Zimbabwe’s Politics of Despair

Brian Raftopoulos, Director of Research and Advocacy, Solidarity Peace Trust.

Introduction

In an insightful commentary on the current state of Zimbabwe politics, Joost Fontein writes about the prevalence of despondency in which a ‘new timescale of hope and aspiration’ has emerged ‘that makes both the present and any immediate future appear equally uninspiring.’1 In many ways this resignation to the politics of the long haul reflects the loss of hope in an imminent alternative, which was the structure of feeling that fuelled the social imagination of opposition and civic politics from the late 1990’s until the complexities and complicities of the Global Political Agreement. Underlying this politics of despair are a plethora of factors, ranging from the re-organisation of Zanu PF and its political machinery of patronage, coercion and electoral chicanery, to the massive dissipation of opposition energies in the context of  large-scale changes in Zimbabwe social structure since the 1990’s.  The recent implosion in Zanu PF around the politics of succession have, moreover, provided further evidence of the pervasive mood of despair in Zimbabwe’s polity, even against the background of the ruling party’s purported victory and resurgence in the 2013 election. (Read more…)

Tue, March 24 2015 » Zimbabwe Review » Leave a comment

Zimbabwean Politics in the Post 2013 Elections Period: The Constraints of ‘Victory’

Robert Mugabe Inaugurated as President for the 7th time

Robert Mugabe Inaugurated as President for the 7th time

Introduction

Zanu PF’s and Mugabe’s overwhelming electoral ‘victory’ in July 2013 was the result of a combination of the continuing legacy of firmly inscribed memories of post-colonial violence, Zanu PF’s persistent legitimacy from the liberation struggle, the declining fortunes of the opposition MDCs, the combination of coercion and patronage by the ruling party in context of a reconstructed political economy, regional solidarity for the ‘party of liberation, and the limits of international pressure on the Zimbabwean crisis.1

In the aftermath of this ‘victory’ Zanu PF has had to confront the challenges of presiding over a radically transformed political economy which, while it contributed to electoral success, now poses huge problems for economic progress. While the combination of a radical land programme, deindustrialisation and a rapidly informalised urban sector, and a strong reliance on the mineral sector, reconfigured the social basis of the electorate in Zanu PF’s favour, it also presents major challenges for economic growth in the post-election period. The central economic challenges confronting Zanu PF include: an external debt amounting to US$6 billion; liquidity constraints resulting in deflationary demand trends; limited inflow of foreign direct investment; lack of industrial competitiveness which is also affected by low domestic demand; loss of confidence in an increasingly vulnerable financial sector; lack of transparency and accountability in the key mineral sector; and a widening current account deficit due to the faster growth of imports.2 (Read more…)

Fri, June 27 2014 » 2013, Elections » 1 Comment

Re-engagement, renewal, and the death of Zimbabwe’s Real(e)st National Democrat.

Wilfred Mhanda

Wilfred Mhanda

By way of an obituary for Wilfred Mhanda (aka Dzinashe “Dzino” Machingura): May 26 1950 – May 28 2014

By David Moore, University of Johannesburg 

Zimbabwe’s Ides of April foretold the death of the Movement for Democratic Change as we know it. Morgan Tsvangirai dismissed the author of a letter from within the leadership circles asking him to consider leaving the torch for others. This instigated a late April effort, seemingly led by the fiery MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti, to dismiss the erstwhile champion of change. Tsvangirai, worn with nearly fifteen years of defeat whilst perhaps also sated by the good life, tried in turn to dismiss the cabal. Too much change for him. His heavy handed response will lead to a new party being formed. A week or so later he was in and out of clinics suffering nervous strain. The result: either more fragmentation than ever or renewal breathed broadly into the democratic forces, A détente between the eternal enemies in the Zimbabwean polity, posing within rough camps of ‘intellectuals’ and ‘populists’, could emerge in a new congress of democrats, but there is an equal chance that the gap will widen. Violence between them has already emerged, as in 2005 when the MDC split into a debilitating divide, and indeed when the ‘eggheads’ who would eventually lead Zimbabwe’s current party-state broke off from the folks one of their éminences grise labelled ‘non-working spivs, who had made thuggery and intimidation the law in the African townships’ led by Joshua Nkomo, who despised ‘intellectuals’ ever since. (Read more…)

Fri, June 6 2014 » Zimbabwe Review » 1 Comment

The Sanctions Debate on Zimbabwe

Solidarity Peace trust LogoBy Brian Raftopoulos In the early 2000’s a series of ‘targeted measures’ were introduced by the EU, US, and later Australia, New Zealand and Canada, against the movement and assets of particular individuals in the Mugabe regime. The measures were introduced as a response to serious electoral irregularities and human rights abuses in the Parliamentary and Presidential elections in 2000 and 2002 respectively. It was also clear that these interventions were a response to the state-led land acquisition process that unfolded for much of the 2000’s, which radically transformed the property ownership structure on the land in favour of small scale farming. (Read more…)

Fri, April 11 2014 » Zimbabwe Review » 1 Comment

Paul Chizuze : Disappeared 8 February 2012

Paul Chizuze

Paul Chizuze

This week marks two years since the disappearance, under suspicious circumstances of fellow human rights activist and stalwart campaigner for peace and justice in Zimbabwe, Mr Paul Chizuze.

We remember with gratitude the values you stood for, the decades you committed to the pursuit of democracy, peace and justice in your country.

We are still looking for you, alive or dead. We continue to search for the truth about the events that led to your disappearance. (Read more…)

Fri, February 7 2014 » Human rights » Leave a comment