March 1992 Parliament approves the Land Acquisition Act, which allows the state to seize white-owned farms while offering little compensation and allowing no appeal. Lacking any transparency whatsoever, the system is soon rife with accusations of cronyism and is declared a failure.
April 1995 In parliamentary elections, President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union/Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) wins 118 of 120 seats, while a ZANU offshoot wins the remaining two seats. One independent candidate, former ZANU-PF member Margaret Dongo, subsequently wins a follow-up election in November 1995, becoming the third opposition member of Parliament.
March 1996 Robert Mugabe wins an uncontested presidential election. His two opponents withdraw a week before the election, one is subsequently jailed. The official turnout is the lowest since independence in 1980, which brought Mugabe into power.
March 1997 The War Victims Compensation Fund is suspended pending an investigation that high-level government officials and their relatives looted more than 112 billion Zimbabwe dollars (US$450 million). Violent demonstrations and riots by veterans of Zimbabwe's civil war, a key constituency of the president and his ZANU-PF party, prompts Mugabe to pay out more than 501 billion dollars (US$2 billion) in unbudgeted funds to placate the veterans. In December, Secretary General Morgan Tsvangirai leads a massive general strike by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to protest a package of new taxes designed to pay the war veterans. The struggling economy collapses soon thereafter.
July 1997 The Sunday Independent discovers that Zimbabwe sold weapons, supplies, and soldiers to support new leader Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). The paper estimates that Mugabe had authorized the sale of nine billion dollars (US$38 million) in weapons to Kabila's forces, and that Zimbabwe had transferred 50 billion dollars (US$200 million) in goods and material to Kabila. Additional contracts between Kabila and state-owned Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) arrange to supply the Congolese army with hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars' worth of food and military gear.
August 1998 Mugabe begins sending one-third of the army—approximately 11,000 troops—into neighboring Congo. The war proves to be unpopular with most Zimbabweans. Casualties mount, Mugabe's cronies become rich from diamonds and other resources and war veterans complain about the level of their compensation.
June 1999 Mugabe appoints a highly partisan commission dominated by his own ZANU-PF party to draw up a new constitution to replace the one drafted in December 1979. Mugabe adds to the commission's draft a section mandating that farmers should be compensated by the "former colonial power" for land acquired as part of the proposed land resettlement program.
September 1999 The opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) forms from a broad coalition of trade unions, civil society groups and professional groups. The MDC is the first viable opposition group to emerge in Zimbabwe since independence.
February 2000 Squatters and ZANU-PF war veterans seize hundreds of white-owned farms. During a non-binding national referendum, voters defeat Mugabe's draft of a new constitution, which entrenched his personal power, allowed him to dissolve Parliament at will and permitted governmental seizure of white-owned land without compensation. Mugabe announces on state-run TV that he will respect the will of the people.
April 2000 Mugabe forces a constitutional amendment through Parliament that places an obligation on the United Kingdom as the former colonial power rather than the state of Zimbabwe to compensate citizens evicted in the resettlement program. The U.K. immediately rejects the law as unenforceable. At the time, two-thirds of the 4,000 white-owned farms had been purchased after independence and were not colonial holdovers.
June 2000 In parliamentary elections, Mugabe's ZANU-PF narrowly defeats the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, but loses the power to change the Constitution. At least 37 people die during rioting and election violence, the majority of them opposition members. The MDC alleges vote-rigging and systematic pre-election violence in 37 districts, filing several successful legal challenges. About 400 international observers witness the election and conclude that the ZANU-PF is responsible for most of the pre-election violence.
July 2000 The government launches its "fast track" resettlement program of land reform, with the goal of resettling 162,000 families on some 5 million hectares of white-owned farmland within four years. Soon, 1,250 commercial farms are occupied by ZANU-PF party members, war veterans, and other squatters who used the government's hands-off attitude to build houses on private land. The program benefits Mugabe's ministers and officials rather than the landless poor, and leads to such disastrous consequences as food shortages and nationwide famine.
October 2000 Mugabe issues a presidential decree granting amnesty to all politically motivated crimes committed between January 1 and July 31, 2000, leading to the release of people imprisoned in the campaign of violence leading up to the 2000 election.
March 2001 Supreme Court Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay is forced to retire after repeated government threats, including direct, personal threats allegedly made by Joseph Chinotimba, an outspoken war veteran and associate of Mugabe. A longtime friend and former cabinet member of Mugabe is sworn in as the new chief justice. The following month, the International Bar Association publishes a report criticizing the government for its campaign of intimidation against the judiciary, notably the forced resignation of the chief justice, and for its refusal to enforce court orders mandating that squatters leave the farms they have occupied.
November 2001 The government amends the Land Acquisition Act to allow it to immediately confiscate land without offering the owners any right to contest the seizures.
January 2002 The government cracks down on civil liberties through two draconian new measures: The Public Order and Security Act effectively eliminates freedom of expression and creates barriers to organizing an opposition. The vaguely written law imposes severe penalties on anyone suspected of plotting against the government or making prejudicial statements against the government.
The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act targets independent media by requiring licenses from domestic journalists while restricting press accreditation to foreign journalists. The law criminalizes defamation of the president and prohibits coverage of certain government functions, such as the results of cabinet meetings. Though some of the act is declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in May, the law is in full force during the election campaign.
March 2002 Mugabe wins an election that international observers declare unfair and leads to the Commonwealth suspending Zimbabwe from its Councils. Thirty members of the opposition are killed and several report torture and other violence committed against them in the months leading up to the election. Operatives of ZANU-PF engage in systematic violence, vote manipulation and media harassment.
May 2002 Private TV station Joy TV loses its lease, effectively shutting down the only station critical of Mugabe.
October 2002 The U.N. World Food Programme suspends distribution of emergency aid to southwestern Zimbabwe after tons of food had been diverted to Mugabe supporters. The following year, Human Rights Watch releases a report accusing the government agency charged with food distribution—the Grain Marketing Board—with refusing to sell food to anyone not a member of ZANU-PF.
October 2002 The U.N. Expert Panel on Congo presents a final report chronicling systematic looting and exploitation of the country by foreign governments, including Zimbabwe, whose senior military leadership was reportedly enriching itself during the conflict.
November 2002 Agriculture Minister Joseph Made announces an end to confiscation of white-owned property.
February 2003 The treason trial of Morgan Tsvangirai begins. The star witness, Ari Ben Manashe, a Canadian consultant and former Israeli spy, admits that he received 50 million dollars (US$200,000) from the government after providing the secretly recorded tape purporting to show that Tsvangirai was involved in a plot to assassinate Mugabe. Tsvangirai is acquitted in October 2004.
March 2003 A general strike organized by the MDC is met with numerous beatings and over 400 arrests by government forces. The government subsequently cracks down on those it suspects of leading the strike and arrests five members of Parliament.
June 2003 Morgan Tsvangirai is arrested twice and held in police custody during a week of protests. He is again charged with treason, but the government drops the case in August 2005.
September 2003 The government denies a license to the independent newspaper, the Daily News, effectively shutting down the last media entity critical of the government. In January 2004, a court order allows the newspaper to resume publishing.
December 2003 Zimbabwe announces plans to quit the Commonwealth after its 18-month suspension is extended for another two years.
February 2004 Businessman and high-ranking ZANU-PF official James Makamba is arrested and charged with illegally dealing in foreign currency. He is acquitted six months later, but in August 2005 the Supreme Court reverses the acquittal and orders the trial to continue.
February 2004 Mugabe establishes an anti-corruption ministry in his cabinet.
April 2004 Ex-Finance Minister Christopher Kuruneri is arrested on charges of illegally exporting foreign currency for the purpose of building a luxury home in South Africa. He is also charged with holding a Canadian passport in violation of Zimbabwe's citizenship laws.
June 2004 Parliament passes the Anti-Corruption Commission Bill, which establishes an anti-corruption commission with powers to investigate cases of economic crime.
July 2004 Parliament passes the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill, which allows authorities to hold suspects arrested on charges of corruption or violating security laws for up to three weeks before they are brought to court.
March 2005 ZANU-PF wins more than two-thirds of the votes in parliamentary elections. The victory enables Mugabe to change the constitution to re-establish a Senate, an upper legislative chamber that had been abolished in 1987.
May - July 2005 The government razes tens of thousands of shanty dwellings and street stalls as part of an urban slum demolition drive that the leaves an estimated 700,000 people homeless.
June 2005 The government allocates eight billion dollars (US$30 million) for a new anti-corruption program run by the country's secret service.
November 2005 ZANU-PF wins an overwhelming majority of seats in the new Senate.
November 2005 Police arrest the top leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in an effort to suppress protests against worsening economic conditions.
July 2006 Police arrest deputy information minister Bright Matonga for allegedly participating in a bribery scheme at the state-run bus company, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO), which Matonga headed before entering the government. Matonga is being charged with ZUPCO chairperson Charles Nherera, who is convicted in August in another bribery case.
September 2007 The BBC reports, "Zimbabwe's parliament has passed a compromise bill on constitutional change that will allow presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008. Members of parliament from both the ruling Zanu-PF and the fractured opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supported the bill."
March 2008 As a result of parliamentary elections, Zanu-PF loses its majority in parliament for the first time in 28 years, winning 97 out of 210 seats, as opposed to the MDC's 99 seats.
Zimbabweans vote in the presidential election on March 29. The Daily Nation reports, "Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has claimed victory in presidential elections based on preliminary results from the majority of provinces. The results were posted at polling stations as soon as counting is done. The party says it is leading the presidential race with 67 per cent of the votes.But, the election commission denied the MDC claims saying that it would announce results later today."
April 2008 According to an ICG report, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) briefs President Robert Mugabe privately on April 1 that he has lost the presidential vote outright. Stunned, Mugabe and his lieutenants order the results to be withheld to give Zanu PF and the military time to decide what to do.
May 2008 The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says Morgan Tsvangirai won 47.9 percent of the vote, with Mugabe winning 43.2 percent. Under Zimbabwe law, if no candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote, a runoff is required. According to CNN, MDC denounces the presidential election results as "illegal" and saying that Tsvangirai won outright and no runoff is necessary. Furthermore, according to state-run media reports, Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party contests the results in 53 of the 210 constituencies, while the MDC contests in 52 constituencies.
The MDC, human rights groups, and western countries accuse the ruling ZANU-PF party of resorting to violence to frighten voters. According to farmers' groups, ZANU-PF armed militias have pushed 40,000 workers off farms in a campaign targeting supporters of the opposition ahead of a possible presidential runoff. Zimbabwe's government rejects accusations and claims the MDC has carried out attacks.
June 2008 Morgan Tsvangirai drops out of the presidential runoff held on June 27 because of violence and arrests targeting his party and its supporters. According to Tsvangirai, since the March 29 elections, ZANU-PF forces (government and militia) have killed 70 MDC supporters, displaced 200,000 Zimbabweans inside the country and destroyed 25,000 homes. Tsvangirai himself is picked up by the police and MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti is been jailed on a charge of treason, which can be punishable by death.
ZEC releases the final official results of the runoff presidential election showing President Robert Mugabe winning 85.51 percent of the vote, securing a sixth 5-year term. Morgan Tsvangirai wins only 9.3 percent of the vote. Mugabe is sworn in on Sunday, June 29.