Resurgent Authoritarianism: The Politics of the January 2019 Violence in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Political Context: February 2019
Introduction: The 2019 Protests

[The full pdf report can be downloaded here.]

Protestors, Harare, 14 January 2019 (Newsday)

Protestors, Harare, 14 January 2019 (Newsday)

Since the November 2017 military coup, Zimbabwean politics was once again plunged into a legitimacy crisis, a situation exacerbated by the contestations over the July 2018 Harmonised election results, and the violence that followed on 1 August. Notwithstanding the political and economic reformist language of international re-engagement of the Mnanagagwa regime since that moment, the shadow of Mugabe’s authoritarian nationalist politics continued to hover over the post- coup attempt at political renewal. With the economic crisis deepening throughout 2018, the already fragile livelihoods of the majority of Zimbabwean citizens became even more precarious. In late 2018, public sector workers including doctors, nurses and teachers went on strike over their depreciated salaries and working conditions in the face of rising inflation and the persistent monetary crisis in the country. Representing around 27.4 % of formal employment, the largest portion of formal employment in the country, the striking public sector workers presented a serious problem for the functioning of the state. Looking back to the 1990’s it was the public sector strike of 1996 that signalled the onset of the broader trade union challenge to the Government’s neo-liberal policies at a time when formal sector employment, though already on the decline, had a broader base.1 The public sector strikes of late 2018 with the attendant fiscal challenges, once again presented a serious...Read more

Wed, February 20 2019 » Human rights, Reports, Zimbabwe Review » Leave a comment

Zimbabwe: The 2018 Elections and their Aftermath

Introduction

Zimbabwe my-home-i-choose-peaceAfter the coup in November 2017, a central part of the coup leader’s strategy was to move beyond the shadow of the coup through an election process that was seen to be peaceful and credible. As the Presidential spokesperson explained it, for ED Mnangagwa and his team July 30 ‘was not about winning votes qua votes, but about securing re-­‐engagement and the myriad benefits flowing therefrom’.1 Thus this ‘open for business’ mantra was accompanied by selective electoral reforms. These included: The introduction of the BVR voting system; the ensuring of a more peaceful and tolerant electoral environment; and an invitation to a wide range of international observers including the EU, US, SADC, AU, and the Commonwealth to monitor and report on the election. As part of the narrative of international re-­‐engagement, national unity and reconciliation that marked his discourse since the coup, Mnangagwa also conducted a series of meetings with minority communities. In June, Chiwenga met with the Asian business community, and In July the Zanu PF President met with the representatives of the white community and invoked the language of reconciliation that Mugabe deployed in the immediate post 1980 period: We should cease to talk about who owns farms in terms of colour.

We should cease talking about that. A farmer-­‐black farmer, a white farmer-­‐is a Zimbabwean farmer. We should begin to develop a culture among our people to accept that we are one.2

The opposition, led by the largest party the MDC Alliance and its young leader Nelson Chamisa, made it clear from early on in its election campaign that there were serious problems in the election process that had not been dealt with. The problem areas included the partisan status of the Zimbabwe Election Commission, the late release of the voter’s role, lack of transparency around the printing of the ballot papers, and the lack of equal access to the public media. Moreover Chamisa stated throughout...Read more

Mon, October 1 2018 » 2018, Election violence, Elections, Reports, Uncategorized » Leave a comment

Old Beginnings – The political context of Zimbabwe and a report on Biometric Voter Registration (BVR): A National and Matabeleland Perspective

Poster of General Chiwenga being waved from a car

Political Context: 2017-­‐2018 Introduction: The Trigger of Factional Politics November 2017 witnessed tumultuous events in Zimbabwean politics. After […]

Published: Fri, February 23 2018

Hoping without Hope: Murambatsvina – Ten Years On

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2013 MDC-T campaign poster

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Published: Sun, October 6 2013

Perils and Pitfalls – Migrants and Deportation in South Africa

Relatives pray outside after visiting detainees inside Lindela Detention Centre, Krugersdorp, South Africa

In association with PASSOP This report brings to light the discrepancies between the legal requirements around deportation of […]

Published: Tue, June 5 2012

“Hard Times” Matabeleland: urban deindustrialization – and rural hunger

A pregnant woman stands in her empty kitchen, rural Gwanda, October 2011.

