Robert Mugabe Inaugurated as President for the 7th time
By David Moore. David Moore’s 1990 York University (Canada) Phd examined the history of Zimbabwe’s liberation war: the contradictions continue still. Now Professor of Development Studies at the University of Johannesburg, while on sabbatical he is Visiting Scholar at UCT’s Centre for African Studies. This is an altered version of an August 9 OpenCanada.org publication.
August 1 6:08: from inside a party meeting assessing the damage, the SMS from the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai activist could not have been more different than his “WE HV WON” after Zimbabwe’s March 2008 election. “Bad news” wrote the man who was in seventh heaven at the country’s biggest ever political rally two days before: “We hv bn hit by the unexplainable. Its game over. 5 years with Mugabe again”.
The MDC-T’s hopes for a ‘crossover’ peaked at the rally (twenty per cent being registered, opined one senior observer: I trust that the young fellow who pickpocked me was one of the unregistered masses!). The real crossover contrasted starkly to the hopes of the MDC-T, its civil society supporters, and democrats the world over. It marked a fundamental transformation in Zimbabwe’s polity and social order nonetheless.
The results were soon in: ZANU-PF’s 62 to 34% victory over Zimbabwe’s main opposition in the presidential race and an over two-thirds parliamentary majority guarantee ‘revolutionary party’ power for the next five years. Many words have been spilled saying that this will be Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s last term as president, but it should not be forgotten that after 2005’s elections he said he’d rule until he was a century old. Constitution makers may have stopped this: two terms, up to 10 years, is the limit. Biology willing, the need to maintain a faction-ridden ZANU-PF could stretch his years in power to 99.
Mugabe’s August 22 inauguration completed the text messenger’s disappointment. In the intervening three weeks, the MDC-T’s manoeuvres seemed rote: would the ZANU-PF-packed courts ever have allowed evidence proving the ballot fraudulent, null, and void? Would SADC’s and the AU’s slight hesitations in their reports have ever been acted on?
SADC’s consecration at Llongwe preceding the final anointment was the cake’s icing. Lindiwe Zulu, labelled in July a prostitute by Mugabe for trying to keep Zimbabwe’s...Read more
Wed, September 4 2013 » 2013, Elections, Zimbabwe Review » Leave a comment
By Brian Raftopoulos, Solomon Mungure, Nicky Rousseau and Masheti Masinjila. The authors are part of the Violence and Transition Project in Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa funded by the IDRC.
The recently concluded elections in Kenya against the background of the electoral violence of 2007, the anticipated election in Zimbabwe in 2013 with the memory of state led electoral violence in 2008 still fresh in the memory of the electorate, and the proclivity for state violence in South Africa witnessed in the Marikana killings, all point to different but connected legacies of violence in these countries.
Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa are three former British settler colonies where between 1963 and 1994 the countries witnessed the coming of independence and the end of white settler rule. However the forms of violence that characterised both colonial rule and the anti-colonial struggles in those countries have continued to haunt their political and everyday life. Thus the Mau Mau period in Kenya, the dominantly guerilla war in Zimbabwe and the widespread urban resistance and more limited armed struggle of the South African liberation movements have found continuing echoes in the contemporary violence in these countries.
One key factor in understanding the different politics of violence in these countries has been the role of the state. While the state has become conflated with the dominant political party and its violence in Zimbabwe this has been less apparent in Kenya and, with some exception, not the case in South Africa. Nevertheless violence in all three countries, whether perpetrated by the military, paramilitary or informal armed formations or protesting citizens is closely associated with the dynamics of anti-colonial nationalism and state formation. Moreover questions of sovereignty, nation-building and legitimacy lie at the heart of making sense of the forms and character of violence.
For example, the state has played a crucial role in determining the relative weight of ethnic identification as a factor of violence. Thus colonialism, and more particularly its constructions of indirect rule or what the scholar Mahmood Mamdani refers to as ‘decentralised despotism,’ gave rise to ethnicity as a key marker setting the limits of the boundaries of political community in ways that have in many cases endured in the post-colonial period.
Of the three countries, the discourse and moral economy of this particular category have been most evident in Kenya where the battle and exercise of state power has been largely played out within the limits of elite alliances...Read more
Fri, July 19 2013 » 2013, Elections, Zimbabwe Review » Leave a comment
Teresa P. Mugadza
Teresa Mugadza is the Deputy Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission. She is writing in her personal capacity and the views expressed in this article are her own.
I want to start with a disclaimer. First, I do not represent anyone but myself and therefore my views are myopic to the extent that I represent my selfish interests. Second, I am a functionary of the inclusive government as a Commissioner, so I am sure there are some that will perceive me to be compromised just by that station. I, however, believe that this does not and should not preclude me from voicing my position as a Zimbabwean woman. Further, I am persuaded that after having read the Draft Constitution I owe it to fellow women, to state why I have chosen to vote “YES”.
