Independent Lens: Democrats

About This Episode


Following a bitter war of liberation, Robert Mugabe became president of Zimbabwe. Under his leadership, the country made educational and economic progress until he evolved into a more dictatorial leader as opponents were put down and civil rights restricted. In 1999, in light of rising demands for reform, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), rose up to challenge Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party. After a decade, the two parties formed a coalition government.

Two men were appointed to the bipartisan constitutional committee: Paul Mangwana and Douglas Mwonzora, opposites in politics and personality, but passionate and united in ambition. They must rise to the daunting challenge of creating a constitution to lead their nation to prosperity and freedom. Should they fail at securing maximum influence for their respective parties on the provisions in the new constitution, dire consequences loom for each.

Filmed over the course of three years with unprecedented access to the political rivals, Democrats offers a rare, first-hand account of a country’s first steps towards democracy. But with Mugabe increasingly stubborn about stepping down and both constitutional leaders facing death threats, will the nation move forward or erupt into chaos?