SPT Report Nationally, Zimbabwe is more food secure at the end of 2011 than it has been for […]

Published: Wed, November 2 2011

The Hard Road to Reform

Zimbabwe lawyers fail to gain access to their clients

Since the signing and initiation of the Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe in September 2008 and February 2009 […]

Published: Wed, April 13 2011

A Fractured Nation: Operation Murambatsvina – five years on

Killarney children - July 2010

In May 2005, the Zimbabwean government embarked on a massive, highly systematic programme of demolitions of all informal […]

Published: Fri, July 30 2010

What options for Zimbabwe?

Report Cover Photo: Authentic leader - billboard

There is a general consensus that the Global Political Agreement (GPA), signed in September 2008 and initiated in […]

Published: Wed, March 31 2010

Desperate lives, twilight worlds: how a million Zimbabweans live without official sanction or sanctuary in South Africa

Report Cover Photo: Blind Zimbabwean in the room he shares with other blind friends in Johannesburg

The largest mass movement of people into South Africa in its history is continuing into its seventh year, […]

Published: Wed, March 31 2010

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Zanu PF in Parliament as a minority for the first time in 28 years

The Global Political Agreement signed on 15th September 2008 was an uneasy compromise between the two MDCs and […]

Published: Tue, June 30 2009

Gone to Egoli: Economic survival strategies in Matabeleland

Report Cover Photo: Zimbabweans in Bulawayo board the “Omalayitsha” to Johannesburg, June 2009

There is not much likelihood that the formal economy in Zimbabwe will recover any time soon. It is […]

Published: Tue, June 30 2009

Desperately Seeking Sanity: What Prospects for a New Beginning in Zimbabwe?

A man in Gokwe sits in the ruins of his house destroyed by youth militia  and war vets in May 2008.

In its report on the March 29th 2008 Harmonised Election the Solidarity Peace Trust recorded the widespread state-led […]

Published: Tue, July 29 2008

Punishing Dissent, Silencing Citizens: The Zimbabwe Elections 2008

Report Cover Photo: In a brave act of defiance, posters of Morgan Tsvangirai hang on the wall of a hut burnt by ZANU PF supporters in Shamva, April 2008

The 2008 Harmonised Election in Zimbabwe was arguably the most historic of the post-independence elections, as for the […]

Published: Wed, May 21 2008

A Difficult Dialogue: Zimbabwe-South Africa economic relations since 2000

Report Cover Photo: Crowds mob South African-owned Makro and Jaggers and strip shelves bare in Harare during “Operation Slash Prices” in July 2007

Since the onset of the Zimbabwean crisis, the role of South Africa, as both a help and hindrance, […]

Published: Tue, October 23 2007

Destructive Engagement: Violence, mediation and politics in Zimbabwe

Report Cover photo: Nelson Chamisa

The violence of 11 March and the months following in Zimbabwe indicated increased levels of state repression against […]

Published: Tue, July 10 2007

A Criminal State: A Statement and a Brief Chronicle of Events in Zimbabwe, 18 February – 22 March

Criminal State

The Solidarity Peace Trust condemns the brutal assault on opposition forces and the arrests of more than 50 […]

Published: Sat, March 24 2007

Policing the State: An evaluation of 1,981 political arrests in Zimbabwe – 2000-2005

Report Cover Photo: Zimbabwe Republic Police

“Policing the State” highlights the growth of police brutality in Zimbabwe since 2000, which has coincided with the […]

Published: Thu, December 14 2006

“Meltdown”- Murambatsvina one year on

Report Cover Photo: Operation Murambatsvina

Between 1991 and 2003, urban poverty trebled in Zimbabwe. It was against this background of escalating economic collapse […]

Published: Wed, August 30 2006

Operation Taguta / Sisuthi: Command Agriculture in Zimbabwe; its impact on rural communities in Matabeleland

Report Cover Photo: Soldiers driving a tractor

Command agriculture has to be contextualised against a background of the collapse of agriculture since 2000, and of […]

Published: Sat, April 15 2006

“Crime of poverty”: Murambatsvina Part II

Report Cover Photo: Informal mining settlement in Matabeleland

The July UN report on the demolitions in Zimbabwe has become the definitive report on events between May […]

