Is the balance shifting in Zimbabwe?

August 26, 2008

Zimbabwe's President Mugabe arrives for the official opening of the Parliament in Harare

This week’s reopening of Zimbabwe’s parliament had been seen by many as a show of defiance by President Robert Mugabe against an opposition that has so far rejected terms of a power-sharing deal that appear more acceptable to the veteran leader and to at least some of his regional counterparts.

But it may not have gone quite to plan.

The election of the parliamentary speaker chosen by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) came in spite of efforts by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF to bring in the candidate of the breakaway MDC faction. Members of that faction appear to have sided with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai rather than their own party leadership.

A policeman stands before a crowd of supporters of the opposition Movement For Democratic Change during the opening of the parliament.

Then Mugabe faced unprecedented boos and jeers as he delivered his speech at the reopening of parliament, where ZANU-PF has lost its majority for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980. Mugabe nonetheless said he was optimistic that a power-sharing deal would be reached.

Is there a shift in the balance of power in Zimbabwe? What might it all mean for talks and for chances of an agreement that could help to revive the stricken country?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

The world in Zimbabwe is very interesting. It is blessed with people that believe and know a better life and yet continue to be forced to live otherwise.

As a three time visitor in the past few years, I have observed the strength of the people of Zimbabwe – especially in Bullawayo – and the ability to know that there is a God that loves them and will not let them down. The world continues to tell them otherwise but look what is happening not!

In their humble and caring way the people of Zimbabwe continue to survive the corrupt and evil of this world. After all of this time and strife, may they be blessed with a life of peace and care – one free of oppression and strife!

The downfall (without violence) of the once well meaning and yet oppressive government will be the ultimate blessing for this country. As I see life get more challenging for many of us in the US, I am able to see the enormity of the situation when the redenomination of the currency involves taking away 10 zeros!

Do people around the world understand that the people suffering in Zimbabwe are educated, hard working people tha just want a chance to be the people that God made them to be. No more and no less.

Posted by Libby | Report as abusive

At last Mugabe might be getting the message!

This evil, psychotic monster who has ruined his country and worst of all, starved, denigrated, tortured and killed his own people, will start to realise that most of the country hate, loath and despise him.

He can never be forgiven for what he has done – too many people have been mutilated, crushed and murdered by his evil henchmen.

He is also guilty of the most ridiculous buckpassing by accusing ex-collonial countries of trying to ruin Zimbabwe, when all along this pathetic rhetotic of accusation was in fact a smoke screen to hide his own madness.

The mad, bad and dangerous Mugabe is now being brought to book and his people can look forward to some kind of end to Mugabes rule of terror.

Unfortunately, like most psychopaths, who lie and lie again, Mugabe is incapable of reflection, regret or self-deprecation. In HIS final, megaloniac, analyses, like all mad monsters, he will see what HE wants to see.

Pray that Zimbabwe can recover from this horror story, and very best wishes to the people of this abused state!

Posted by Colleen Banham | Report as abusive

Why are you all so obsessed with Zimbabwe?

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive

The obsession clearly rests with fears that the democratisation of land in Zimbabwe, via giving 300,000 people land which belonged to them, from 4000 settlers, may indeed spread across other Sub-Saharan African Countries.

Posted by dave | Report as abusive

Why are you not obsessed with Zimbabwe?

It is the epitome of Africa’s worst problem. Revolutionary leaders were necessary to remove dominant European influence from “colonies”. Now these same states have to compete with the rest of the world on a level playing field, and the revolutionary leaders of the past are not qualified to lead anymore. Just because a soldier/militant can win a war, doesn’t necessarily translate into leadership skills during times of peace. And when challenged, these same “heroes” will fight like cornered animals, even amongst themselves. That is how they know how to “win”. Victory at all cost, sacrifice for the greater good, and all that yadi-yada. All ways of saying “I will kill you to keep power in my hands.”

So yes, we should all be monitoring this situation very carefully, because it could set a very important precedent for Afica and the world.

Posted by Ptrizzle | Report as abusive

Its got nothing to do with land distribution or fears of recolonisation or some such misconstrued fantasy. Its about power and greed. And e Zimbabweans are tired of this tyranny

Posted by Ally | Report as abusive


Africa is not obsessed with Zimbabwe because there are far greater problems in Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo, etc.
Moreover, the problems of hunger, poverty, and AIDS are far more important than bad elections in Zimbabwe (which, sadly, is far more democratic than 60-70% of other African countries).
It is the Western media that is obsessed with Zimbabwe, and we all know it is because of land redistribution.
I bet most of you cannot name more than 5 African countries after Zimbabwe.

