Politics of Zimbabwe

The politics of Zimbabwe takes place in a framework of a full presidential republic, whereby the President is the head of state and government as organized by the 2013 Constitution. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The status of Zimbabwean politics has been thrown into question by a 2017 coup.

Political developments since the Lancaster House AgreementEdit

The Zimbabwean Constitution, initially from the Lancaster House Agreement a few months before the 1980 elections, chaired by Lord Carrington, institutionalises majority rule and protection of minority rights. Since independence, the Constitution has been amended by the government to provide for:

  • The abolition of seats reserved for whites in the country's parliament in 1987;[1]
  • The abolition of the office of prime minister in 1987 and the creation of an executive presidency.[1] (The office was restored in 2009, and abolished again in 2013.)
  • The abolition of the Senate in 1990 (reintroduced in 2005), and the creation of appointed seats in the House of Assembly.[1]

The elected government controls senior appointments in the public service, including the military and police, and ensures that appointments at lower levels are made on an equitable basis by the independent Public Service Commission.

ZANU-PF leader Robert Mugabe, elected prime minister in 1980, revised the constitution in 1987 to make himself president. President Mugabe's affiliated party won every election from independence on April 18, 1980, until it lost the parliamentary elections in March 2008 to the Movement for Democratic Change. In some quarters corruption and rigging elections have been alleged. In particular the elections of 1990 were nationally and internationally condemned as being rigged, with the second-placed party, Edgar Tekere's Zimbabwe Unity Movement, winning only 20% of the vote. Presidential elections were held in 2002 amid allegations of vote-rigging, intimidation, and fraud, and again in March 2008.

Ethnic rivalry between the Shona and Ndebele has played a large part in Zimbabwe's politics, a consequence of the country's borders defined by its British colonial rulers. This continued after independence in 1980, during the Gukurahundi ethnic cleansing liberation wars in Matabeleland in the 1980s. This led to the political merger of Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) with the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) to form ZANU-PF and the appointment of Nkomo as vice president.

During 2005, with Mugabe's future in question, factionalism within the Shona has increased.[2] In October 2005 it was alleged that members of the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC had held secret meetings in London and Washington to discuss plans for a new Zimbabwe after Robert Mugabe.[3] On February 6, 2007, Mugabe orchestrated a Cabinet reshuffle, ousting ministers including 5-year veteran Minister of Finance Herbert Murerwa.

Political conditionsEdit

Since the defeat of the constitutional referendum in 2000, politics in Zimbabwe has been marked by a move from the norms of democratic governance, such as democratic elections, the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, freedom from racial discrimination, the existence of independent media, civil society and academia.[citation needed] Recent years have seen widespread violations of human rights.

Elections have been marked by political violence and intimidation, along with the politicisation of the judiciary, military, police force and public services.[4] Statements by the President and government politicians have referred to a state of war, or Chimurenga, against the opposition political parties, in particular the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T). Newspapers not aligned with the government have been closed down and members of the judiciary have been threatened and/or arrested. Repressive laws aimed at preventing freedoms of speech, assembly and association have been implemented and subjectively enforced. Members of the opposition are routinely arrested and harassed, with some subjected to torture or sentenced to jail. The legal system has come under increasing threat. The MDC has repeatedly attempted to use the legal system to challenge the ruling ZANU-PF, but the rulings, often in favour of the MDC, have not been taken into account by the police.[citation needed]

Government of ZimbabweEdit

Political power in Zimbabwe is split between three branches, the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches, with the President as the head of the executive branch, the Prime Minister the head of the legislative branch and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe the head of the judicial branch.


Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Emmerson Mnangagwa ZANU-PF 24 November 2017
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga & Kembo Mohadi ZANU-PF 28 December 2017

Under Zimbabwe's Constitution, the president is the head of state, government and commander-in-chief of the defence forces, elected by popular majority vote. Prior to 2013, the president was elected for a 6-year term with no term limits. The new constitution approved in the 2013 constitutional referendum limits the president to two 5-year terms, but this does not take effect retrospectively (Robert Mugabe had held the office from 1987 to 2017).

