Zimbabwe goes to polls amid a deepening economic crisis with inflation into three figures and general gloom that the country’s history of disputed and violent elections will continue. Human rights groups say the same factors as before are in place – voter roll irregularities, public media bias, and the use of law enforcement and the courts to hamstring opposition campaigns.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former spy nicknamed ‘the crocodile’ who replaced Mugabe as president after a coup in 2017, has failed to get the economy back on track but points to infrastructure projects and Chinese investment as offering promises for the future.
The tragedy of Zimbabwe is profound having been turned from the bread basket of southern Africa into an economic basket case with nearly 3.8 million people going hungry this year. After independence in 1980 when Robert Mugabe took over he became increasingly authoritarian and during his time hyperinflation caused the national currency to be abolished, the country ran out of food and fuel, and a quarter of the population emigrated. In 2000 he repossessed land from white farm owners causing the economy to suffer a major collapse and financial aid from the IMF and World Bank dried up in the face of economic sanctions. He violently crushed the opposition, stole elections, let cronies plunder the country, and threw $800,000 birthday parties for himself while his people starved.
Zimbabwe became independent on 17 April 1980 at 10pm Harare after a civil war with an Aries Sun opposition a 10th house Pluto which was trine/sextile an 8th house Mars North Node in Leo. No surprises that Africa acquired yet another dictatorial form of governance. Despatch one bully and their successor is no better. The pressures on the Zimbabwe chart will continue with tr Pluto square the Sun this year and move into explosive territory with tr Uranus opposition Uranus and square the Mars in 2024.
Mnangagwa’s birth date was iffy though with a Virgo Sun conjunct the Zimbabwe Saturn. His Term chart, 24 November 2017 11.42am Harare, gave every indication of being a ruthless, control-freak and violent administration with an 8th house Mars opposition Uranus square Pluto.
His nearest contender Nelson Chimisa, 2 February 1976, is a friendly Sun Venus in Aquarius square Uranus and trine Pluto, sextile Neptune. He has a sprinkling of Jupiter but is in a trapped, frustrating year with tr Pluto opposition his Mars.
What intrigues me more than the present mess is Zimbabwe’s long history with human settlements there half a million years ago. Around the 10th Century trade developed with Arab merchants on the Indian Ocean coast leading to the flowering of the Shona civilisation that dominated during the 13th to 15th centuries, which built great fortresses whose ruins are still in evidence. They traded gold, ivory, and copper for cloth and glass. European explorers arrived, mainly Portuguese initially, which eventually began a series of wars which left the empire in near collapse in the early 17th century though the invaders were eventually repelled. By the late 19th century Cecil Rhodes and the Brits arrived, developed agriculture, stayed for 100 years and left.
With such a substantial history behind it Zimbabwe exhibits a fairly typical trajectory of rise and fall, empires and civilizations blossoming and then crumbling into the dust. Sometimes Pluto Returns can plot the gradual switchovers. Pluto was in Libra when this recent independence took place in 1980 which has undoubtedly coincided with a slump. There was one in the 10th Century as trade boomed and the following one in the 13th Century saw the start of the peak in terms of architecture, culture and wealth. Sometimes it is one Pluto Return and sometime two which alters the path upwards or downwards.