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

In its electoral campaign Zanu PF, as in 2008, constructed its messaging around a combination of liberation history, anti-Western rhetoric, particularly relating to the sanctions issue and support for the opposition MDCs, and a strong empowerment message around its Indigenisation policy: Indigenise, Empower, Develop and Create Employment. In the aftermath of the 2013 elections Zanu PF has attempted to translate this vision into policy through the linkage of its strategic document the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), to a more moderate language on indigenisation and persistent, though mixed, messages around its desire to re-engage Western countries in a more normalised structure of relations.

This strategy has presented Zanu PF with very serious dilemmas. Having embarked on a major transformation of land relations in the 2000’s, in the face of serious political opposition and major developmental challenges the Mugabe Government faced this deep and organic crisis by restructuring the state and the discursive structures within which it presented the new lived realities of the period.3 This process of attempting to build a new historic bloc  within the transformed social relations, combined not only the promise of an alternative political and social settlement, but also had as a central part of its modus vivendi the lethal and pervasive use of violence and coercion.4 Moreover in establishing its dominance Zanu PF has also bludgeoned, neutralised and incorporated the organised forces of opposition. In these ways Mugabe and his party have remained the directive force in Zimbabwe, even if their hegemony has been contested throughout the post-colonial period.5

As it seeks a passage out of the major economic impasse it confronts, there has been a softening of Zanu PF’s radical nationalist language of the pre-election period. Ranka Primorac has perceptively observed that in Zimbabwe’s master fiction, “the moment of arrival of the longed-for future- the augmented and final ‘real’ decolonisation- is constantly anticipated, yet always deferred.’6 This insight is once again true of the current conjuncture which is characterised by an assemblage of messages which include both a thinly veiled plea for a fuller re-engagement with international foes, and the desperate hold on an always deferred point arrival of real decolonisation. There have been other moments since 1980 when the ruling party has shifted its discursive frame and modified its nationalist proselytism. The politics of Reconciliation was followed by the homilies of liberalisation in the 1990’s, which in turn gave rise to patriotic dictates of the 2000’s.

However the current phase presents a more complex terrain on which Zanu PF attempts to set out the rationale for its political project. While on the one hand it purportedly received a huge mandate in the 2013 elections on the basis of a nationalist empowerment agenda, on the other hand it can only carry out its ambitious indigenisation programme on the basis of massive foreign funding. In order to begin to recast itself as a self-reforming political agent the party has embarked on a heated internal discussion around state and party corruption, as one way of extending a hand for assistance from Western donors. The ongoing battle for succession for a post Mugabe Zanu PF has ensured that such debates are tied to the party’s succession battle and therefore the sustainability of this reform message remains extremely fragile. As another part of this complex mosaic unfolds the economic language of Zanu PF and the MDCs appear to have moved closer together towards a greater consensus on the need for some form of economic ‘stabilisation’, the parameters of which are still unclear, but are being contested   within a narrowing agenda of development alternatives. As Alexander and McGregor correctly observe these processes are neither about a return to the professionalised bureaucratic state of the 1980’s, nor the neoliberalism of the 1990’s. However they are also not simply a return to the state violence of the first decade of the 2000’s.7 The recent policy interventions are more akin to a hybrid mix of attempts to move beyond the crisis management of much of the 2000’s, while ensuring complete control of the party state and the politico-economic networks that have developed in the crisis period.  Moreover this has taken place in the face of an opposition that has been greatly weakened and once again embarked on a destructive division within its ranks.

Thus even as Zanu PF struggles to confront the gargantuan challenges of the post-election period, it does so in the face of a largely debilitated opposition. The opposition in turn have also sort to further distance themselves from their former Western support base and find some traction in the language of ‘patriotic history,’ even as Zanu PF seeks a rapprochement with the West. This coil of tangled and overlapping political interventions has given rise to a situation in which the ‘distribution of the sensible’ appears to be moving towards a broader re-engagement with the West, albeit one with persistent protests and policy messaging against it from within the ruling party.

Zanu PF: Confronting the Realities of Electoral Victory

The euphoria of Zanu PF’s election victory in 2013 was short lived and subdued. The beginning of 2014 witnessed the launching of a revealing debate on corruption in the party-state from within Zanu PF, by the party’s controversial Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Jonathan Moyo. This was not the first time the problem of corruption had been raised within Zanu PF, as the war veterans had raised the issue in the 1990’s. However in what became known as the ‘salarygate’ scandal Moyo confirmed media reports that outrageous salaries were being paid to heads of certain parastatal bodies. As examples Moyo noted the Chief Executive of the Public Service Medical Aid Society, who drew a salary of US$230,000 per month, while middle managers in the organisation were earning between US$15,000 and US$30,000 per month. Moyo’s attacks followed his suspension of the Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in 2013 for earning a monthly salary of over US$40,000 while employees of the organisation had gone for six months without pay. Another example of these salary levels soon followed in the City of Harare where the Town Clerk earned US$37,642. Moyo railed against the ‘false, corrupt salaries’ in the public sector, and declared that: “We have got to see the new thinking and the politics that inform the new economy, that is not being afraid of doing and saying the right things.”9 The State run Herald newspaper, now led by one of a group a new editors appointed by Moyo, wrote an editorial condemning this ‘deplorable state of affairs’, asking why arrests were not yet made, and stating that:

