Officials in Africa, as they provide that military forces must only be used in exceptional
circumstances and only if absolutely necessary.”
His observations came on the backdrop of the shrinking of the country’s democratic space as
evidenced by the suppression of demonstrations and abductions of civic society activists and
other dissenting voices. In January 2019, an estimated 17 people were killed by security
personnel following nationwide protests against fuel price increases resulting in a four-day
Internet shutdown.
Inevitably, several journalists were caught in the crossfire of the government’s crackdowns
against constitutionally guaranteed rights to media freedom, freedom of expression, assembly
and association. In that regard, the operational environment and democratic space remained
volatile, uncertain and unpredictable.
Given the foregoing, Zimbabwe was thus back to the pre-Government of National Unity
(GNU) 2007-2008 status quo ante characterised by socio-economic political instability and
contested presidential election results, triggering incessant calls for political dialogue and
implementation of fundamental reforms.
This scenario, notwithstanding the temporary relief ushered by the GNU (2009 – 2013), was
back to haunt the country yet again despite President Mnangagwa’s pledges to usher socioeconomic and political stability hinged on strengthening Zimbabwe’s institutions of

❖ Political Context and Key Events
It is trite to note that the foregoing developments came in the wake of brutal clampdowns on
opposition MDC Alliance demonstrations, reported abductions and torture of human rights
activists and political players allegedly by the police and State actors.
These repressive actions were undoubtedly aimed at containing an increasingly restive
population squirming under worsening economic hardships and impoverishment
characterised by power outages of up to 20 hours, company closures, high unemployment,
shortages of foreign/local currency, fuel and water, endemic corruption and soaring prices of
basic commodities and services.


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