Now having dispensed with the disclaimer, I must also hasten to add, that my decision to vote “YES” is not in any way to suggest that I do not have any issues related to the formulation of the Draft Constitution or the processes related to the forthcoming Referendum. I do… starting with the fact that I honestly do not believe that the process leading to the Draft Constitution itself was as participatory as it could have been. I am of the firm view that women were not heard to the extent they should have been. There is ample evidence of this from the COPAC reports. In terms of the forthcoming Constitutional Referendum itself, I am of the view that the time given for dissemination and analysis of the Draft Constitution to Zimbabweans is too short. I am not persuaded that exactly 30 days is adequate time for the kind of reading of the Draft Constitution that citizens need in order to make informed decisions on the day of the Referendum itself. Finally I am not persuaded that the Draft Constitution will be circulated as widely as it should be before the Referendum. This could very well mean that people may end up voting for a Draft Constitution they have neither seen nor read and sadly in some instances, for a document whose contents they do not understand.
Now having dispensed with the preliminary issues, I want to go into why I am voting “Yes”.
1. I am a firm believer in participation. One of my good friends likes to say “decisions are made by those that participate”, and I totally subscribe to that idea. I have voted in every election and referendum since I became eligible to vote, and this Referendum is going to be no exception. I will vote because I want to participate in what I believe...Read more
Wed, March 6 2013 » Elections, Zimbabwe Review » Leave a comment
by Marc Epprecht – Dept. of Global Development Studies and Dept. of History, Queens University, Canada
Two flags fly side by side over the corner of a quiet tree-lined street and a busy thoroughfare in one of Harare’s inner northern suburbs. There is the red, gold, black and green of Zimbabwe‘s national standard (let‘s not talk of the splash of white just now). But beside it flutters something even more colourful: the international symbol of gay pride. The rainbow flag signifies the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity within the unity of the whole, humanity, democratic rights and freedoms for all citizens.
It is a remarkable statement of self-confidence by GALZ (formerly Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe), the owner of the property from which the flags have been hoisted. The association itself has been around for over two decades providing social and legal support, counselling, sexual health education, research, and lobbying for sexual minority rights. Its social centre dates from 1996 courtesy of the courage of its founders and the generosity (and discipline) of its principal funders, HIVOS and the Atlantic Philanthropies, notably. GALZ maintains a website and puts out a well-written, sometimes quite combative newsletter/magazine. Among GALZ’ numerous other publications is an overview of the history of same-sex sexuality in southern Africa from pre-colonial times (that is, within traditional African cultures), and a thoroughly referenced legal brief that argued for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the proposed (but eventually aborted) 1999 constitution (GALZ 1999).
I was at the centre recently to chat with members, and I have to admit my expectations coming in were not all that high. GALZ’ long-time director and resident dynamo Keith Goddard, had died suddenly a couple of years ago, while many of the other movers and shakers from the early days had left. I’d heard that following the last police raid, the library and archives had been moved away for safety. Harare in general is a mess, people are close to starving in the rural areas, and I had frankly never seen a tobacco leaf as pathetic as the ones hanging from spindly stalks in the new resettlement farms I had passed through. The press was meanwhile once again full of bile, stereotypes and mockery of homosexuals and the very concept of gay rights.
The prospect of elections always seems to bring out this nasty streak in Zimbabwe’s political discourse, although of course Zimbabweans are not alone in that regard. From Uganda to Senegal to Burundi, sexual minorities have been the target of increased demagogic attacks...Read more
Thu, June 21 2012 » Constitution, Human rights, Zimbabwe Review » 1 Comment
'We are all Zimbabweans now' - a novel by James Kilgore
By James Kilgore - Research Scholar, Center for African Studies, University of Illinois, (Urbana-Champaign).
I began my career as a fiction writer in 2003 at the age of 57. I guess you could say my entry into this world of the writer took place under special circumstances. At the time I was in a California prison, adjusting to a new way of life after spending 27 years as a fugitive. Most of that time I’d spent in southern Africa, working as an educator and helping my partner raise our children. By 2003 all of that was becoming distant memories. To make matters worse, the few bits and pieces of information I did get about events in Zimbabwe were hardly cheering. From afar I was witnessing the descent of a country where I had spent most of the 1980s into political and economic chaos.
After awhile I began to realize what was happening in Zimbabwe was not only a struggle about land and political power, it was a struggle over history. Two competing paradigms were vying for hegemony. Robert Mugabe and his inner circle were advancing what Professor Terence Ranger, would later term “patriotic history.” This vision laid all problems of Zimbabwe past and present at the doorstep of British imperialismwith white Rhodesians occupying a special category of surrogate oppressor. Patriotic history constituted a unifying cry, an attempt to capture public memory and divert the attention of Zimbabweans from any authoritarianism, corruption, and divisions along ethnic or class lines. Patriotic history’s “them and us” clearly delineated the fault lines and papered over any curiosity aroused by the memories of individuals who had suffered at the hands of the Fifth Brigade or those who quietly watched their children starve while political leaders drove by in their BMWs.
