While people are coming to terms with the passing of long-term ruler Robert Mugabe, we look at the effect on violence and protests in Zimbabwe.

Violence and Protests in Zimbabwe After Ruler’s Passing

Country close-up: Zimbabwe on the Global Peace Index

Global Peace Index rank: 132 out of 163 countries

Change in rank: down 6 places

This week, the people of Zimbabwe are coming to terms with the passing of former long-term ruler Robert Mugabe.

Popular opinion on the leader’s legacy is divided, but Zimbabwe’s deteriorating status on the 2019 Global Peace Index (GPI) shows Mugabe left the country weak in his wake.

Zimbabwe’s overall score deteriorated by 5.3 per cent, falling six places to 132, on the 2019 GPI. This fall marks the fourth successive year of deterioration in its peacefulness.

The country deteriorated in all three GPI domains, most especially in the Ongoing Conflict domain.

Indicators such as political instability and violent demonstrations deteriorated in 2019, following widespread strikes and protests in Zimbabwe in response to the sharp rise in fuel prices.

Government’s response to protests in Zimbabwe

The government’s response was swift with many arrests and widespread reports of military violence against civilians. This was reflected in a worsening score for intensity of internal conflict.

Several leaders of the protests and roughly 600 participants were arrested, many of whom were released shortly afterwards. The violent crime score also deteriorated in the wake of the crisis.

Crime, most of it opportunistic, has long been an issue in Zimbabwe.

The GPI shows that crime levels have increased, reflecting the increase in economic challenges facing the country. The US State Department calculates that overall crime increased ten to 15 per cent across most sectors in 2016.

Terrorism is also on the rise

Terrorism has also increased, with the terrorism impact score deteriorating 33 per cent over the past year. Two people were killed and at least 47 injured in the June 2018 Bulawayo grenade attack targeting President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe has registered a slight improvement in the refugees and IDPs indicator, with now less than one per cent of the population displaced, down from nearly eight per cent in 2010.

The country also improved its score for nuclear and heavy weapons capabilities, offsetting some of the deterioration in the Militarisation domain from rising military expenditure as a percentage of GDP.