Zimbabwe is constitutionally a republic. The country elected Emmerson Mnangagwa president for a five-year term in the 2018 general elections. Despite incremental improvements from past elections, domestic and international observers noted serious concerns and called for further reforms to meet regional and international standards for democratic elections. Numerous factors contributed to a flawed election process in 2018, including: the Zimbabwe Election Commission’s lack of independence; heavily biased state media favoring the ruling party; voter intimidation; the unconstitutional influence of tribal leaders; failure to provide an electronic preliminary voters roll; politicization of food aid; security services’ excessive use of force; and lack of transparency concerning election results. Some of these factors reemerged in numerous by-elections during the year and in the early stages of the electoral process for the 2023 general elections. The ruling party leads the government with a supermajority in the National Assembly but not in the Senate.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police maintains internal security. Police and the Department of Immigration, both under the Ministry of Home Affairs, are primarily responsible for migration and border enforcement; a group of senior force commanders may direct police to respond to civil unrest. The Zimbabwe National Army and Air Force constitute the Zimbabwe Defense Forces and report to a commander who falls under the minister of defense. The military also has some domestic security responsibilities. The Central Intelligence Organization, under the Office of the President, engages in both internal and external security matters. Civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over security forces. There were reports that members of the police, military, and intelligence service committed numerous abuses throughout the country.