After the death of Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, we republish an article from our archive. Writing in 2000 Peter Alexander describes the election that almost toppled Mugabe’s ZANU-PF (Vol. 27, No. 85). Arguably this was the pinnacle of Tsvangirai’s career. He rose to prominence in Zimbabwe as a grassroots trade union leader who went on to head the powerful union federation, the ZCTU, and eventually became Zimbabwe’s most prominent opposition politician.
In this fascinating account from 2000, Peter Alexander wrote about the first time since independence in 1980, that the country’s then president, Robert Mugabe, faced a serious opposition movement. In the elections, held in June 2000, the worker-backed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won 57 out of 120 elected seats, with Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) securing 62. The MDC’s success included all 27 contests in the three most populous urban areas (Harare, Bulawayo and Chitungwiza), and all the fully urbanised constituencies in the next six largest centres.
Alexander argued that there could be little doubt that, had the election been free and fair, the MDC would have won more constituencies than ZANU-PF in 2000. Since the party had only existed for 16 months, this was a remarkable achievement. The article concluded that in 2002, when Zimbabwe was due to hold its presidential election, the MDC’s leader would have been well placed to mount a victorious campaign. Tragically that did not happen; the MDC followed a different course.
Zimbabwean Workers, the MDC & the 2000 Election
By Peter Alexander
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