IRI Africa Director Testifies on the Prospects for Democracy in Zimbabwe
"Zimbabwe's recent election highlights how far that country is from being a free and open multi-party democracy. Having first visited Zimbabwe in 1991 and having been closely involved in the election cycles there for close to 15 years, I must acknowledge that the anti-democratic forces of Zimbabwe are continually growing more sophisticated," Krilla testified.
Later in his testimony, Krilla said, "Despite the laws limiting meetings and publicity, the opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change has not only survived, but grown, building a grassroots movement capable of bringing tens of thousands to its rallies, and of forcing the Zimbabwean government to recognize it as a significant political player on the landscape of Zimbabwe."
IRI began working in Zimbabwe in 1993, originally concentrating on strengthening political party structures. IRI's program quickly transitioned to supporting civil society organizations struggling to advance democracy amid a hostile political environment. Despite the passage of restrictive legislation that silenced journalists, censored political opposition and severely limited IRI's ability to operate as a non-governmental organization, IRI continues to monitor Zimbabwe's civic and election fronts from a distance. As food shortages, unwieldy inflation and a rapid rise in HIV/AIDS plague Zimbabwe, IRI remains committed to working with democratic forces to bring freedom to the country.