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive

Whatever the outcome of the power dynamics will be, economic stability in Zimbabwe remains hopeful but we await to see the content of that hope. People will monitor the pace of progress, the new leadership resulting from the talks will be watched closely. A political settlement is one thing, a corresponding economic revival is another which will depend not only on choosing the appropriate policies but on their implementation. The global economy is currently challenged so economic revival comes at a time when world economics is stagnating and oil prices are high etc. Zimbabwe must make an honest assessment of the challenges ahead and come up with a great plan to solve them. That means confidence building with all stakeholders to this challenge.

Posted by Dereck T | Report as abusive

And I bet you cannot name 5 countries in East Asia, Vincent

Hello, this is a blog post on Zimbabwe; not Ethiopia, Congo, Uganda, Chad, South Africa or Nigeria. Of course we’re talking about the changing situation of this country.

We are concerned about this because it can provide a model for the future, A model that future generations can look to. And you say Zimbabwe is “far more democractic”? Please show us the proof, because for the past 30 years, events on the ground show otherwise. Lynching, killing, terror and of course, forced voting.

Posted by Maurice | Report as abusive

Zimbabwe is important because the fates of all people are important. Robert Mugabe and his supporters–he’s not alone–have done terrible things to the country in order to hold onto power. They’ve decimated the economy, denied relief to suffering peoples, and fractured relationships with many other countries. Those chickens are coming home to roost, however, as the opposition gains strength as shown by the recent events in Parliament. While control of the country may not be transferred though a neat-and-clean Western-style election, it will happen as the people of Zimbabwe raise their voices and demand change.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

Posted by Dave Donelson | Report as abusive

Yes, it might look like things may be slowly shifting in Zimbabwe but Mugabe did vow that MDC would never lead, not as long as he was still alive. Things might happen here and there that might make it look like the pressure is on him but he just goes and does something to counter it and he is back in control again. I did however love the heckling he encountered when parliament opened. I do hope that the balance does shift soon and in such a way that there is nothing he can do to stop it. We have had enough, I have had enough. I am tired of living in a country where I do not feel at home and I want my family to grow up in Africa. There is no place better than home.

Posted by Living Zimbabwe | Report as abusive

Mugabe is a greedy, corrupt and a vile opportunist. A man who has been in power for over 20 years suddenly realises that the land had not been equally distributed. But lets not forget that he was great friends of the Tory party under Thatcher and he was a tyrant then but the difference was that he was doing their bidding. As far as i am concerned the balance is where it was and isn’t shifting at all, the MDC is not a credible opposition and people like Mbeki lack any kind of sincerity in solving this situation, treating Mugabe with kiddies gloves because he was involved in some pan-Africanism or Anti-apartheid is a lame and outdated excuse and must stop. People are starving and dying because of some selfish and self centered old man.

Posted by Nduka Tolefe | Report as abusive

[…] worldwide, these days for instance centered around  developments in Russia-Georgia, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, as well as others less mentioned in China, Mauritania or Mexico.  Even though most of the content […]

Posted by Delicious Governance: Not always an Oxymoron? | The Kaufmann Governance Post | Report as abusive

You are all obsessed with Zimbabwe because you are all so greedy that you will do anything not to give back the land you stole from Zimbabwes through rape, genocide, and aparttheid.

Yes, Zimbabwe has problems but there are many African countris that have worse problems. This blanket coverage of Zimbabwe is intended to serve your selfish interests. You do not care about Africans. Otherwise, you would not starve millions of black Africans with economic sanctions for the benefit of a few thousand whites.

There is nothing wrong with a blog about Zimbabwe (where about 100 people have died despite your lies of torture, terror). What is wrong is posting 100 blogs about Zimbabwe while saying nothing about Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo, etc where tens of thousands of people are dying.

There is near-genocide in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, US-backed Ethiopian troops are slaughtering Africans in Somalia, up to 5 million people have died in the Congo, tens of thousands have died in Alegeria. There are far more brural dictators in Libya, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Uganda, ets.

Why the disproportional focus on Zimbabwe? Why the blanket coverage of Zimbabwe on CNN, BBC, Reuters and no word about the Africans dying in greater numbers in other areas?

I know a lot of Zimbabweans are genuinely concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe, but I also see a greater number of greedy hypocrites pretending to love Zimbabwe because they cannot come to terms with the fact that the natives are taking their land back. That is the reason for these crocodile tears on scores of blogs about Zimbabwe.

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive