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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
What future for Zimbabwe?
President Robert Mugabe's governing Zanu-PF party has gained a narrow victory in Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections. Yet the opposition Movement for Democratic Change can also claim a victory of sorts.

News and Information for Africa
They took 57 out of the 120 directly-elected seats in the new parliament. In the previous one, only three seats were held by the opposition.

Election monitors gave the vote, and subsequent count, a clean bill of health. But they condemned the violence and intimidation by government supporters in the run-up to the poll.

So what now for Zimbabwe? Is this the end of the one-party state? What should president Mugabe do now?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

I can't take Mugabe seriously anymore. Let's face it, even Idiot Amin in a senile condition could run the country better. He should retire and take up something more suited to his abilities, burger flipper at Burger King might be suitable.
Andy, UK

How will the MDC create jobs that are desperately needed in the urban areas?

George Shire, United Kingdom
What exactly does the MDC stand for and what difference will they make to the major battles over health, technology, ecology and land, and in particular the debt crisis that is engulfing the whole region? Are they not the ones who have been involved for more than a year in a campaign to discourage investment in Zimbabwe? How will the MDC create jobs that are desperately needed in the urban areas, and which regional institutions will they work with?
George Shire, United Kingdom

The Western Governments should withdraw ALL aid to Zimbabwe and the whites who still live there should leave, taking economic and agricultural knowledge with them......and then see how well Mugabe and his thugs rule this desperate country.
Steve, England

Have your say
Good luck Mugabe and I hope there can be a peaceful resolution

Virnet , St. Lucia
I am not in support of the violence which has characterised the land crisis in Zimbabwe, but it is time that the world realises that there are too many disenfranchised blacks and something must be done to ensure that blacks around the world, especially in Africa, regain their birthright. Good luck Mugabe and I hope there can be a peaceful resolution - Africans must unite.
Virnet, St. Lucia

Given all the anti-Mugabe idiocy here, thank God Zanu-PF won the election. Mugabe is the only bulwark against another capitulation to white dominance in Africa. I hope he confiscates ALL the stolen white lands.
L. Nicholas, UK

Why is the West prepared to negotiate with a man who takes pleasure out of nicknaming himself "Hitler" Hunzvi? I wonder if a politician in Europe, UK or America had such a name whether world leaders would be prepared to negotiate with such a government?
Lourens, UK

Step down Mugabe with what little dignity you have left

Jane, UK
It seems the older these African rulers get the more stubborn and selfish they become. Step down Mugabe with what little dignity you have left.
Jane, UK

Apart from South Africa, Zimbabwe now has the ability to be a shining light in "colonial" Africa. Foreign powers should support the MDC, forget about political correctness and the country will have a chance to stop its decline. A vast majority of learned people can see what has happened to Zimbabwe over the years, and it is to his credit that Morgan Tsvingirai has managed to achieve the results he has under the conditions.
Peter, New Zealand

I think Zimbabwe has achieved what most African countries can't, which was to hold free and fair elections. I was, however, saddened by the media coverage of the elections as the international media seem to be waiting for civil war to break out so they can have more "exciting news" to cover.
Tsitsi, Zimbabwe

Congratulations to a courageous and heroic people, I am so proud of you. Keep your heads held high and together anything is possible. Only by standing together in unity can we overcome this evil man. Let's forget the past, the differences, the anger and hatred. Let's move forward together and rebuild Zimbabwe back into the mighty and beautiful nation that she once was.
Dale, Ohio, USA

I voted for the MDC, why? I think the American and the British governments should work up from their deep slumber and give us those guns so that we remove this idiot from power. The people of Zimbabwe are prepared to to war to remove Mugabe especially the people of Matebeleland in particular.
Canaan Ncube, Zimbabwe

Elections in Zimbabwe - what a farce as the killings and intimidation go on you could put this man alongside Stalin. Africa is a wonderful place and the people too but all too often it is destroyed by despots and gangsters terrorising the people and destroying the economy in the pursuit of self interest. Why do they do it to their own people and treat them like serfs and chattels.
D Tyler, England

I am sick and tired of the hypocritical rhetoric of Mugabe and his apologists. On the one hand, they say, "Give us money to finance our 'projects'" but on the other hand they say, "Mind your own business." They say "Give us money for land reform so that peasants will benefit" but when western donors or S. Africa say "Ok, so long as it benefits peasant farmers" and this causes Mugabe and his types to cry foul. They (the governing elite) want money with no strings attached. I am very pleased for my (US) govt to finance projects which benefit PEOPLE in developing countries but I DO NOT want my money to be used for Mugabe, his ministers and party hacks to buy more cars or villas!
Brian Farenell, New York, United States

Stop bleating about Robert Mugabe and the atrocities he has committed in Zimbabwe. After all it was the west - and Britain in particular - that handed the country to Mugabe on a plate and that have aided him ever since.
Jon, UK

We Zimbabweans have been living under a minority dictatorship or near dictatorship for 35 years now. So far we have much better than most other African countries. I sincerely hope, the result of the recent elections clearly demonstrates things are turning around and will get better. But while Mugabe is in power one can not be so certain about the future because he is highly unpredictable - sounding like a statesman one moment and turning into a ranting autocrat the next.
Jupiter Punungwe, Zimbabwe

Nothing has been achieved. With diabolical cunning the vote was manipulated into an impasse. We as farmers live on the farms with the people at our gates, and beating on the doors. Let them take the land as soon as possible, so as to resolve the issue once and for all. Starving is such fun.
Ann Hein, Zimbabwe

I am constantly amazed at the ineptness of the African nations. Politically unsound and socially backward, isn't it about time that they actually asked for help?
I Garrison, England

One of the major concerns is that even after the election, there seems to be continued violence in the rural areas

Laki, USA
I am a Zimbabwe citizen currently living in New York. However, I have family and friends in the country who send me reports on a daily basis. One of the major concerns is that even after the election, there seems to be continued violence in the rural areas. More and more people are flooding into the cities to escape "punishment" for voting MDC. This punishment is being carried out by the current government.
Laki, USA

Congratulations to all Zimbabweans for the political maturity they displayed. However, did it have to take this long for us to realise we needed an alternative to Zanu-PF. The strength of our future economy and livelihood is possible by ensuring we always voice our concerns through the ballot. Well done MDC.
Ivan Kasozi, USA

Bring back Ian Smith. He wouldn't have stood for this nonsense. He was a good leader. A gentleman, in fact and he actually cared for his people.
Harry Wentworth, UK Devonshire, England

Are the half of the Zimbabwean population who voted for MDC all "stooges of imperialists"? What kind of idiot rhetoric is that?
M. Conomos, Australia

Why are we sending money to Zimbabwe to help with land distribution?

Steve W, UK
The MDC obtaining power is one thing, being able to keep it is quite another. I strongly believe that the MDC MPs have now put themselves forward as targets for Mugabe's Zanu-PF thugs, and those that "do" survive will very likely be blamed, along with the white farmers, for all the country's ills. Also, why are we sending money to Zimbabwe to help with land distribution? Why not keep the money in the UK for the white Zimbabwean farmers to collect when they emigrate from the country? With Zimbabwe's exceedingly strict exchange controls, they wouldn't be able to take the money out of the country anyhow.
Steve W, UK

It's high time that Europe stopped telling developing countries what do. l think we are political mature now, as has been demonstrated in Zimbabwe's recent elections. They want everything to go their way, which is very unfair to other countries. Let Mugabe and Tsvangirai talk like brothers and reach a compromise.
Mluleki Dube, Zimbabwe

Mugabe should be impeached and be put on trial for atrocities against humanity. Your contributor from Israel who applauds Mugabe should come and live here under our conditions of dire poverty, 70% inflation, no drugs, fuel shortages, unemployment and government-backed torture and murder into the bargain. His intimidation and terrorism in the rural areas has worked as planned - they have got the rural vote through fear and through more empty promises.
Carol, Zimbabwe

Mugabe's theft of white legally owned land has caused hardship not just for the whites but also for black workers. The moment the land is confiscated, it is allowed to go to ruin therefore depriving people of work and causing great economic hardship to the country as a whole.
James F.A. Chespy, UK

The future for Zimbabwe is bleak whilst Mugabe remains the President

Pete, Belgium
The future for Zimbabwe is bleak whilst Mugabe remains the President. I forsee that the economy will get even worse, foreign aid will be withdrawn and that Zimbabwe will become regarded as a pariah state all because a throughly evil man is determined to hold onto power no matter what. Mugabe has condoned and even encouraged murder - he should be treated like the war criminal he is and not be allowed to oversee a human tragedy which is unfolding, with his blessing, in Zimbabwe. Only then will Zimbabwe see a reversal in its fortunes.
Pete, Belgium

Like any country which has fallen victim to dictatorship and one regime for over a decade or two, the characteristics are economic hardship, numerous sanctions to the extent that they need a wheelbarrow of native currency to buy a loaf of bread. Let's sit back and watch Zimbabwe become just like the Democratic Republic of Congo during Mobutu's regime.
Grace Akello, Uganda

I would like to congratulate the opposition and the electorate for sending a clear message to Mugabe that he is no longer popular

Killian Mabhena, Zimbabwe
While I don't support the idea of Zanu-PF having majority seats in Parliament, I would like to congratulate the opposition and the electorate for sending a clear message to Mugabe that he is no longer popular. If Mugabe really was for peace, reconciliation and unity, for the benefit of the country, he should include the opposition in the Cabinet.
Killian Mabhena, Zimbabwe

Developed countries maintain political stability by pouring billions of US dollars into social welfare and health programs (look what happened when Hillary tried to tinker with health care in the USA). The way malevolent dictators are dealt with today is by providing information to the people via the internet and direct radio broadcasts from satellites. The people will then look after themselves. To Mugabe's credit, Zimbabwe does have one of the freest presses in Africa. As I see it, Mugabe is using textbook rules to transform Zimbabwe into a real democracy (creating a civil society, allowing a free press, providing education, etc.).
Garth, Zimbabwe

We are sick and tired of dictators and they should remember that Africa belongs to the people and not those who think that they can destroy life just to benefit them.

Paul Peters, Namibia
I think the message is clear to people like President Mugabe who thinks that African leaders have every right to manipulate their people just, because of the role they played in the liberation struggle. We are sick and tired of dictators and they should remember that Africa belongs to the people and not those who think that they can destroy life just to benefit them. We want to move forward and we can't continue blaming the West for all our mistakes and sufferings. We don't need wars in Africa, what we need is economic growth and the best for our people.
Paul Peters, Namibia

I am very happy to see that Zimbabweans have decided it is time for a change. What I don't understand is the rhetoric that is coming out from countries like Britain. This same Britain turned a blind eye when Nigerian opposition leaders were been murdered in hundreds. They even refused to publicly condemn the military dictator who cancelled an election that was free and fair and also put the winner in jail where he eventually died. When is the double standard attitude going to stop? I hope the west realise that the youth of Africa are watching.
Lola Onigbogi, UK

It's all good that there is balance of power which MDC holds now, however MDC should not use this as to hold-up land reforms which the rural Zimbabwean critically need. Transparent Land reforms and sound economic policies to attract foreign investors should be addressed first.
Tendai Masamba, Zimbabwean in New Zealand

The question really is whether the MDC leader will be able to resist the temptations which will surely be placed before him,

Peter, USA
Mugabe will now attempt to do with the MDC what he did to ZAPU and Joshua Nkomo. He will, with one hand, entice them with offers of powerful positions, free land and all the other trappings found in African politics whilst, with the other, attempt to eradicate them, using physical violence if necessary. The question really is whether the MDC leader will be able to resist the temptations which will surely be placed before him, while at the same time staying vigilant long enough to contest the Presidential elections in 2002.
Peter, USA

Since Mugabe came to power he has thought only of his own personal gains. The welfare of his people and country mean precious little to him. How the world can sit and watch the destruction of a tyrant like this, is beyond me.
Tessa Wilson, U.K

The one party state is dead! Long live democracy! I predict that ZANU-PF will exist as a footnote in the history books of Zimbabwe, a generation from now.
Dilip Jivan, USA

Between the period of 1980 and 1989, everyone thought Mugabe's mother had wisdom in giving him the name Gabriel - an angels name. Now we all wonder why he wasn't named Lucifer, after the devil himself!
Blinky Mabinya, Zimbabwe

Mugabe has been served notice that his time is up.

Terry McGinn, South Africa
Mugabe has been served notice that his time is up. He should include the MDC in his cabinet and try to establish a Government that would resurrect the shattered economy and alleviate the suffering of the people in Zimbabwe. Mugabe's Government should then endeavour to encourage the repatriation of Zimbabwean exiles. The vast majority of these exiles are skilled and enterprising individuals who would no doubt be vital in assisting the rebuilding of the Nation.
Terry McGinn, South Africa

Congratulations to MDC, but what does it change - nothing. The whole EU should hit Zimbabwe where it hurts - in its pockets. Essentially Mugabe is a tin pot dictator who thinks he can intimidate whites to his own political gain. Unfortunately this has back fired somewhat and I suspect if the true figure of voters was revealed - including the 7% who mysteriously 'disappeared' from the electoral role and were allowed a vote - we would have a different picture. Any government that intimidates a minority should be forcibly removed by the international community.
Mark, Germany

The recent elections in Zimbabwe should send a very clear message that Mugabe's iron fist rule will not be tolerated anymore. Congratulations to the MDC, stand firm and continue the struggle.
Glenn Peterson, USA

To show that Britain is willing to help Zimbabwe they should authorise some money to be given soon.

Farai, Zimbabwe
To show that Britain is willing to help Zimbabwe they should authorise some money to be given soon. Full participation on distribution of land and paying for the land should be done by all member of parliaments. Britain should make it clear that the reason they are donating the funds is because they now believe that money will go towards the right direction.
Farai, Zimbabwe

Why is it that when our parents were being butchered during the election the international community did not intervene?
Shep Munengwa, Zimbabwe

Why should the West recognise the more than tainted results of this election. Zimbabwe doesn't have anything we need, and the West has grown far too quick to recognise governments that have no mandate. I think the true democratic countries should stop treating ALL non-democratic governments as legitimate.
Robert Posey, USA

Congratulations to President Mugabe for his victory against the stooges of British imperialists

N, Israel
Congratulations to President Mugabe for his victory against the stooges of British imperialists. His glorious party ZANU FP which brought true democracy to Zimbabwe has received another 5 year mandate to continue ruling the country.
His first and foremost role is to protect his country from the imperialist forces that have tried so vigorously tried to take over the country using the MDC. He should not accept or even plan to have these people in his cabinet for this will effectively mean having agents of the British government in his cabinet. God forbid. He is a man of struggle and he should continue with the struggle against the imperial forces.
N, Israel

I am so proud of my fellow Zimbabweans for seizing their power and exercising their rights to bring about change in Zimbabwe. It is clear, the people have spoken they are tired of the old way of doing business. They are tired of the empty promises and rhetoric of ZANU. ZANU has held on, BUT, by a narrow margin. It will no longer be business as usual. This is a new day!
Zanele H. Sibanda, Zimbabwe (living in USA)

It makes my blood boil to see a despot such as Mugabe retain power in Zimbabwe

Sally, UK
As an ex-Zambian with numerous family ties in Zimbabwe, it makes my blood boil to see a despot such as Mugabe retain power in Zimbabwe. However, we all know that he had no intention of backing down, regardless of the result. I pray that there will now be a period during which the country can claw back some of the major losses it has gone through, such as the destruction of most of this year's tobacco crop which will mean little money for the coming year.
I think it is imperative that the international community continues to pay attention and attempt to monitor the situation as best they can. We all know that the trouble is not over, nor likely to be until Mugabe is finally ousted.
Sally, UK

I am hopeful that the election results will have a positive effect. The ZANU PF's slight majority forces them to compromise. The MDC's significant minority gives the fledgling party the opportunity to force good governance, rather than be corrupted by too much power too quickly.
Mugabe is now a liability to the ZANU PF and therefore will have to compromise or face expulsion by his own party. I believe that the extent of the leadership void in Zimbabwe will only be realised once the dust settles. The ZANU PF will have to reinvent their image if they are to survive another election.
Mike, UK

President Robert Mugabe should now take a hard look at those who were critical of his rule leading up to the election and act to ensure similar acts are not repeated

Steve, USA
People only wish to see the bad in Mr Robert Mugabe. Why does the British Press paint him in such a bad light? Why should he step down? He won fair and square as he did when he beat that Bishop Muzawara back in 1980. Only then the British thought he was great.
The tactics used then are the same as employed today. Nothing has changed, the one party state will continue and the British will still moan if they are requested to provide more aid to support this independent and proud people. President Robert Mugabe should now take a hard look at those who were critical of his rule leading up to the election and act to ensure similar acts are not repeated.
Steve, USA

I would like to congratulate this young party in its infancy for a good showing in the face of mounting intimidation. The masses must not lose heart with this, this is the beginning of an end an era.
Cheer up folks, history will always repeat itself. This world has seen some of the most ruthless dictators, but when winds of change begin to blow across the political landscape, the political configuration of such a country will be altered. Zimbabwe is no exception despite what the leaders in power might want to think otherwise.
Hannington, Zimbabwe

Statistics will show that in the areas with the highest levels of intimidation, Mugabe won the most votes

Paul Ncube, Zimbabwe
While the vote in Zimbabwe for the opposition party was a tremendous victory for courage, determination and the will to change, it is not enough.
The world should cry "foul!" at the way in which Zanu PF won their seats. Statistics will show that in the areas with the highest levels of intimidation, Mugabe won the most votes. For example, with a level of about 75% intimidation, the result was 83% support. Where there was no high level of intimidation, the opposition won 100%.
Now that Zimbabwe has had no effective executive changes, the economy will sink into further decay and leave many of us economic or political refugees.
Paul Ncube, Zimbabwe

The future could be more stable than most people think given that Mugabe has reared a reputation of unusual political astuteness. If he uses the opportunity to weed out dead wood, incorporate capable and intelligent individuals like Simba Makoni in his cabinet, reduce the size of the cabinet, offer a hand of reconciliation to MDC (unlikely though) and proceed with land distribution sensibly, he will have done himself and the country a great deal of service.
Petros Ruwocha, Zimbabwe

How the mighty have fallen. The best thing for Mugabe to do is to engage in serious dialogue with the opposition with the view of coming up with a coalition government. Any attempts to ignore this phenomenal success by the opposition will spell further disaster for him. It's time to swallow pride and come to terms with reality. The people of Zimbabwe have spoken and are still going to speak. Forward ever, backwards never.
Thulani Moyo, Zimbabwe

While the MDC can be congratulated for performing exceptionally well under the circumstances, I am despondent that our economy will descend into even greater chaos. Mugabe will continue to ride roughshod over the basic human rights of Zimbabweans. My heart goes out to all those whose families were affected by the violence and who are now expected to live side by side with these thugs that have beaten, raped and tortured their husbands, wives, children and other relatives. I hope the world doesn't forget too soon about the immense suffering that all Zimbabweans have been and are going to be subject to.
Kathy, Zimbabwe

The MDC now holds about one-third of parliamentary seats - enough to influence, and play an active part in government, which should lead to a better future for Zimbabwe. However, the gains by the MDC will have the negative effect of putting Mugabe under pressure from voters and from the new MPs. Mugabe has been shown not to act well under pressure in the past.
Mark Nogula, Great Britain

As expected by any intelligent Zimbabwean Mugabe has done it again! The West has played right into his hands.
Dave, UK

We must not forget that Mugabe has won an election, the result of which must be respected

Ken Beach, Germany
This is, I hope, the beginning of the end of the one-party state. One-party white colonial rule was replaced by its black equivalent (hardly a revolution), and now people want genuine change. The move away from dictatorship is in line with developments in many other parts of the world, and Zimbabwe is no exception. There is now a credible alternative, but we must not forget that Mugabe has won an election, the result of which must be respected.
Ken Beach, Germany

Zimbabwe must stop living in a state of paranoia with regard to the West, and start looking for shared goals and paths to economic co-operation, just like India is currently doing. Mugabe is the wrong man to lead Zimbabwe, unless Zimbabwe wishes to remain internationally isolated.
Rahul Mahajan, UK

Fantastic performance by the MDC. They could have won it if they had shown respect for our war veterans and the urgent need for land. Fantastic performance, nonetheless. I hope in parliament they stand for Zimbabwe and will not be difficult unnecessarily.
Jabu Sithole, Zimbabwe

Mugabe should correctly interpret the message from the results of the recent parliamentary elections and step down as leader of his party to enable the party to reform and identify with the new order of globalisation.
He is the stumbling block to the reformation which urgently needed by his party as he lives in the past and appeals to history for salvation when things go wrong instead of hatching out plan 'B' which should take the nation into the future.
Zeke, Zimbabwe

The country now has an opposition, a fairly powerful one at that and we should butt out and mind our own business

Bob, UK
It does seem as though the UK has an unhealthy interest in seeing Mugabe toppled from power. It really isn't our business what they do (except I suspect that our multinational mining and tobacco companies would have preferred a different outcome at any cost). The country now has an opposition, a fairly powerful one at that and we should butt out and mind our own business...or am I missing something?
Bob, UK

I think that Mugabe should either stand down or be made to stand down, he has bankrupted his country. He should take a hint and stop annoying everybody. Dishonest, pig headed dictators have no place in the 21st century. His country could achieve so much without him. He may have bullied and cheated to retain control of his people's country but justice comes to us all sooner or later.
It is a shame to think that power can corrupt, he should know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of actions such as his.
John Hyde, UK

We might condemn the intimidation and violence in the campaigning up to the election but we should take care to remember that this was/is also the case with politics in our own backyard i.e. Northern Ireland
David C. Cooper, Scotland

Mr Mugabe...Look at the facts, you are on your way out - Your country needs change and you are not the person the people want

Stephen Burgess, Germany
Mr Mugabe...Look at the facts, you are on your way out. Your country needs change and you are not the person the people want.
Stop the rhetoric.
Your country is suffering - no jobs, no fuel, inflation, worthless currency, war.......how much more will they suffer - not because of the colonial powers and Tony Blair - but because of you policies. The Zimbabwean people need to re-build their country, but with a different person at the helm.
Stephen Burgess, Germany

Mugabe now has two years to show he can change his dictatorial ways before the next Presidential election. The people have spoken despite the intimidation. He can only ignore their views at his peril.
John, UK

Robert Mugabe should do the honourable thing and resign, and give Zimbabwe back to the people, so it can be governed by their will, and not Robert's.
Hannibal, South Africa

I would not be surprised if Mr Mugabe makes a U-turn domestically and starts buttering up the white farmers again

Jose Fernandez, Netherlands
I would not be surprised if Mr Mugabe makes a U-turn domestically and starts buttering up the white farmers again because he knows that he needs them. He has remained in power with a majority of 3 (without the 30 seats which he appoints) seats, so that basis enough to form a majority government. In an ideal world the west would remain anti-Mugabe but since there are so many riches in the Zimbabwean ground they will probably weaken their opposition to them.
Jose Fernandez, Netherlands


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