Put plainly, most of these parastatal heads and their minsters have failed in their fiduciary duty and have no moral or ethical reason to remain in their posts a day longer.10

It very soon became clear that this debate was not only about attempting to show a new face to the world, but perhaps more importantly, about the succession battles within Zanu PF. At a Provincial Women’s Conference in February 2014, Deputy President Joice Mujuru, viewing Moyo as the mouthpiece of the Mnangagwa faction in the party, warned her audience to ‘be careful’ about reports on corruption in the parastatals, as this was ‘another tactic being used by those keen to destroy the country.’11  Mugabe who, throughout his tenure as head of Zanu PF, has fuelled the politics of ethnic balance in Zanu PF, and ensured the provincialisation of potential contenders to his leadership, pontificated to his party members:

But it’s terrible, even to have your name mentioned as leader of a faction. It’s shameful. You must go beyond that and say you belong to the people as a whole……You see the danger there is? There, we are having to fight this apparently without very much of success because people want to be seen first and foremost as regional leaders and not as national leaders…..That is what we are fighting against and I am going to fight against this one quite blatantly because that is what is destroying the party.12

At the funeral of National Hero and former Minister of Information Mugabe launched an even more vitriolic attack on factionalism in his party, and more specifically, branded Jonathan Moyo as ‘the devil incarnate’ and a weevil ‘in our midst’, ‘our minister of information wanting to put people one against another.’ An irate Mugabe, intimating his intention to assert his authority once again over party processes,13 exclaimed:

This is an angry time, time of real anger as he (Shamuyarira) leaves us. He leaves us – me in particular- when I am terribly, terribly disappointed by some of our leaders.14 

In May 2014 the Government and the private sector crafted a National Code of Corporate Governance in an attempt to begin to deal with ‘salarygate’ declaring, as an interim measure, a cap of US $6000 for top earners in State Enterprises and local authorities. Yet it is difficult to accept that Zanu PF is deeply committed to this fight against corruption, both because it is so deeply embroiled in the party’s succession politics, and the Zimbabwean state has a long history of not confronting this issue comprehensively. While corruption scandals have been a feature of Zimbabwe politics since the 1980’s, the politics of the crisis period in the 2000’s and the changes in the architecture of the state that accompanied it, including the loss of state capacity and professionalism and the consequences of informalisation, new forms of elite accumulation and patronage, brought a new intensity to state corruption.15 Thus it would be naïve to think that the ‘devil incarnate’ or any other key elements within Zanu PF had suddenly stumbled across the problem of corruption. Indeed former MDC-T Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals in the coalition government, Gordon Moyo, stated that the information that Moyo was ‘revealing’ was well known to the government in the period of the Global Political Agreement. All these issues, according to the former Minister, were well known to the coalition government, but Zanu PF would brook no policy interventions by the MDCs, seeing its mandate as largely to nullify the efforts of the ruling party’s GPA partners.16 Indeed parastatals have longed been used as part of Zanu PF’s patronage network in the public sector, and the recent appointments of politicians and  former ambassadors as new board members to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, despite the recent furore within Zanu PF over abuse of public sector positions, confirms the continuation of this trend.17

The battle over corrupt state bodies represents a part of the broader economic challenges that the Mugabe regime faces. These include: an unpayable external debt, an adverse balance of payments position,18 capital flight from banks and the stock exchange, a national budget consumed largely by recurrent expenditure,19 a massive need for infrastructural development, and a GDP rate that has declined from 10.5 % in 2012 to just over 3% in 2013.20 The manufacturing sector has, for over a decade, been confronted with major obstacles such as working capital constraints, power and water shortages, ageing equipment and low domestic demand.21 Additionally because of dollarization the Reserve Bank admitted that it had no instruments to provide the fiscal stimulus to deal with a drift towards a deflationary economy.22    Finance Minister Chinamasa is under no illusions about the Herculean task that faces him and his Government. In a statement in May 2014, Chinamasa made it very clear that the Government of Zimbabwe was ‘very alive to the fact that systematic engagement with all nations will be key to unlocking funding’ and dealing with the country’s tight liquidity problem. In line with the Government’s continued negotiations with the IMF, ‘geared towards macro-economic stability,’ Chinamasa proclaimed:

In short Zimbabwe is open to Foreign Direct Investment from all Nations of the World, whether these be in the North, South, East or West……Let the message go out loud and clear that Zimbabwe is ready to re-integrate into the global economy. Zimbabwe is looking for new friendships, new opportunities while consolidating old ones. We are looking for mutually beneficial economic relationships not confrontation. We are too small a country to pursue a policy of confrontation.23

This move back to a discourse of ‘normalisation’ is not the first attempt in the crisis era from about 2000. In the post 2003 period attempts were made to seek an accommodation with international capital.24 However given the persistent questions around Zanu PF’s electoral legitimacy and the continued hope that the MDCs would be able to defeat Zanu PF in an electoral contest, these attempts were curtailed by the sanctions measures put in place against the Mugabe regime by Western countries. The greater acceptability of the 2013 elections, notwithstanding the continued reservations of the EU and the US, and the greatly weakened state of the opposition, changed the balance of forces in the country and allowed for a new dialogue to emerge with the international players. Equally important, the recalcitrance of the economic impediments facing Zanu PF, and the waning efficacy of its empowerment discourse in the face of these tribulations, forced a change in the tone and policy positions of the victorious regime.

