Under the Constitution, Zimbabwe is supposed
to be a democratic republic with multi-party systems,
but under President Robert Mugabe's long reign
(1980-2017), democracy was the exception.
After a turbulent political period, a new
constitution was adopted in 2013 (see Modern History).
This eliminated the Prime Ministerial post that existed
between 2009-2013. The president is now both head of
state and government. The president is elected for five
years in direct elections and cannot sit for more than
two terms in office.
Total population and chart of Zimbabwe for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The president appoints people to most senior
positions in politics, government and the judiciary,
including two vice presidents and the entire government.
However, with the new constitution, the president can no
longer veto bills or dissolve Parliament. In the future,
the president will also not have prosecutorial immunity
after his term of office.
Parliament consists of two chambers, both of which
are appointed for five years, at the same time as the
presidential election. By 2023, the National
Assembly will have 270 members. Of these, 210
are elected by majority vote in one-man elections. The
remaining 60, including 6 from each province, are
reserved for women and are added through a proportional
The Senate has 80 members, 60 of
whom are elected in general and proportional elections,
18 are reserved for traditional chieftains, and 2
represent people with disabilities.
Basic amendments can be made by a two-thirds majority
in the National Assembly.
Zimbabwe is divided into ten provinces. With the new
constitution, provincial assemblies have been set up
consisting of regional members of the national
parliament, as well as some who are appointed on the
basis of the results of the national elections.
Zimbabwe's African National Union-Patriotic
Front (Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front, Zanu-PF) has
dominated politics and government in Zimbabwe at all
levels since independence.
Zanu-PF was formed in 1963 and mainly seeks its voter
support in the countryside. The party was initially a
Marxist-Leninist party, but gradually became more
generally socialist. As the political crisis deepened
during the 2000s, Zanu-PF became radicalized. The then
President Robert Mugabe (1980–2017) talked more and more
about state mining and industries. The country's new
president Emmerson Mnangagwe has toned down that
rhetoric in an attempt to attract foreign capital to the
The only party that has ever been able to threaten
Zanu-PF's power monopoly is the Movement for
Democratic Change ( MDC). The
party was formed in 1999 when opposition lawyers,
leaders of church communities, human rights activists
and trade union activists could be united in
dissatisfaction with political mismanagement and an
economy in free fall. MDC is strongest in cities and in
Matabeleland in the south. The 2000 parliamentary
election was a success for MDC, but then the regime's
harassment against the party, its leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and supporters led the MDC to have difficulty
holding meetings, spreading its message and organizing
demonstrations. In 2005, internal contradictions led to
the party being divided into two factions. One was led
by Tsvangirai and is commonly called MDC-T.
The other went first under the designation MDC-M
after former leader Arthur Mutambara and then sometimes
as MDC-N after Welshman Ncube who
became party leader in 2011.
The March 2008 parliamentary elections marked a
historic victory for the opposition and the two MDC
factions pledged to cooperate. However, they continued
to act as two groups. In 2014, contradictions within MDC-T
were sharpened. Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti
broke out and formed a new party of MDC Renewal
(MDC Renewal) which in turn split the following year.
Ahead of the 2018 presidential election, Tsvangiari,
Welshman Ncub and Tendai Biti reunited and formed the
MDC Alliance alliance together with
some smaller parties.
In early 2016 founded the party Zimbabwean
people first (Zimbabwe People First,
ZPF) of the former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
She was previously a loyal associate of President Mugabe
but was excluded from Zanu-PF in the spring of 2015
after coming into conflict with the president. The base
in Mujuru's party was made up of other defunct or
excluded members of Zanu-PF, but politicians from Biti's
party also joined. After seven people who were excluded
from the ZPF claimed the right to the party name, Mujuru
in 2017 renamed the party to the National
People's Party ( NPP).
The smaller ZPF joined the MDC Alliance when it was
formed in August 2017, but NPP chose to stand outside.
However, Mujuru refrained from running for the 2018
presidential election and instead stood behind the MDC
The judiciary and human rights
The judiciary is rooted in the British system, in
combination with local courts that follow traditional
customary law. These lower courts are headed by chiefs
whose verdict can be appealed to another lower court.
Until 2002, the judiciary was relatively independent and
the Supreme Court often made decisions that went against
the regime. However, that year the Supreme Court's
entire judiciary was replaced with more government-loyal
judges. With the new constitution, a constitutional
court was established.
The rule of law has serious shortcomings. Security
laws give the regime great opportunities to control the
opposition. The police have the right to directly shoot
anyone who refuses to obey orders during strikes and
demonstrations. Arbitrary arrests at demonstrations and
elections are common. The conditions in overcrowded
detention centers and prisons are described as awful.
The testimonies of abuse and torture are numerous.
Malnutrition and lack of hygiene in prisons require many
lives. According to reports from human rights
organizations, more than 100 prisoners of malnutrition
died in 2013 alone.
Respect for human rights was severely eroded during
the presidency of former President Robert Mugabe. Most
vulnerable were abusive supporters of the largest
opposition MDC, human rights activists, church
representatives and independent media. Few of the
perpetrators were punished for their crimes.
Misunderstandings continued after the 2017 power shift
when Mugabe was deposed and Emmerson Mnangagwa, one of
Mugabe's former arms brothers, took over as president.
In recent years, government critics have been arrested
while the opposition and trade unions have been barred
from demonstrating. On two occasions, security forces
have sharply shot and killed civilians in connection
with protests and demonstrations.
The death penalty occurs in Zimbabwe, even with the
new constitution. The latest execution took place in
2005. Ten years later, 95 people were sentenced to death
in the country's prisons.