The fortunes of Zimbabwe have for almost three decades been tied to President Robert Mugabe the pro-independence campaigner who wrested control from a small white community and became the country’s first black leader.

Until the 2008 parliamentary elections Zimbabwe was effectively a one-party state ruled over by Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF. A power-sharing deal has raised hopes that Mr Mugabe might be prepared to relinquish some of his powers but in the meantime he presides over a nation whose economy is in tatters where poverty and unemployment are endemic and political strife and repression commonplace.