The latest government crackdown in Zimbabwe is not wholly surprising, but it is still shocking in its brutality. The people who took to the streets two weeks ago to protest against fuel prices and the rising cost of basic commodities have been beaten, arrested and raped. The state has also attacked anyone suspected of having the potential to protest, i.e. those living on the breadline, the only people desperate enough to risk it. The protests were sparked by the overnight doubling of fuel prices, but the anger and frustration have been building for months. When I visited Zimbabwe in December – I left on 11 January, just before the recent violence – people’s budgets were stretched to breaking point. There were twelve-hour queues at petrol stations. Friends asked me to bring them cooking oil for Christmas.
The result of the presidential election in Zimbabwe, held on 30 July, was announced after a brief period of turmoil, on 3 August. Victory went to the Zanu-PF incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa, with roughly 2.4 million votes. Nelson Chamisa, the candidate of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, got 2.1 million. The rapid shifts in the political landscape that we've witnessed since Robert Mugabe was removed last November felt exhilarating, but the outcome of the vote leaves big questions unresolved.