For more than 20 years, Beatrice Mtetwa has fought for freedom in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.
It’s a battle that has pitched the human rights lawyer against the aging leader and his state-wide apparatus of terror and intimidation.
Like the politicians, journalists and activists she often defends, Ms. Mtetwa has been the target of intimidation, beatings and now imprisonment.
On July 31st, Zimbabwe is due to hold its first presidential election in six years. It will be the first since the chaotic 2008 election and the first under the country's new constitution. In theory, voters should have a chance to remove their 89-year-old leader, Robert Mugabe, who was once a respected anti-colonial guerrilla who has devolved into a despot during his 33 years at the top of Zimbabwean politics.
South African President Jacob Zuma Wednesday began talks with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, amid growing pressure for the country to move toward new elections."The principals are meeting this morning," Patrick Chinamasa, the chief negotiator for Mugabe's ZANU-PF party told AFP.Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a unity government in February last year under stiff international pressure, aiming to end an economic freefall and curb deadly political violence after disputed presidential elections in 2008.
Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday said he had called off a boycott of power-sharing ties with President Robert Mugabe that had paralysed the fragile unity government for three weeks."We have suspended our disengagement in the government," Tsvangirai told reporters after talks at a regional summit to break the impasse in the Mozambican capital.
Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai called on Thursday for a "divorce" in the unity government, proposing elections under a roadmap by the Southern African Development Community."We have reached a moment where we are saying, let's agree that this is not working, it's dysfunctional," Tsvangirai told a news conference at his party's headquarters."Let's make arrangements to go for elections under a roadmap designed by SADC so that we have a clear, legitimate government."
President Robert Mugabe said Friday that Zimbabwe's unity government should dissolve within months, calling for elections next year despite stalled efforts at political reform.The 86-year-old leader, in power since independence in 1980, was forced into a power-sharing deal with his rival, current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in February last year.Their arrangement was strained from the start, but tensions between them have again ripped into the open with Tsvangirai struggling to assert his authority within the power-sharing regime.
President Robert Mugabe said Wednesday that he and his partners in Zimbabwe's unity government agreed that "sanctions must go", a day after the European Union extended its restrictions on the country."We are in agreement," Mugabe told reporters after a tourism conference in Harare. "We are all agreed that the sanctions must go."Mugabe and his erstwhile rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed a unity government nearly a year ago, aiming to end political unrest targeting mainly supporters of the premier's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Southern African leaders will try again Sunday to thrash out a plan to guide Zimbabwe toward elections, after a day of talks failed to settle the issue, a spokesman said.Mugabe, 87, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, but inconclusive elections three years ago forced him into a unity government with Morgan Tsvangirai, his main rival, who is now prime minister.Their uneasy alliance had been intended as a transitional government to oversee the drafting of a more democratic constitution.
Southern African leaders meet Saturday to lay out a plan to guide Zimbabwe toward elections, which could settle a debate that has provoked unusually public divisions within President Robert Mugabe's party.Mugabe, 87, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, but inconclusive elections three years ago forced him into a unity government with Morgan Tsvangirai, his main rival, who is now prime minister.
Zimbabwe's rival leaders met with the head of a regional security body Thursday, ahead of an emergency summit aimed at hauling a fragile power-sharing deal out of a three-week impasse.Mozambican leader Armando Guebuza held one-on-one talks with Zimbabwe's veteran President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader who joined a unity government in February.After their discussions, the summit was set to open with leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia.