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


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

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