Zimbabwe Government and Politics

Following the 1980 Constitution, Zimbabwe is a unified state, presidential and one-party-dominated republic. The presidential position was originally constitutional, but has been executive since 1987. The president is the head of state and is elected in direct elections for six years; there are no re-election restrictions. He appoints and heads the government and is also military commander. Legislative authority has been added to the parliament, which from 2005 has two chambers. Assembly Hall (House of Assembly) has 150 members; 120 are elected in general elections, twelve are nominated by the president, while the other seats go to ten traditional chieftains and the eight provincial governors. The House has been sitting for six years and is now elected/nominated at the same time as the President. The restored Senate has 66 members; 50 elected in direct elections for five years, six nominated by the president and ten by the Board of Governors. The recent elections have been marked by overt electoral fraud to secure re-election for President Robert Mugabe and his party ZANU.

Zimbabwe Country Flag

A council of its own plays an advisory role. The chiefs are appointed by the president, but according to customary rules of succession.

Mugabe’s leadership style and the harassment of the opposition have led to economic disaster and international isolation. The disputed land redistribution program, launched in 2000, led to economic collapse, food shortages and emigration of many whites. Zimbabwe has a well-developed infrastructure, significant mineral resources and previously also relatively efficient agriculture. But the country has nevertheless stagnated since independence. Political unrest and abuse of power, ideology-driven reforms, drought, high population growth and serious health problems (AIDS) are major causes of stagnation.


Administratively, Zimbabwe is divided into eight provinces as well as two urban areas, led by governors appointed by the president. Locally, the board is taken care of by elected councils, led by mayors.


The judiciary is still characterized by Roman-Dutch law, but African customary law also plays a role. The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court, with a justice and four judges (appeals judges). Except in cases of fundamental rights, it is a pure appellate court. Nationally, there is also a High Court, comprising justice, the presiding judge and eleven other judges. Furthermore, there are regional courts and magistrate courts with both civil and criminal jurisdiction.

Zimbabwe’s defense

The total force figures for Zimbabwe’s armed forces are around 29,000 active personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, there are 21 800 semi-military police forces.


The army has a strength of about 25,000 active personnel. The equipment includes 40 tanks (30 type 59 and ten type 69), 115 light trucks, about two storm tanks, 30 armored personnel vehicles, and 12 self-propelled artillery. In addition, the Army has medium-heavy artillery and anti-aircraft artillery.

Air Force

The Air Force has a strength of 4,000 active personnel. The material includes nine fighters category F-7, two reconnaissance, 25 facilitate transport, 33 trainers (ten of which can also be used as light combat aircraft, and 13 can also be used as light attack aircraft), and 18 helicopters (which six combat helicopters of the type mi-35).

International operations

Zimbabwe participated in 2018 with observers and a small number of personnel in the UN operations in Sudan (UNAMID and UNISFA), and in South Sudan.

Presidents of Zimbabwe

Period President
1980-1987 Canaan Sodindo Banana
1987-2017 Robert Mugabe
2017- Emmerson Mnangagwa


The 2000 election was the first time a strong opposition was able to take a seat in parliament. A new party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was established in the fall of 1999, receiving 47 percent of the vote, against ZANU- PF’s 48.6 percent. The election result was a significant defeat for Mugabe, and ZANU-PF lost special support in the big cities and in Matabeleland. The strong support for the MDC showed dissatisfaction with ZANU’s authoritarian rule and was a threat to the ruling party, which responded with increasing repression. MDC leader, former leader of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Morgan Tsvangirai, was repeatedly arrested and charged with high treason, and a number of MDC members and supporters were arrested, beaten and killed.

Zimbabwe and President Mugabe have been increasingly criticizing human rights violations since the late 1990s, including the suppression of the media and irregularities in elections. Tsvangirai challenged Mugabe in the 2002 presidential election, gaining 42 percent of the vote, against Mugabe’s 56 percent. Opposition to the government party and the president also emerged when their proposal for a new constitution, put forward in a referendum in 2000, was rejected. The proposal strengthened the president’s powers and the opportunity to confiscate lands from white farmers for distribution without compensation.

Zimbabwe Head of Government

You may also like...