While the Government of Zimbabwe is still negotiating an investment deal with the Chinese Government for an estimated US$10 billion based on the securitisation of Zimbabwe’s gold and diamond reserves, even Mugabe’s closest ally has spoken out against the government’s inconsistent policy positions.25 Based on their own experience the Chinese are well aware of the need for suitable and evolving institutions and the need for long-term political stability.26  In the face of Western and business criticisms around its empowerment programme the Government softened its rhetoric, particularly around its Indigenisation programme.27 A Policy Framework for the latter was first put in place in February 1998 and revised in October 2004, to deal with the historical imbalance of indigenous ownership in areas other than low value and low profit sectors of the economy. This process culminated in the enactment of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act (Chapter 14.33) in March 2008, with the main objective of the Act being to ‘endeavour to secure that at least 51% of the shares of every public company and any other business shall be owned by indigenous Zimbabweans.’ In February 2010 the Government of Zimbabwe promulgated the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (General) Regulations. These provided that all businesses with a net asset value equal to or above US$500,000 located in Zimbabwe should put in place plans that would result in 51% of the shares in the company being transferred to indigenous shareholders within five years from the date of operation of the regulations. Moreover the regulations required affected companies to submit a structure of their shareholders and a plan for empowerment implementation within forty five days after the regulations came into effect.28

In response to the many criticisms over ownership issues and the application of the regulations to different sectors, Mugabe attempted to allay the fears of investors by stating the Government did not have either nationalisation or expropriation in mind, but rather that ‘any equity that an indigenous person takes up will be disposed of at fair value.’ The Minister of Finance and Economic Development further qualified the position by noting that there would be no one-size-fits all position and that the threshold of indigenous ownership would be decided on a sector-by-sector basis. Furthermore the investor would have the power to choose the local partner and determine the share price.29 In order to increase the competitiveness of the economy the Minister of Finance also promised more flexible labour relations through the amendment of the Labour Act Chapter 28.01 to deal with constraints in retrenchments, terminal benefits, downsizing, working hours and arbitration.30 As part of the process of increasing labour flexibility, the Government also announced its intention to re-establish Special Economic Zones, formerly known as Export Processing Zones in the ESAP period, where enterprises would be allowed to operate under more flexible special regulations.31

Donors such as the governments of the EU have shown some recognition of the new messaging emerging from the Government. Evidence of this is the move away from the ‘restrictive measures’ and the promise that Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement will be lifted barring any new major human rights violations in the country.32 The EU is currently preparing a country cooperation programme that, while not including budgetary support because of the dire state of public finance management by the state, will be composed of support for health, rural food security and governance, priorities jointly agreed to with the Zimbabwean Government. An additional significant development is that in 2013 Mugabe signed an interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU that will, if effected, add to the liberalisation impetus currently underway in the current period. These developments are taking place notwithstanding the EU’s discomfort at the mixed policy messages still coming out of the state, including the ambiguities of the Indigenisation legislation, the violation of Bilateral Investment agreements in the land occupations of conservancies in Chiredzi and Triangle in May, and Mugabe’s boycott of the EU Africa summit in Brussels in 2014. Investing in Zimbabwe, according to the Australian Ambassador remains akin to ‘swimming in Zambezi between Crocodiles and Hippos.’33

The mixed policy messaging of the Mugabe regime can be attributed both to the challenges of seeking fuller international re-engagement while holding on to its empowerment programme, and the tensions within Zanu PF about how to proceed with such a re-engagement. The tropes of sovereignty, liberation history, regional solidarity and empowerment have been integral to Zanu PF’s political imaginary and ‘language of stateness’, in both the party’s ‘practical languages of governance’ and the ‘symbolic languages of authority’.34 However the exposure of the limits of the state’s capacity to effect its indigenisation programme has led to the dual strategy of seeking a rapprochement with the West, while promising to export the Zimbabwean model to the SADC region. The grandiose promises of the discourse of Zanu PF’s nationalism has, more than ever under the severe structural limitations of the current period and perhaps with his eye on the emergence of Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters on to the South African electoral stage, pushed Mugabe to seek to promote his project and seek complementary policy initiatives from the region, as he moves towards his tenure as Chair of SADC.35 The view that SADC increasingly views Zimbabwe as an ‘anchor state’ that could have more influence over bilateral and regional politics, is likely to provide a further stimulus to these ambitions.36 The resonance of this ambition also draws on the common interests and perspectives shared by the liberation movements in the region.37 However whatever the long-term potential of Zimbabwe’s land reform and the ‘accumulation from below’ model38 (and the challenges around this remain monumental),39 in the near future the desperate budgetary requirements of the state are likely to see the persistence of schizophrenic policy pronouncements linked to a gradual drift towards re-engagement with the West.

The Descent of Opposition Politics

Even as Zanu PF has faced major challenges around the politics of succession and the enormous structural problems in the economy, it has had the space to ponder these obstacles in the presence of an opposition politics facing even more arduous difficulties, and for the moment paralysed by another debilitating split in its ranks. The potentially damaging public revelations of corruption and ineptitude in the party-state have been conducted as though the opposition were invisible, as the corrosion of its capacity has become all too apparent. Apart from the immense challenges of state repression and political obstruction faced by the MDC-T in particular, both since its formation and under the GPA, the longstanding, problematic internal dynamics of the party40 combined with a weakened electoral strategy in 2013,41 induced a further crisis in the party.

