JAE Volume 4 Number 2, October 2005
Special Issue on Zimbabwe's 2005 General Election

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Editors: Denis Kadima & Khabele Matlosa

Contributors: Peter Vale, Norman Mlambo, Sue Mbaya, Lloyd M Sachikonye, Choice Ndoro, Bertha Chiroro, Martin R Rupiya, Sehlare Makgelaneng

Key terms: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Democracy, Littoral, Political, Polarisation, Elections, Land, 2005, Parties, Persistent, Inequalities, Women, Role, National Youth Service/Militia, Parliamentary, Lessons, Movement for Democratic Change, Review, Zimbabwe: Injustice and Political Reconciliation..

South Africa and Zimbabwe: Democracy in the Littoral Zone

Peter Vale

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Professor Peter Vale holds the Nelson Mandela Chair of Politics at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. He is a Member of the South African Academy of Science and a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa Department of Political and International Studies, Rhodes University

ABSTRACT: Looking beyond routine explanations of the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, this paper examines mainstream understandings of Southern African politics and the language that produces them. It uses historical sociology to offer an alternative explanation of the development of the region and highlights the overlapping sources of authority that predated the state system. Drawing on the insightful poetry of Douglas Livingstone (and his own peregrinations in the region), the argument suggests that instead of an ontology based on state boundaries the region should be considered a 'littoral zone' in which authority and control move back and forth between different social bundles. Imaginative interpretations, rather than the 'weasel words' cult democracy, could help secure rights in Zimbabwe.

Moods Of Bitterness: How Political Polarisation has Influenced Zimbabwean Elections

Norman Mlambo

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Dr Mlambo is a Researcher and Head of the Peace and Security Research Unit at the Africa Institute of South Africa

ABSTRACT: Since 2000 elections in Zimbabwe have been characterised by bitter struggles, mainly between the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). In the 2000 parliamentary elections and the 2002 presidential elections these struggles became so violent that lives were lost on both sides, with the protagonists blaming each other for instigating the violence. Real and imagined violence became the language with which even the international community, especially the media, articulated the Zimbabwean crisis at the expense of other equally problematic issues such as the land question, the constitutional debate, economic and personal sanctions, drought and hunger, and poor political decisions by major players on both sides of the political divide. This paper argues that the violent character of the Zimbabwean crisis is a result of a general mood of bitterness that had been building up for decades prior to the current crisis. That mood is traceable to the brutality of the liberation struggle and the bitterness continued in the early 1980s with the Matebeleland crisis, whose violent suppression raised bitter ethnic questions. The mood continued to thicken with the militarisation of Zimbabwean politics when the war veterans entered the political fray especially after the February 2000 constitutional reform referendum. Although Zimbabwe has had a multi-party system since 1980, the real contribution of past political parties, civil society and the international community in Zimbabwe's democratic experiment has been lost in the rhetoric of violence of the last five years. The general mood of bitterness has made it impossible even for well meaning religious groups and concerned governments of neighbouring countries to negotiate a compromise political solution. Sections of the international media, human rights organisations and some Western diplomats, rather than helping to tone down the bitterness have increased tensions by employing the rhetoric of violence, even in the elections of March 2005, long after the conflicting parties had expressly and demonstrably abandoned violence.

Zimbabwe's Land Politics and the 2005 Elections

Sue Mbaya

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Sue Mbaya is Director of the Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN)

ABSTRACT: One hundred and fifteen years ago the Pioneer Column hoisted the Union Jack in Salisbury and took possession of all unoccupied land in the name of Queen Victoria, an act of conquest which ushered in close to 100 years of colonial domination of the people of the land by the British. Accordingly, access to and ownership of land has been an intrinsic part of the political discourse in Zimbabwe. Prior to independence land was a key driver of political change. This paper examines the key milestones of Zimbabwe's land reform process over the years to demonstrate how, during the post-independence era and culminating in the 2005 parliamentary elections, land has continued to have significant value with respect to political dominance and capital.

Political Parties and the 2005 Elections in Zimbabwe

Lloyd M Sachikonye

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Professor LIoyd Michael Sachikonye is a Senior Research Fellow/Lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, the Institute of Development Studies

ABSTRACT: Parties play a crucial role in elections for they reflect the configuration of political power in the contestation for state control. Political parties constitute an important medium for citizens' participation in the political process during and between elections. How have parties fared in the context of the Zimbabwe political situation, in particular during the 2005 elections? Although the 2005 elections were as tightly contested as those of 2000 and 2002, there was a remarkable difference between them. The environment during the campaign of 2005 was peaceful, compared with the political violence and mayhem that accompanied the 2000 and 2002 elections. A new element built into the framework of the election campaign was the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, a framework with which SADC member states were enjoined to comply. Another significant factor was the Zimbabwe Government's strategy of restricting the number and variety of observer missions that would be allowed to witness the election. This paper will not attempt to assess the 2005 election process as a whole but will concentrate on the role of political parties in the contest. Significantly, a major difference from previous elections was the reduction in the number of parties that contested the elections.

The Politics of the 2005 Parliamentary Elections in Zimbabwe

Choice Ndoro

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Choice Ndoro is a member of the Department of Politics and Administration at the University of Zimbabwe

ABSTRACT: The political and legal framework governing the 2005 parliamentary elections played a significant role in determining the freeness and fairness of the elections. The repressive legislation and partisan institutions put in place to govern the previous two elections were perpetuated, with new names, new personalities and invigorated allegiance to the ruling party. The continued use of repressive institutions and legislation appears to stem from the ruling party's insecurity and its desire to maintain its hegemonic position. The establishment of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing the Conduct of Democratic Elections was both a timely and welcome development for civil society organisations and human rights activists. The government of Zimbabwe responded by selectively applying critical tenets of the guidelines. Undoubtedly there was a relative reduction in state-organised violence but repressive legislation designed to favour the ruling party was not dismantled. New but partisan electoral bodies were appointed to manage the elections and there was rampant and excessive executive interference in the operations of the electoral bodies. As a result the manner in which the delimitation process was conducted compromised the electoral result. The media were biased throughout the campaign period, only improving a few days before the poll. The voters' roll was a shambles, with names duplicated or omitted and including the names of deceased or nonexistent voters The announcement of the results in the absence of political party representatives raised suspicions about their validity. Civil society organisations and opposition political parties dismissed as a fraud an election that must be characterised as flawed - it was free but not fair.

Persistent Inequalities: Women and Electoral Politics in the Zimbabwe Elections in 2005

Bertha Chiroro

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Bertha Chiroro is a Kellogg Foundation PhD Fellow and a Researcher at EISA

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the 2005 elections in Zimbabwe in the context of persistent gender inequalities that have existed since 1980. These inequalities have been exacerbated by an entrenched patriarchal culture and an electoral system that neither facilitates nor adds value to the increased representation and participation of women. The 31 March 2005 parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe were held amid profound struggles and disagreements over how best to change the formal political machinery. At the same time, struggles by the opposition to broaden and deepen political, economic and civil rights had intensified. Within this same struggle for democratisation the women's movement has defined itself by a liberal human rights based agenda and has waged the struggle at two levels. The first is the level of a feminist consciousness, where women have fought a war against patriarchy since 1980, through a critique of discriminatory legislation and demands for committed measures to increase women's political representation. The second is at the oppositional level, where some women's groups in alliance with other civil society organisations and opposition political parties have challenged the state and the legitimacy of the ZANU-PF rulers and the lack of a free participatory environment. A reflection on the results of the 2005 elections shows that women have not won these two battles. Patriarchy still remains entrenched in political institutions and political parties. A culture that uncritically accepts the need for women as political leaders does not exist. The under representation of women in Zimbabwe has been so stark since 1980 that the injustice seems beyond question. When women occupy a mere 16 per cent of the seats in Parliament, it should be clear that there is something unsatisfactory in the current political arrangements or in the electoral system.

An examination of the Role of the National Youth Service/Militia in Zimbabwe and its Effect on the Electoral Process, 2001-2005

Martin R Rupiya

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Dr Martin R Rupiya is Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies

ABSTRACT: What explains the re-emergence of the National Youth Service/Militia, launched in Zimbabwe in August 2001? This paper argues that, amid the intense political struggle between the ruling party and a largely worker- and urban-society-based political opposition, there was an urgent need to have in place a cheap and available institution that could be relied upon both to toe the party line religiously and to execute state supported extra-legal activities, including violence. The institution, drawn from the country's earlier political history, was the Zimbabwe Peoples' Militia, now reincarnated as the National Youth Service (NYS). This assertion is supported by the role and function of the NYS, deployed to 'police' the results of Operation Murambatsvina, the forced removal of the poor from the country's urban centres, which has been universally condemned, even by the African Union. However, if this analysis is correct, post-crisis Zimbabwe will be faced with the challenge of having to put down the NYS, a situation similar to what happened in Malawi, towards the end of the reign of the late Malawian President, Kamuzu Banda, and his Young Pioneers.

Zimbabwe's 2005 Parliamentary Elections: Lessons for the Movement for Democratic Change

Sehlare Makgetlaneng

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Dr Makgetlaneng is Head of Southern Africa Programme of Area Studies at the Africa Institute of South Africa

ABSTRACT: The paper analyses the theoretical and practical weaknesses of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition political party in Zimbabwe. To do justice to its struggle for political power, the MDC must wage a decisive war against these weaknesses, which are among the key reasons why it lost the March 2005 parliamentary elections and are important challenges it is facing in its struggle to defeat the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF). In focusing on these weaknesses the paper makes extensive use of the literature produced by critics of the ruling party. The paper maintains that the MDC has not recognised either in theory or in practice the strategic importance of mobilising for political, economic and ideological hegemony and has failed to provide comprehensive theoretical and practical alternatives to the ruling party as prerequisites for the realisation of its aim to replace it. As a result, the paper concludes, the MDC faces the danger of being reduced to exerting pressure upon the state of Zimbabwe and other Southern African countries for policy changes and victories which will not be sufficient for it either to achieve political power or to consolidate or expand these changes and victories.


Victor Shale

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Zimbabwe: Injustice and Political Reconciliation
Brian Raftopoulous and Tyrone Savage (eds)
Institute for Justice and Reconciliation