2023 journal of african elections v22n2 eisa transparent democratic governance in africa

Déjà vu With Difference: A Gramscian Interpretation of Zimbabwe’s 2023 Elections and their Pasts

Violence – ranging from barely detectable to genocidal to coups and post-coup mêlées – has marred most if not all of Zimbabwe’s elections since its 1980 birth. Electoral brutality has been almost normalised since Zimbabwe’s first meaningful opposition, coupled with the ‘fast track’ land reform-inspired crises, accompanied the millennium’s turn. This article suggests that elections are signposts of what Antonio Gramsci might have considered the balance of coercion and consent during the long interregna between colonialism and an uncertain end. Evidence from Zimbabwe’s 2023 election and its predecessors illustrates the changing techniques between the coercion/consent poles as ZANU-PF’s leaders gain and maintain power along the rocky road to an unknown destination.

journal of african elections vol21 number 2 1 transparent democratic governance in africa

Some are Empty Shells without Groundnuts: Social Construction of Female Political Candidates in Urban Masvingo, Zimbabwe

In view of the low levels of women’s representation in political office in Zimbabwe after the 2018 elections, questions arise regarding whether young people can, or will support female candidates in future elections. The youth is seen as a critical group that may shape the future of politics in Zimbabwe. We conducted a qualitative study to explore the views young people have of female political candidates, through focus group discussions and indepth interviews with participants aged between 19 and 24 in the city of Masvingo. Drawing on social constructionism, poststructuralist feminism, and intersectionality analyses, the study found that young people in urban Masvingo have a predominantly negative perception of female candidates, although this is mediated by factors such as gender, class, sexuality, disability, and education. Nonetheless, some of the youth in Masvingo appear to be redefining or countering gendered societal norms and values, as they appear to accept women as political candidates.

journal of african elections vol21 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa

Zimbabwe’s post-2000 elections: More hotly Contested yet less Democratic than in the Past

This article investigates Zimbabwe’s post-2000 elections, why they have been more hotly contested than previously, and whether they have been undemocratic. The post-2000 period marked what is arguably the most turbulent phase in the electoral history of the country since independence in 1980, and Zimbabwe’s elections were de facto degraded, becoming a means of sustaining incumbents in power. The paper asserts that Zimbabwe’s elections are mainly a front for hoodwinking both the electorate and observers. They are not used to provide for the free expression of the will of the people, but to endorsethe incumbents rather than effectively challenge them. To this extent, they are manipulated to produce a pre-determined outcome confirming the current leaders, irrespective of their performance. Supported by empirical data from interviews and primary sources together with statistical records from electoral institutions such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT), and Afrobarometer, the article concludes that elections are mainly for show, to entrench the incumbents.

journal of african elections vol20 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa

The Rural Electorate in Zimbabwe’s Elections 1980-2018: Consciousness and Voting Preferences

This article analyses rural electorate consciousness and urban voting
preferences during Zimbabwe’s elections from 1980 to 2018. The article gives
agency to the rural dwellers in elections, contrary to the general perception
of a captured rural voter and liberal urban voter. To analyse rural voters’
electoral consciousness, the paper uses primary sources (electoral statistical
records), oral interviews (notwithstanding the prevailing COVID-19
lockdown environment) and secondary literature to derive research data. The
data helps to determine the differences between urban and rural ideologies,
culture and ethics which manifest in the political party preferences of the
social groups in the two geographical spaces. The paper concludes that rural
dwellers tended to support the ruling party at elections, though they were
more vulnerable to political patronage and seemingly forced participation
in electoral processes than the urban voters. Nonetheless, complex cultural,
economic, social and historic factors compelled them to participate in elections
more than their urban counterparts. Thus, rural voters can be viewed as
conscious participants in electoral processes with varied, albeit mobilised
participation and political ideologies.

journal of african elections vol20 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa

Zimbabwe’s 2018 Harmonised Elections: An Assessment of Credibility

Zimbabwe’s 2018 Harmonised Elections: An Assessment Of Credibility
This paper assesses the credibility of Zimbabwe’s 2018 harmonised elections
using an electoral cycle approach, arguing that the free expression of voters’
choice is a sine qua non for credibility. A study of Election Observer Missions’
reports (EOMs), media reports, and observation in relation to the 2018
elections, points to inadequate legal reforms; questionable independence and
impartiality of the Elections Management Body (EMB); media bias; partisan
distribution of aid; abuse of state resources; vote buying; partisan involvement
of traditional leaders and of the military; intimidation; and suspicious results
management. The paper concludes that the 2018 harmonised elections did
not pass the credibility test owing to the cumulative effect of structural
inadequacies. There is thus a need to comprehensively reform Zimbabwe’s
electoral laws, improve elections administration, and ensure a level playing
field for contestants by addressing the political environment within which
elections are held.

journal of african elections vol20 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa

Voting Rights of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora

The Constitution of Zimbabwe states that citizens who have reached the age
of 18 years may vote in local and national elections. However, the Electoral
Act states that only Zimbabwean citizens who are on diplomatic missions,
civil servants and members of the armed forces on external missions may vote
from abroad. This legal requirement effectively disenfranchises millions of
Zimbabwean citizens who live and work in other countries. Why the current
Zimbabwean authorities do not allow or enable their citizens to vote from
abroad in Zimbabwe’s national elections is contentious, especially ahead of
the 2023 general elections. This article uses the desktop approach to argue
that the right to vote in one’s country of origin by citizens working and living
abroad is a barometer of a nation’s deepening democratic practices, of which
elections are a lynchpin. This study hopes to contribute to international
human rights law. A study of voting from abroad contributes to discussions
regarding the evolving and multifaceted relationship between sending states
and their diaspora communities.

journal of african elections vol19 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa

Succession Politics and State Administration in Africa: The Case of Zimbabwe

The paper is a critical inquiry into the influence of succession politics on
state administration in Africa, with particular reference to Zimbabwe, and
unpacks the interactive boundaries and conceptual overlaps in this field.
This study was based on 18 qualitative in-depth interviews conducted with
key informants using the purposive sampling technique, complemented by
extensive document review. The findings of the study show that succession
politics in Africa includes executive dominance, egocentrism and excessive
appointive powers. These are compounded by the lack of an institutional
framework of succession, which in turn undermines the professional
independence of the bureaucracy and inhibits the pursuit of comprehensive
governance. The findings also isolate Zimbabwe as a victim of political,
societal and historical factors that exacerbate the succession dilemma. In its
recommendations, the paper argues that the succession challenge faced by the
continent, in particular Zimbabwe, will continue to hound succession trends
and responsive administration unless broad-based reforms are instituted to
dismantle the historical legacies embedded in the political systems.

journal of african elections vol19 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa

The Challenges and Opportunities of Web 2.0 Elections: The Case of Zimbabwe

This study analyses different perspectives of the challenges and opportunities of using Web 2.0 technology with specific reference to Zimbabwe’s 2018 general elections. It discusses digital tools and resources such as social networking sites (SNSs) and biometric voter registration (BVR) for the management of the voters’ roll. The study includes in-depth interviews with several politicians and ZEC officials to discuss the challenges and opportunities of Web 2.0 in Zimbabwe’s elections. Informed by theoretical concepts on technology and politics, the study establishes that technology is not a panacea but can be used as an apparatus. This study concludes that political institutions in Zimbabwe should reach consensus that the country will not conduct another election until electoral reforms are implemented because technology alone cannot overcome political challenges. Thus, the election monitoring body should be sufficiently credible to ensure a free and fair election.