The Cabinet is appointed by the president and responsible to the House of Assembly.

The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs is a non-cabinet ministerial position in the government of Zimbabwe. The incumbent is Didymus Mutasa.[5] The duties of the position have yet to be publicly defined.


Parliament consists of the House of Assembly and, since 2005, the Senate, which had previously been abolished in 1990. The House of Assembly has 210 members elected by universal suffrage, including the Speaker, and the Attorney General, and may serve for a maximum of five years.[6] Under the 2013 constitution, the Senate consists of 80 members, of whom 60 are elected for five-year terms in 6-member constituencies representing one of the 10 provinces, elected based on the votes in the lower house election, using party-list proportional representation, distributed using the hare quota. Additionally the Senate consists of 2 seats for each non-metropolitan district of Zimbabwe elected by each provincial assembly of chiefs using SNTV,[7] 1 seat each for the president and deputy president of the National Council of Chiefs and 1 male and 1 female seat for people with disabilities elected on separate ballots using FPTP by an electoral college designated by the National Disability Board.[8][9]


The judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe who, like their contemporaries, is appointed by the President on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission. The Constitution has a Bill of Rights containing extensive protection of human rights. The Bill of Rights could not be amended for the first 10 years of independence except by unanimous vote of Parliament.

The Supreme Court is the highest court of order and the final court of appeal. The Chief Justice is the senior judge. Others who sit on the bench of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe are Justice Paddington Garwe, former Judge-President of the High Court, Wilson Sandura and Vernanda Ziyambi. Luke Malaba, a former justice of the Supreme Court, was appointed acting chief justice on 1 March 2017 following the retirement of Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku. Malaba was promoted to chief justice on 28 March.[10]

The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law with South African influences. A five-member Supreme Court, headed by the Chief-Justice has original jurisdiction over alleged violations of fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution and appellate jurisdiction over other matters. There is a High Court consisting of general and appellate divisions. Below the High Court are regional magistrate's courts with civil jurisdiction and magistrate's courts with both civil and criminal jurisdiction over cases involving traditional law and custom. Beginning in 1981, these courts were integrated into the national system.

List of Chief Justices:

Incumbent Tenure Notes
Took office Left office
Hector Norman MacDonald 1977 May 1980 Appointed by Ian Smith (Rhodesia under UDI)
Sir John Fieldsend [11] 1 July 1980 1983
Enoch Dumbutshena February 1984 1990
Anthony Gubbay 1990 2001
Godfrey Chidyausiku 2001 2017
Luke Malaba[10] 2017 present

Provincial governanceEdit

Main articles: Provinces of Zimbabwe, Districts of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is divided into eight provinces, each administered by a provincial governor appointed by the President. The provincial governor is assisted by the provincial administrator and representatives of several service ministries. The provinces are further divided into 63 districts.

Political parties and electionsEdit

Presidential electionsEdit

1991 Zimbabwean general election

House of Assembly electionsEdit

House of Assembly election results map.
  National Patriotic Front
Party Votes % Seats
Common Women Total +/–
ZANU–PF 2,477,708 52.35 144 35 179 –17
Movement for Democratic Change Alliance 1,624,875 34.33 64 24 88 +16
MDC–Tsvangirai (Khupe) 161,824 3.42 0 1 1 New
People's Rainbow Coalition 61,644 1.30 0 0 0 New
National Patriotic Front 49,103 1.04 1 0 1 New
Zimbabwe Partnership for Prosperity 26,515 0.56 0 0 0 New
Zimbabwe African People's Union 16,088 0.34 0 0 0 0
Zimbabwe Democratic Union 11,199 0.24 0 0 0 New
National Constitutional Assembly 9,736 0.21 0 0 0 New
Mthwakazi Republic Party 19,554 0.20 0 0 0 New
Build Zim Alliance 8,486 0.18 0 0 0 New
Coalition of Democrats 6,522 0.14 0 0 0 New
FreeZim Congress 4,303 0.09 0 0 0 0
United Democratic Alliance 3,599 0.08 0 0 0 New
Republican Party of Zimbabwe 3,264 0.07 0 0 0 New
Freedom Movement #1980 2,146 0.05 0 0 0 New
Alliance for the Peoples Agenda 2,111 0.04 0 0 0 New
United African National Council 1,889 0.04 0 0 0 New
The African Democrats 1,387 0.03 0 0 0 New
United Movement for Democracy 1,357 0.03 0 0 0 0
Alliance for National Salvation 1,204 0.03 0 0 0 New
Zimbabwe Rainbow Democratic Party 1,172 0.02 0 0 0 New
People's Progressive Party Zimbabwe 1,064 0.02 0 0 0 New
Freedom Justice Coalition Zimbabwe 773 0.02 0 0 0 New
United Democratic Front 611 0.01 0 0 0 New
PRZ 494 0.01 0 0 0 New
Zimbabwe Labour Party 464 0.01 0 0 0 New
Zimbabwe Patriotic Movement 402 0.01 0 0 0 New
Zim First 373 0.01 0 0 0 New
National Action Party 362 0.01 0 0 0 New
Rebuilding Zimbabwe Party 346 0.01 0 0 0 New
Maat – Zimbabwe 342 0.01 0 0 0 New
Zimbabwe People's Party: Good People's Movement 328 0.01 0 0 0 New
Democratic Official Party 323 0.01 0 0 0 New
United Democracy Movement 318 0.01 0 0 0 New
Forces of Liberation Organization of African National Party 303 0.01 0 0 0 New
Chief's Party 282 0.01 0 0 0 New
United Crusade for Achieving Democracy Green Party of Zimbabwe 224 0.00 0 0 0 New
Unity Party Zimbabwe 214 0.00 0 0 0 New
New Zimbabwe Republican Party 198 0.00 0 0 0 New
Federal Democrats of Zimbabwe 194 0.00 0 0 0 New
ERA 177 0.00 0 0 0 New
Democratic Alliance–United People's Party 147 0.00 0 0 0 New
Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe 144 0.00 0 0 0 New
United Christian Alliance 123 0.00 0 0 0 New
African People's Congress 70 0.00 0 0 0 New
Suffering Voices of Zimbabwe 66 0.00 0 0 0 New
Freedom Front 44 0.00 0 0 0 0
Independents 238,179 5.03 1 0 1 –1
Invalid/blank votes
Total 4,732,851 100 210 60 270 0
Registered voters/turnout
Source: ZEC

Senate electionsEdit

Party Seats +/–
ZANU–PF 34 –3
Movement for Democratic Change Alliance 25 +2
MDC–Tsvangirai (Khupe) 1 New
Chiefs 18
People with disabilities 2
Total 80 0
Source: ZBC

International organization participationEdit

Zimbabwe participates in the following Pan-African and international organisations:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Zimbabwe Moves to Limit Whites' Role : Legislation Prepared to End a Guarantee of Parliament Seats, Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1987.
  2. ^ [1] Archived copy at the Library of Congress (April 14, 2005).
  3. ^ "The end of Mugabe?". openDemocracy. 2005-10-13. Archived from the original on 2012-01-15. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
  4. ^ [2] Archived March 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "New Cabinet appointed". The Herald (Zimbabwe). 13 Feb 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-02-16. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
  6. ^ "Zimbabwe's Mugabe Finalizes Constitutional Amendment On Elections"[permanent dead link], Carole Gombakomba, VOA News, November 1, 2007.
  7. ^ "Part X, Section 44". ELECTORAL ACT (pdf). Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. p. 35. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  8. ^ "3, 4". Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) (PDF). pp. 52–54. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2014-09-10.
  9. ^ "Electoral Amendment Act 2014 [Act 6-2014]" (doc). Veritas Zimbabwe. pp. 52–55. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  10. ^ a b Zharare, Herbert; Kachere, Phyllis. "Malaba appointed Chief Justice | The Herald". www.herald.co.zw. Retrieved 1 April 2017.

External linksEdit