On the opposite pole, the seizure of white-owned farms by the Mugabe government prompted a resurrection of colonialist history. The few Western media reports I saw pictured beleaguered white farmers under attack by unrelenting, unreasoning Africans. These accounts typically portrayed whites as innocent victims in this process, a well-intentioned minority who had built up the country during Rhodesia days and subsequently joined hands with black compatriots in reconciliation after independence, only to be reviled and dispossessed. Though I only heard of them peripherally, memoirs...Read more
Fri, May 4 2012 » Creative Writing, History, Zimbabwe Review » 2 Comments
By Kuziwakwashe Zigomo
Zimbabwe’s years of economic mismanagement and political instability, especially in the last decade of the Zimbabwe Crisis, have had catastrophic effects on the national economy, much of which has left many of its once-vibrant sectors and industries significantly depleted (Kamidza 2009: 6). The formation of the GNU has since brought some stability to the economy, particularly through the implementation of the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme that helped reduce rapid inflation levels as well as ensure the provision of basic commodities (though largely imported) that were scarce before. However, despite these improvements, many vital sectors such as health and education are still functioning well below their optimum capacity (Nkomo 2011). As a result, Zimbabwe continues to hang in the balance and the current government is struggling to develop sustainable policy alternatives to address the problems and challenges of the past.
For the country to move forward, Zimbabweans will need to harness their collective energy to rebuild Zimbabwe. Because of its close links to the people and the communities, Zimbabwe’s civil society, in particular, has an important role in mobilising communities for the sustainable economic reconstruction and development of the country. Currently, Zimbabwe’s civil society sector has not done much to mobilise Zimbabweans for the social and economic reconstruction of the country. There are two main reasons for this; firstly, due to their extensive focus on political advocacy at the expense of economic and social advocacy and secondly, due to the underdeveloped nature of Zimbabwean civil society resulting from years of state repression and the economic crisis that eroded the organisational capacity of civics. This paper discusses the various strategies that can be adopted by civics to mobilize communities for Zimbabwe’s national reconstruction and sustainable development
Click here to download full article.
Rights reserved: Please credit the author, and Solidarity Peace Trust, as the original source for all material republished on other websites unless otherwise specified. Please provide a link back to http://www.solidaritypeacetrust.org
This article can be cited in other publications as follows: Zigomo, K. (2012) ‘A Community-Based Approach to Sustainable Development: The Role of Civil...Read more
Sun, April 1 2012 » Development, Zimbabwe Review » 1 Comment
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)
By Busani Mpofu
The World Bank estimated urban poverty in Zimbabwe in 1990/91 to be 12 percent while the 1995 Poverty Assessment Study found urban poverty to be 39 percent. In January 2009, Save the Children estimated that 10 out of 13 million Zimbabweans, over 75 percent of the population, were living in ‘desperate poverty.’ In April 2010, UNICEF noted that 78 percent of Zimbabweans were “absolutely poor” and 55 percent of the population, (about 6.6 million) lived under the food poverty line while New Zimbabwe estimated that more than 65 percent of Zimbabweans lived below the poverty datum line in December 2009. Recently, commentators have argued that it is very clear that poverty is increasing in the country. The sense we get from the above statistics is that some agencies have defined certain percentages of Zimbabweans as poor, below some abstractly conceived poverty lines. The statistics, however, do not tell us how long those poor people have existed in poverty conditions or the historical and social dimensions of people’s understandings of poverty-what it is to ‘be poor.’
This article attempts to tackle some perceptions about poverty in Zimbabwe, partly addressing the issue of the changing understandings of what being ‘poor’ has meant to those perceived as poor. Drawing from the experiences of the urban poor, I also attempt to explore historical and social dimensions of people’s understandings of poverty-what it is to ‘be poor’. This is partly because what people do for themselves, as poverty alleviation strategies, presumably turns crucially on how they understand their own circumstances (rather than on whether the state or some other agency defines them as poor or not). Inevitably, the centrality of unemployment as the main cause of poverty featured high among urban Africans during the colonial period. The conception of unemployment, however, appeared to have changed in the post-colonial era especially after 2000 when some professional jobs like teaching began to be associated with poverty.
Perceptions on identifying poverty, its causes and solutions as perceived by the poor themselves, politicians, planners, practitioners, academics and outsiders vary considerably. Other scholars have contended that the problem of...Read more
Fri, September 16 2011 » Essays, Zimbabwe Review » Leave a comment