In early 2014 the Deputy Treasurer-General for the MDC-T, Elton Mangoma, wrote a letter to the President of the party, Morgan Tsvangirai, stating that there was a ‘crisis of leadership, crisis of expectation and above all a crisis of confidence in the party, externally and internally.’ Crucially, while Tsvangirai was still holding on to the view that the ‘underlying cause of our current predicament is the disputed election’,42 Mangoma went on to propose that it was time for Tsvangirai to ‘consider leaving the office of the president of the movement,’ and that in order to reinvigorate the connections with the base of the party it was best for the President to ‘step aside and allow progress by democratic forces.’43 Following the public revelation of this letter Mangoma was physically abused by MDC-T party youths, suspended for ‘provoking divisions and bringing the movement into disrepute’, and finally expelled from the party.

In the aftermath of these events Tendai Biti, the Secretary General of the party condemned both developments and confirmed his support for the positions taken by Mangoma.  Moreover in a countermove, in his capacity as Secretary-General of the party Biti convened a national council which voted for the suspension of Tsvangirai and several other leaders. This statement from this meeting expressed opposition to the use of violence, abuse of power and patronage and the use of all forms of ‘intimidation, duress and malice’ against those in the party who were speaking out for ‘democracy and renewal.’44  In an attempt to provide more theoretical grounding for their new political position Biti argued that,

…if nationalism can become exhausted in the Fanonian manner equally post-liberation movements are not unique to that same level of exhaustion arising out of all these contradictions. If you look now, if you carry a balance sheet of all post-liberation movements they are in crisis. And the old nationalist parties are either re-emerging or redesigning themselves.45

These events were followed by further counter suspensions and expulsions from the Tsvangirai leadership,46 with the constitutionality of Biti’s national council meeting being questioned47 and Tsvangirai stating that he could only be removed at a national party congress. Tsvangirai’ s close ally and party organising secretary Nelson Chamisa described the party president the ‘founding father of democracy in Zimbabwe, the doyen of constitutionalism,’ and, in terms reminiscent of Mugabe’s acolytes, declared: ‘You can’t replace a person chosen by God.’48 Accompanying these developments in the MDC-T have been the complete marginalisation of the smaller MDC formation, reports of discord and defections from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA),49 constitutional movements turned political in the post 2013 election period, and the predictable emergence of new parties, with one party being formed from a Christian network group.50

This palpable sense of disorientation and the desperate search for new forms of political renewal can also be felt in the formal organisations of civil society. Casting around for new ways to engage the state and citizenry in a new political context in which, as Ncube observes, the efficacy of deploying ‘human rights discourse to demonstrate the illegitimacy of the Zanu PF regime,’ has been curtailed, the civic groups have had to rethink the articulation between rights and redistribution questions.51 In response organisations such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition have put out new position papers attempting to set out this challenge. In the case of the Forum the organisation argues the ‘need to acknowledge that Zimbabwe human rights violations cannot be addressed separately from the broader political economy issues.’52 For the Crisis Coalition, ‘there is need for a broad-based approach to issues that also place emphasis on economic governance issues including corruption, social services delivery and the enjoyment of all human rights, that is, civil political, social and economic.’53 Morgan Tsvangirai expressed similar view in a post-election interview:

In the early to late 1990’s a human rights agenda was at the forefront, no doubt about it, but in a continent…facing other crises, obviously the focus will change, depending on the crisis. And it puts the human rights agenda at the bottom of priorities.

What has changed in my view is the philosophy; there is a general fatigue about the Zimbabwe issue, it is better to re-engage on the basis of stability rather than democracy. So the objective has changed; these days as long as there are no dead bodies on the streets, then that’s OK, then things are OK in Zimbabwe.54      

Moreover the reconfiguration of Zimbabwe’s political economy in the 2000’s has forced both the opposition MDCs and the civic movement to rethink issues of social agency in Zimbabwe’s public sphere.55 During the 1990’s and the early 2000’s the Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions was at the heart of the civic movement due to a combination of it national organisational reach, its strong leadership and technical capacity, and the skill with which it built broad social alliances.56 With decline of its formal membership by almost half, according to one estimate,57 the central force of the labour movement has been largely lost to civic struggles. The absence of such a central organisational force has led to some critical assessments of the neglected or marginalised aspects of civic actions. One such assessment has once again strongly criticised the ‘deeply entrenched culture of masculinities’ that have for the last two decades crafted and informed the ‘primary choices and methods of public, confrontational protest and disruptive resistance that were deployed, validated and valorised, celebrated,’ in Zimbabwean civil society.58  Thus Bella Matambanadzo quotes from one of her interviews the challenges women faced in setting up their own structures in rural communities.

In the beginning we would call meetings for all the community to attend. The women would attend. We would have the numbers present, but the problem was that they would keep quiet. We changed our tactics and started organising women around sports, market gardens and groups of cross border traders. This created confidence in women. We had given them their own space to talk about issues that affected them first.59

Other civic groups have seen new possibilities in the violence that exploded between the police and Members of the Johane Masowe church when the former sought to enforce a ban on the church for the alleged abuse of women and children. The incident which took place on the 30 May 2014 was described in the publication of one civic coalition as ‘the self-organisation of the sect to confront state excesses’ and the ‘spontaneous rise of the proletariat against state power.’ The attempt to place this event within the model of class struggle once thought to typify the form and agency of working class struggles, is mistaken in conceptual terms, and is likely to overlook the particularities of the history of relations between religion, the state and politics in Zimbabwe.60 This history points much more to what Maxwell calls ‘an intriguing mix of religious, political and economic themes concerning African nationalism, American commodification of religion, and racial ambivalence.’ Moreover such movements are driven by a combination of egalitarian ideals and authoritarian structures that allows them to connect both with radical politics and authoritarian political parties.61 Clearly there is a need to study such developments much more in the near future, and to track the possible relations between the loss of confidence in a secular opposition politics and the growth of more religious discourses of dissent. Such discourses provide attempts to explain the politics in the country through a language and explanatory framework that has a longer genealogy than Zanu PF’s ‘patriotic history’, and the effects of such interventions on Zimbabwean politics are likely to be both complex and ambiguous.

A further feature of the opposition discourse in the aftermath of Zanu PF’s ‘victory’ has been a push for a new political consensus in the country. In the presence of a greatly weakened opposition, new initiatives have emerged in the form of a more technocratic language around international re-engagement, building national institutions and national consensus, the need to establish a ‘National Transitional Council’62 to oversee the governance of the country, and the importance of developing a new social contract between the state, labour and capital.63 As the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO forum correctly observed there is a ‘clear thread of reconciliation’ in the speeches of sections of the opposition.64

Conclusion

The post 2013 election period has witnessed several significant developments in Zimbabwean politics. While Zanu PF have presided over the implosion of the MDC-T, the complete marginalisation of the smaller MDC formation, the largely political irrelevance of the newly formed NCA political party, and the disorientation of the civic movement, the ruling party has also been marred by renewed internal factional struggles and widespread reports of corruption. Moreover the radical rhetoric that marked Zanu PF’s election campaign has once again given way to a combination of such rhetoric with a new movement towards neo-liberal policies and re-engagement with the West. The “constraints of ‘victory’ ” have become clear as Zanu PF struggles to find a path through the daunting economic and political challenges that confront it in the new era. A major factor that favours the ruling party is the fact that it is attempting to deal with these tasks in the presence of the debilitating weakness of the once formidable Movement for Democratic Change. Once again the task falls on the civic movement to rethink its structures and forms of interventions within this new context, and to provide the vibrancy required to re-imagine political alternatives for the country. However in doing this the civic movement should never lose sight of the real advances and contributions that were made by the MDC, which permanently changed the political landscape in the country.

Brian Raftopoulos
Director, Research and Advocacy
Solidarity Peace Trust
June 2014


1 Solidarity Peace Trust, ‘The End of a Road: The 2013 Elections in Zimbabwe.’ Johannesburg, October 2013; B.Raftopoulos, ‘The 2013 Elections in Zimbabwe: The End of an Era,’ Journal of Southern African Studies, 39,4, (December 2013), pp.971-988;  B.Raftopoulos (ed), The Hard Road to Reform: The Politics of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement (Weaver Press, Harare, 2013); J.Alexander, J.McGregor, and M.B.Tendi (eds), Special Issue: Politics, Patronage and Violence in Zimbabwe, Journal of Southern African Studies, 39, 4, December 2013; D. Moore, ‘Death or Dearth of Democracy in Zimbabwe? Africa Spectrum, 49,1, (2014), pp. 101-114.

2 Labour and Economic Development Research Institute (LEDRIZ), ‘The 2014 National Budget Statement-Towards an Empowered Society and Growing Economy.’ Presentation to the Parliament of Zimbabwe, 19 December 2013.

3 B.Raftopoulos, ‘The Crisis in Zimbabwe, 1998-2008,’ in B.Raftopoulos and A.Mlambo (eds), Becoming Zimbabwe- A History from the Pre-colonial period to 2008, (Weaver Press, Harare, 2009). 

4 L.Sachikonye, When a State Turns on its Citizens: 60 Years of Institutionalised Violence in Zimbabwe, (Jacana Press, Johannesburg, 2011).

5 Here I once again draw on the insights of, A.Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, (Lawrence and Wishart, London,1982).  S.Hall, Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left: The Hard Road to Renewal, (Verso, London, 1988).

6 R.Primorac, ‘The Poetics of State Terror in Twenty First Century Zimbabwe,’ Interventions, International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 9,3, (2007), p.441.

7 J.Alexander and J.McGregor, ‘Introduction: Politics, Patronage and Violence in Zimbabwe,’ Journal of Southern African Studies, 39,4, (2013), p. 752.

8 J.Ranciere, The Politics of Aesthetics. The Distribution of the Sensible, ( Continuum, London, 2004.)

9 ‘Moyo slams high salaries’, The Zimbabwe Mail. Retrieved 27 January 2014 from http://www.hezimbabwemail.com/zimbabwe20463-moyo-slams-high-salary-earners.html

10 ‘Editorial Comment-Salarygate: Heads, torsos should role’, The Herald. Retrieved 11 February 2014 from http:/zimbabwesituation.com/news/simsit_editorial-comment-salarygate-heads.

11 ‘Succession: Mujuru fingers Mnangagwa in salary-gate leaks’. Retrieved 13 February 2014 from http:/www.zimbabwemail.com/Zimbabwe/20755-succession-mujuru-accuses-mnagagwa.

12 ‘I don’t want to leave the party in tatters’, The Herald. Retrieved 24 February 2014 from http:/www.herald.co.zw/i-don’t-want-to-leave-party-in-tatters.   

13 For an argument on Mugabe’s continued control over Zanu PF see M.B.Tendi, ‘Ideology, Civilian Authority and the Zimbabwean Military’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 39,4, (December 2013), pp.829-843.

14 “Robert Mugabe chides ‘divisive’ Moyo, again’. Retrieved on 9 June 2014 from http:/www.thezimbabwemail.com/Robert-mugabe-chides-divisive-minister-again. Picking up Mugabe’s comment about ‘weevils’, Zanu PF Secretary for Administration, Didymus Mutasa proposed one way of dealing with this beetle from the Curculionidae family that devoured stored grain: ‘You were talking about the issue of weevils here. Way back we used to treat weevils by spraying gamatox (pesticide) and they would all die. Our weevils, if you know about them, which we are castigating now, please apply gamatox to them.’ ‘Mnangagwa leads factions not Mujuru, says Mutasa’. Retrieved 10 June 2014 from http:/thezimbabwemail.com/mnangagwa-leads-faction-not-mujuru-says-mutasa. The language of eradication through ‘the rains that wash away the chaff’ (Gukurahundi in the early 1980’s), or ‘removing the filth (Operation Murambatsvina, 2005) is not new to Zanu PF. In 2008 Mutasa himself proposed that Zimbabwe could do without that half of the population that had voted for the MDC’s.

15 Alexander and McGregor, Introduction, p749. For more detail on various corruption scandals since 1980 see, K.Yamamoto, ‘Mugabe fighting corruption? Forger it.’ Retrieved 10 April 2014 from http:/zimbabwemail.com/news/aspx?15219.

16 “Govt fingered over ‘obscene ’salaries”. Retrieved on 31 January 2014 from http:/www.theindependent.co.zw/2014/01/31/govt-fingered-obscene-salaries.

17 ‘Politicians dominate Zesa boards’, Herald, 13 June 2014.

18 ZimTrades’s Export Manufacturing Capacity Survey for 2013 reported that about 71.4% of companies that used to export five to ten years ago have stopped exporting due to the obstacles in the exporting process and producing for export, the fall in the quality of products, lack of skilled labour and the erosion of prices due to dollarization. ‘70% of Zimbabwe’s export firms closed’. Retrieved on 15 April 2014 from http:/www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_70-of-export-firms-closed.

19 The government’s salary bill amounted to US$2.6 billion dollars in 2013, which was 68% of its total budget. ‘Govt in Fiscal Stress after salary hikes’. Retrieved on 21 February 2014 from https:/ www.financialgazette.co.zw/govt-in-fiscal-stress-after-salary-hikes.

20 International Monetary Fund, ‘Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Mission on Zimbabwe.’ Press Release No 14/135, 27 March 2014; Ledriz, ‘The 2014 National Budget Statement.’ .

21 See the Annual Confederation of Zimbabwean Industries Manufacturing Survey Reports, (Harare, 2009-2013).

22 ‘No tools to mend economy’. Retrieved on 8 May 2014 from http:/www.newzimbabwe.com.news/aspx?newsID=15623.

23 ‘Keynote Speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. P.A.Chinamasa,’ in the SAPES Trust/National Endowment for Democracy Report of the International Conference on Zimbabwe Going Forward: Consolidating the Democratisation Process and Reinforcing Re-Engagement with the Global Community, Harare, 5-6 May 2014. A month earlier Chinamasa admitted in desperation: ‘No one wants to lend us money anymore because we have defaulted in the past. Whether we go to Zambia or to Malawi, it’s the same thing because we are indebted to these countries. We are on our own and we have to be innovative.’ Retrieved on 29 April 2014 from https:/www.newzimbabwe.com/news/aspx?newsID=15623.     

24 J. Saul and Saunders, ‘Mugabe, Gramsci and Zimbabwe at Twenty-Five’, in J.Saul, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy in Southern Africa, (UKZN Press, Scottsville, 2005). S.Moyo and P.Yeros, ‘The Radicalised state: Zimbabwe’s Interrupted Revolution’, Review of African Political Economy, 34,111, (2007) pp.103-121;

25 S.Logan, ‘Should China bailout Zimbabwe’? Retrieved on 11 June 2014 from http:/newzimbabwe.com/news/aspx?newID=16199. Presidential Affairs Minister, Didimus Mutasa recently expressed some frustration with the Chinese Government: ‘The Chinese have not been forthcoming. We cannot look East or West. We need to look within ourselves.’ ‘Mutasa blasts China for making false promises’. Retrieved on 24 April 2014 from http:/thezimbabwemail.com/mutasa-blasts-china.

26 Zhan Shu, ‘The Impact of Sino-African Cooperation on Africa’s Development’. Presentation at Chatham House, London, 24 March 2014.

27 K.Chitiyo and S.Kibble, Zimbabwe’s International Re-engagement: The Long Haul to Recovery, Chatham House Report, (Chatham House, London, 2014), p 10.   

