Civil Society’s Contested Role in the 2013 Elections in Zimbabwe: A Historical Perspective

This article is a critical and historical assessment of the contribution of
Zimbabwe’s bourgeoning civil society to the restructuring of political
and social relations in post-colonial Zimbabwe. The general objective is to
contribute to the debate about how Zimbabwe’s post-colonial civil society
has theorised about change and, importantly, the deeply contested nature
of the agency that this has generated. The article concentrates on how civil
society structured itself and acted before the elections on 31 July 2013, which
the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF)
‘won resoundingly’. What emerges is that while the economic despair of the
1990s and the breakdown in the national consensus mobilised an almost
‘popular democratic front’ this changed course in the subsequent decade,
weakening the ‘popular’ and ‘democratic’ nature of civil society agency.
The foundation of ‘liberal rights’ and ‘democracy’ and ‘good governance’
powerfully amalgamated in the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
and the ‘No Vote’ in 2000 became theoretically feeble and revealed a
debilitating post-colonial impasse – an interregnum during which an
urban-based intelligentsia-led theorisation and agency was momentarily
checkmated by a violent nationalist authoritarianism.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: Environmental Management Agency, MDC-T, Robert Mugabe, Tendai Biti, ZANU-PF
journal of african elections vol13 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa