Hi, first we shall explore the rise of the Movement of the Democratic Change i.e. what factors contributed to the rise of the party
Post Independence, Mugabe’s new government moved deliberately to redress inequalities of race and class, redistribute land held by the white minority, and promote economic development, with a one-party socialist state as its long-term goal. During the 1980s, drought and white emigration badly damaged the economy, which was already strained by the need for massive government spending in the long-neglected areas of education, health, and social services for the black majority. In 1982 Mugabe charged that Nkomo was plotting a coup and dismissed him from his cabinet, while arresting other leaders of ZAPU. Nkomo’s supporters in the Matabeleland region retaliated, precipitating a civil war. Fighting did not cease until Mugabe and Nkomo reached an agreement in December 1987 whereby ZAPU was subsumed into ZANU-PF, Mugabe became the country’s first executive president, and Nkomo became one of the nation’s two vice presidents. Mugabe was reelected in 1990, 1996, and 2002.
The economy continued to lag throughout the 1990s as inflation soared, and a high level of unemployment led to significant unrest. In 1998 Mugabe’s intervention in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa)—purportedly to protect his personal investments—resulted in suspension of international economic aid for Zimbabwe. This suspension of aid and the millions of dollars spent to intervene in the war further weakened Zimbabwe’s already troubled economy.
The issue of land reform and the rise of the Movement for Democratic Change
Throughout the 1980s and ’90s the government continued to struggle with the issue of land reform. Some 4,000 white farmers collectively controlled about one-third of Zimbabwe’s arable land, and hundreds of white-owned farms were either officially redistributed by the government or partially taken over by squatters responding to government promises and the lack of police deterrence. Nevertheless, public support for the farmers and opposition to Mugabe’s increasingly autocratic rule were evidenced by the defeat of a referendum in February 2000 calling for a new constitution that would have extended Mugabe’s rule for two more six-year terms and given him the power to confiscate white-owned farms without compensation, as well as by the June elections, in which the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai won almost half of the parliamentary seats.
Despite the apparent reprieve for white owners, a law was passed in 2002 that allowed Mugabe to pursue an aggressive program of confiscating their farms, forcing more than half of the country’s white farmers to relinquish their property and rendering tens of thousands of black farm workers homeless and unemployed. As was the case in the 1990s, property was often claimed by politically connected individuals with little or no farming experience rather than by the landless peasant farmers or war veterans who were supposed to benefit from the redistribution program. The government’s lack of forethought in forcing out the white farmers and not replacing them with experienced farm workers contributed to a significant decline in agricultural productivity; this, as well as drought, led to severe food shortages.
- Sanger, C and Bradley, K (2016) ‘Zimbabwe’