Published: Wed, October 19 2005

Discarding the Filth: Operation Murambatsvina (Interim Report)

Report Cover Photo: Still taken from the Solidarity Peace Trust video, “Discarding the Filth”

On 19 May 2005, the Government of Zimbabwe began an operation labelled “Operation Murambatsvina” (OM). While Government has […]

Published: Mon, June 27 2005

Out for the Count: Democracy in Zimbabwe

Report Cover Photo: Archbishop Pius Ncube listens to an 83 year-old woman reporting denial of access to food in Insiza District

Two teams of Church observers from South Africa entered Zimbabwe ahead of the Election 2005, to observe the […]

Published: Sun, May 15 2005

Subverting Justice: The Role of the Judiciary in Denying the Will of the Zimbabwean Electorate since 2000

Report Cover Photo: Victim of violence, Presidential election campaign, Mberengwa East, January 2002

Five years ago this June, parliamentary elections were held in Zimbabwe.  Both the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union […]

Published: Tue, March 15 2005

No War in Zimbabwe: An account of the exodus of a nation’s people

Report Cover Photo: Razor wire on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa

Zimbabweans are now the second biggest group of foreign Africans in South Africa. Yet there is little formal […]

Published: Mon, November 15 2004

“Disturbing the peace”: An overview of civilian arrests in Zimbabwe: February 2003 – January 2004

Report Cover Photo: Woman beaten by police during peaceful demonstration called by ZCTU on 18 November 2003: Bulawayo.

The last four years have seen a relentless clampdown on all those who are perceived as opposing the […]

Published: Thu, July 15 2004

“Playing with fire”: Personal accounts of human rights abuses

In association with The Zimbabwe Institute Zimbabwe is on the eve of an election year: the nation is […]

Published: Mon, March 15 2004

“The Suffering Church of Zimbabwe”: A summary of observations by ten South African Church leaders

Report Cover Photo: Procession with crosses to commemorate those who have died in political violence since 2000 in Zimbabwe: 29 June 2002, St Mary’s Cathedral, Bulawayo

The Solidarity Peace Trust has a Board consisting of church leaders of Southern Africa and is dedicated to […]

Published: Mon, December 15 2003

National youth service training – “shaping youths in a truly Zimbabwean manner”

Report Cover Photo: Cover of reference manual used since 2001 to train youth militia in Zimbabwean history

In the last two years, Zimbabwe has seen a new national youth service training programme moving rapidly from […]

Published: Fri, September 5 2003

Peaceful protest and police torture in the City of Bulawayo: 24 February to 25 March 2003

Report Cover Photo: The t-shirt that is alleged to have resulted in multiple=

Previous reports compiled by the same authors in conjunction with Physicians For Human Rights Denmark (PHR-DK), detailed cases […]

Published: Thu, April 17 2003

Vote ZANU-PF or Starve

This child, diagnosed as having kwashiorkor, is from an MDC supporting family that allegedly has been consistently denied access to food on political grounds.

In association with Physicians for Human Rights, Denmark The intention of this report, as with the two previous […]

Published: Wed, November 20 2002
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  • The Hard Road to Reform

    Zimbabwe lawyers fail to gain access to their clients The three COPAC chairmen share a joke Gwisai and five others are taken to court ZANU Youth in commandeered vehicles Skeletons exhumed in Matabeleland in the 1990s Mount Darwin exhumation, March 2011.
  • A Fractured Nation

    Artists in Ngozi Mine live in cardboard houses while they carve intriguing sculptures – here, a fish eagle, kudu, leopard and humans – all made out of melted plastic collected from the adjacent rubbish dumps A neighbour has turned a truck wreck into a house In Hopley Farm, Harare, 8,500 adults live in makeshift housing: out of 2,000 school age children, 75% are out of formal school.   [July 2010] PASSOP, an NGO supporting Zimbabweans in De Doorns, is banned from entering the IDP camp, and here holds a meeting with them through the fence! They deliver “the Zimbabwean” newspaper – news from home read avidly. [30 May 2010] Snow was already falling on the mountains at De Doorns in May 2010 – making life even more unpleasant for those living in tents. This Cape registered cross border transporter was seen at Beitbridge with this precarious load: in July 2010, Zimbabweans were sending their worldly possessions back home as a precaution against losing everything again in xenophobic attacks.