28 J.Chipika and J.Malaba, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment in Zimbabwe, (Business Council of Zimbabwe, Harare, 2011), p2-3.

29 Chinamasa, Keynote Speech.

30 ‘ZCTU rejects labour law review proposal’. Retrieved on 24 March 2014 from https:/www.newsday.co.zw/zctu-rejects-labour-law-proposals/

31 Veritas Bill Watch 18/2014 of 16 April (Special Economic Zones).

32 B.Raftopoulos, ‘The Sanctions Debate in Zimbabwe’. Zimbabwe Review, Solidarity Peace Trust, April 2014.

33 SAPES Trust/NED, Report of the National Conference op cit.

34 T.B. Hansen and F.Stepputat, ‘Introduction’, in T.B.Hnasen and F,Stepputat (eds), States of Imagination-Ethnographic Explorations of the Post-Colonial State, (Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2001), p7.

35 ‘Mugabe to use SADC to promote indigenisation’. Retrieved on 12 June 2014 from http:/www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_g_mugabe-to-use-sadc-chairmanship

36 Chitiyo and Kibble, Zimbabwe International Re-engagement, p.29.

37 For a very good discussion of the commonalities and differences between the liberation movements in Southern Africa see, R.Southall, Liberation Movements in Power: Party and State in Southern Africa, (Woodbridge, James Currey, Pietermaritzburg, UKZN Press, 2013); R.Southall, ‘Threats to Constitutionalism by Movements in Southern Africa’, Africa Spectrum, 49,1, (2014), PP. 79-99; h.Melber, Understanding Namibia. The Trials of Independence, (London, Hurst, forthcoming 2014).  

38 I.Scoones, N.Marongwe, B.Mavedzenge, J.Mahenehene, F.Murimbarimba and C.Sukume, Zimbabwe’s Land Reform: Myths and Realities, (Woodbridge, James Currey, Harare, Weaver Press, Johannesburg. Jacana Press, 2010).

39 P.Matondi, Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme, (London and New York, Nordic Africa Institute and Zed Press, 2012); P.Zamchiya, ‘Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe: revising the ‘accumulation from below’ thesis’. (Unpub mimeo 2014).

40 B.Raftpoulos, ‘Reflections on Opposition Politics in Zimbabwe: The Movement for Democratic Change’, in R.Primorac and S.Chan (eds), Zimbabwe in Crisis. The International Response and the Space of Silence, (London and New York, Routledge, 2007); A.LeBas, From Protest to Parties: Party Building and Democratisation in Africa (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013).   

41 P.Zamchiya, ‘The MDC-T’s (Un)Seeing Eye in Zimbabwe’s 2013 Harmonised Lections: A Technical Knockout’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 39,4, (December 2013), pp.955-962.

42 ‘MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai’s state of the nation address’. Retrieved on 27 January 2014 from http:/www.zimbabwesituation.co./news/zimsit_mdc-president-morgan-tsvangirai-state-of- the-nation=address.

43 ‘Full Text of Elton Mangoma’s plot to oust Tsvangirai’. Retrieved on 27 January 2014 from http:/www.thezimbabwemail.com/opinion/20489-full-text-of-elton-mangoma-s-plot=to-oust-tsvangirai/

44 ‘Full Text of Biti Statement on Tsvangirai suspension’. Retrieved on 29 April 2014 from http:/thezimbabwemail.com/full-text-of-biti-statement-on-tsvangirai-suspension/

45 ‘Whither Opposition Politics in Zimbabwe: Hon.Tendai Biti’. Retrieved on 2 May 2014 from http:/www.sapes.org.zw/index.php/3-sapes-trust/news/61-whither-opposition-politics/

46 ‘National Council Resolutions, Harvest House, Harare, 29 April 2014’. Retrieved on 30 April 2014 from http:/www.thezimbabwemail.com/national-council-resolutionsharvest-house-harare-29-april-2014/

47 ‘Press Statement: MDC headquarters, Harvest House, Harare, 27 April 2014’.

48 ‘Zim politicians must stop grovelling antics’. Zimbabwe Independent, 14 March 2014. Former Deputy Minister of Justice under the GPA, Obert Gutu of the MDC-T supported Chamisa’s statement:’ I see nothing wrong with people bootlicking and saying leaders are ordained by God, because essentially we are a faith-based country.’ ‘Don’t cheer MDC-T woe yet, Bob warned’. Retrieved on 2 May 2014 from http:/www.newzimbabwe.com/newsID=15523.

49 ‘NCA members ditch Madhuku’. Retrieved on 28 January 2014 from http:/www.thezimbabwemail.co./Zimbabwe/20514-nca-members-ditch-madhuku/

50 Transform Zimbabwe was formed in December 2013 purportedly following a convention of the 12,000 member Christian network group, Prayer Network Zimbabwe. ‘Transform Zimbabwe president abducted’. Retrieved on 13 June 2014 from http:/nehandaradio.com/2014/06/12/transform-zimbabwe-president-abducted/

51 C.Ncube, ‘The 2013 Elections in Zimbabwe: End of an Era for Human Rights Discourse’? Africa Spectrum, 48,3, (2013), pp. 99-110. For an early attempt to think through this challenge in Zimbabwe see, B.Raftopoulos, ‘The Zimbabwean Crisis and the Challenges of the Left’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 32,2, (2006), pp. 203-219.

