangirai pulled out of the race, citing widespread political violence and the absence of conditions for a free and fair election. Mugabe was declared the winner in the runoff, which many observer missions suggest did not reflect the will of the people. Reports of violence and political repression increased significantly in the wake of the March elections, which were held amidst a deepening economic crisis in the Southern African country. Zimbabwes gross domestic product GDP has decreased over 50 percent in the last decade, the inflation rate is estimated in the millions, and unemployment is higher than 80 percent. The adult HIV infection rate of 20 percent has contributed to a sharp drop in life expectancy, and more than a third of the population is expected to require food aid in 2008. Deteriorating conditions in the country have led many Zimbabweans to emigrate to neighboring countries, creating a substantial burden on the region. In South Africa, Zimbabwean immigrants and others have been the target of xenophobic attacks.
- Government and Political Science