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).