52 Human Rights NGO Forum, ‘Re-thinking strategy on the Zimbabwean Crisis’. Harare, 23 May 2014.

53 Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, ‘Ten Points Repositioning the Coalition’. Harare, 14 February 2014.

54 ‘Beaten, broke but still ready for battle’. Retrieved on 29 May 2014 from http:/thezimbabwe.com/beaten-broke-but-still-ready-for-battle/

55 Raftopoulos, The End of an Era.

56 B.Raftopoulos and L.Sachikonye (eds), The Labour Movement and the Post-Colonial State in Zimbabwe1980-2000, (Harare, Weaver Press, 2001); Saul and Saunders, Mugabe, Gramsci and Zimbabwe at Twenty Five; C.McCorley, ‘Structure, agency and regime change: a comparative analysis of social actors and regime change in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe’, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31,2,(2013), pp. 265-282.

57 M.Aeby, ‘Civil Society Organisations in Zimbabwe’s Transitional Power-Sharing Process: Structural Constraints, Political Participation and Civic-Party Relations.’ Unpub mimeo 2014.

58 I.Matambanadzo, ‘ Gender and Women’s Rights-An Assessment of Zimbabwean CSOs:2014’. Unpub mimeo 2014, p.5.; S.Essof, Shemurenga. The Zimbabwe Women’s Movement 1995-2000. (Harare, Weaver Press, 2013).

59 Matambanadzo, Gender and Women’s Rights, pp.5-6.

60 For a comprehensive history of Pentecostalism in Zimbabwe see, D.Maxwell, African Gifts of the Spirit. Pentecostalism and the Rise of a Zimbabwean Transnational Religious Movement. (Oxford, Harare, and Ohio/ James Currey, Weaver Press, and Ohio University Press, 2006).

61 Ibid p. 3. See also E.Chitando, “ ‘Down with the devil, Forward with Christ!’. A study of the interface between religious and political discourses in Zimbabwe”. African Sociological Review, 6,1, (2002).

62 ‘We need a transitional govt: Biti’. Retrieved on 12 June 2014 from http:/www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_we-need-a-transitional-govt-biti/

63 This discourse was clearly apparent in the Sapes Trust/National Endowment for Democracy Conference, op cit; note also the workshop organised by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in June entitled, ‘Transcending Politics. The State of the Economy and International Re-engagement.’

64 Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, “MDC Hints at ‘National Dialogue’ during Press Conference”. Harare, 4 February, (2014).

Fri, June 27 2014 » 2013, Elections

One Response

  1. Wilbert Mukori June 27 2014 @ 11:10 pm

    Interesting, thank you for sharing the article with me.

    It is a great pity that Brian is not helping in getting us out of the mess Zimbabwe is in because he has failed to address the real problem here. I have read the article and responded thus:

    What is Brian Raftopoulos wittering about, “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’!” All these are historic excuses that had a marginal effect on the outcome of the July 2013 elections whilst other others are in fact pure nonsense!

    Yes Mugabe has often relied on violence to win elections, the wanton violence during the presidential run-off elections in 2008 was the worse in the country’s history. In the 2013 elections Mugabe knew the whole world was watching him like an eagle and therefore he did not use violence. To say that he did is a complete misrepresentation of the facts!

    Mugabe won the 2013 elections because he had total control of the Police, Courts, ZEC and all the other state institution who all played key roles in the execution of his vote rigging plan. Mugabe had the Israeli company Nikuv corrupt the voters roll, for example, which enable him to deny nearly a million voters, mainly MDC supporters, on the day the vote because their names were deliberately posted in another Polling area other than that they expected to vote in.

    Mugabe needed ZEC to turn a blind eye to his failure to produce a voters roll before the elections and the commission’s continued cooperation in hiding the voters roll, the smoking gun to the vote rigging.

    Mugabe has also used the failure to produce a voters roll to cover up the hundreds of thousands of his own supporters who were bussed in to vote on voting day. The whole world saw the bussed in voters and the Police did not lift a finger to investigate!

    Of course Mugabe would have never blatantly rigged the elections if MDC had carried out the democratic reforms as agreed in the GPA!

    For Brian to dismiss MDC’s breath-taking incompetence in failing to implement not even one reform as “declining fortunes of the opposition MDCs” only goes to show how he has failed to comprehend the importance of the reform.

    It is nonsense to suggest SADC sided with Mugabe and Zanu PF out of “regional solidarity for the ‘party of liberation’!” How many times did SADC leaders tell Tsvangirai and his MDC friends to follow the GPA roadmap and implement the reforms and how many times did MDC ignore their advice?

    In a recent interview, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, MDC leader, admitted that SADC and the international community advised MDC not to take part in the July 2013 elections without the reforms. Both SADC and the international community deserted MDC in sheer frustration when MDC once again ignored the advice.

    I believe the international community would like to help Zimbabwe get out of this political and economic mess Mugabe has landed us in but only if we, Zimbabweans, can demonstrate that we are now serious about getting out of the mess. MDC’s breath-taking incompetence showed that we are not serious and when people like Brian Raftopoulos are not helping us address this very serious shortcoming by sweeping it under the carpet!

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