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January 1st, 2010
Underground Zimbabwe

For the first time since independence in 1980, President Robert Mugabe is no longer the sole leader of Zimbabwe. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday morning as part of a power-sharing agreement between the ruling party, Zanu-PF, and the opposition, MDC. Tsvangirai won the most recent elections, held in March 2008, but did not get the requisite 50 percent plus one vote. In the violent aftermath, Tsvangirai and his supporters were beaten by Mugabe’s security forces, and at least 180 people were killed. Fearing more violence, Tsvangirai pulled out of the scheduled June run-off, and, as the only candidate, Mugabe won. After months of political chaos, the two rivals finally agreed to the unity government that takes effect today.

Zimbabwe is suffering from hyperinflation, chronic food shortages, and a cholera epidemic that has infected almost 70,000 people and killed more than 3,000 since August. Education is in a disastrous state, with 94 percent of rural schools closed as teacher’s complain that their meager salaries don’t even cover the cost of the bus ride to work. Unemployment is estimated at 90 percent. Tsvangirai and his arch-rival Mugabe must now work together to confront the massive humanitarian and economic crisis facing their country.

Underground Zimbabwe
, a two-part FOCAL POINT feature, goes undercover with independent journalist and native Zimbabwean Robyn Kriel as she surreptitiously films what life has been like under President Robert Mugabe for activists, journalists, and the millions of Zimbabweans who go to great lengths to get food staples everyday.

In Zimbabwe’s Life Lines, Kriel examines Zimbabwe’s devastating food crisis. She meets with shop owners whose stores are empty and those who try to make a living from Zimbabwe’s thriving black market. In Demonstrating Under Dictatorship, Kriel follows the non-violent street protests of the 40,000 member strong activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).

  • Doreen

    Great footage and story. I was not aware of the problems facing Zimbabwe.

  • Che Kerouac

    Bravo Robyn!

    Let the revolution begin!

  • TakiTok

    When I was in the Victoria Fall area, three years ago, the only place to buy fuel was from PU trucks with a barrel and a hose. A car would be stolen the fuel removed, the car then abandoned. No grocery stores, only local markets, main source of protien was a small bag of Mopane Worms. One worm per person over boiled corn meal.
    Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of Africa, now this. The common people are still wonderful.

  • Ferdinand Manlio

    We were in Zimbabwe in Febuary 2009 and the condition are worse if that is possible. All the schools are closed and many of the teachers have left because thy weren’t paid. The people were stil upbeat about the brokered deal between Mugave and Tsvangirai, but as soon as we returned home Tavangirai’s wife was killed in an automobile crash and he was seriously injured. The crash was suspicious and I’m not sure how the people now feel. Hopefully things will improve.

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