Zimbabwe economic failure will trigger repression

via Zimbabwe economic failure will trigger repression December 26, 2013

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party gained a two-thirds majority in parliament and captured the presidency in the July 31 elections.

The polls, tainted by rigging and systematic disenfranchisement allegations, marked the culmination of a four-year uneasy coalition in which Mugabe’s party shared power with opposition MDC formations.

The power sharing government, also unfittingly referred to as the government of national unity (GNU), was born out of a protracted political negotiation process led by Sadc, a regional bloc that brings together 15 countries sharing a common history and geography.

Prior to the political settlement that gave birth to the coalition government in 2009, Zimbabwe was engulfed in a vortex of state-sponsored violence that saw thousands of opposition supporters brutally attacked and tens of thousands more internally displaced. In a move that divided regional and international opinion, Mugabe had also unleashed violence on white farmers whose land he confiscated for ostensible distribution to landless blacks dispossessed of their birthright during colonialism.

As his popularity waned and he faced growing opposition in the late 1990s, Mugabe launched a brutal attack on his opponents and also enacted several draconian laws to silence his opponents. A law was passed to muzzle the press and journalists perceived as critical were jailed. Another law banned political meetings and several opposition and civil society meetings were violently broken up as political activists were locked up.

In March 2007, pictures of Tsvangirai, whose head had been bludgeoned by the police, shocked the world prompting Sadc to initiate dialogue between Mugabe and the opposition.

Masterminded by then South African president Thabo Mbeki, the political pact that gave birth to the power-sharing government cited the creation of conditions for free and equal political participation as one of the main objectives of the government.

Many Zimbabweans hoped repressive laws that were reminiscent of colonial subjugation would be repealed to allow citizens to freely participate effectively in political, social and economic processes. To their disappointment, the new government made very little progress as Mugabe and his party used their control of strategic ministries to block legislative and institutional reforms. Efforts by the opposition to have the laws repealed or amended were resisted and by the time Mugabe called elections in July, the same laws that had existed before the GNU were used to deny the MDC free and equal political participation.

Amid serious bickering and resistance by Zanu PF elements in the power-sharing government, a new constitution with an expanded bill of rights was adopted, but it was never implemented in time to change the culture of impunity and lawlessness that existed. Many citizens were shocked that the MDC parties agreed to go to elections in the absence of meaningful legislative reform following the adoption of the new constitution.

What made the situation even worse was the fact that state institutions like the judiciary and the electoral commission had been militarised as Mugabe deployed serving and retired security personnel to run them.

In a chilling repeat of the electoral quagmire of 2008, members of the security establishment, traditional leaders and Zanu PF officials subjected millions of voters to a campaign of subtle intimidation and manipulation.

Mugabe’s election strategists reasoned that overt perpetration of violence would bring unwarranted international attention on Zimbabwe, so they devised a plan to harvest from the fear of 2008 without necessarily having to resort to beating or murdering MDC activists and supporters. They deployed traditional leaders (traditional chiefs and headmen) to “educate” citizens who were ordered to “vote wisely”, a euphemism for voting for Mugabe and Zanu PF, or the violence of 2008 would return. Soldiers and police officers were also deployed to “educate” voters and again they reminded villagers there would be a repeat of 2008 if they voted for the opposition.

Those that were perceived as hardcore MDC supporters were instructed to feign illiteracy so that they would be assisted to vote. As a result, thousands of voters, including well-trained teachers and nurses, were “assisted” to vote, as they feared for their lives. The strategy paid off as Mugabe and his party swept all the rural districts to claim a resounding victory in the election.

Now that Mugabe is firmly in charge, there are fears that he will close political space to maintain his grip on power. The signs are there already. He has largely ignored implementing the new constitution and has only implemented the sections that are innocuous to his power base. Where new institutions that are supposed to provide checks and balances have been created, he has packed them with his yes-men.

The economy is going to be the biggest test of his tenacity and its collapse will spur more repression by a desperate regime. As the year comes to an end, all the indicators are pointing to more misery for citizens. While the African Union and Sadc have endorsed Mugabe’s victory, the European Union and the United States have refused to recognise his government. His continued isolation has resulted in the government failing to access much-needed lines of credit and this has pushed the economy to the brink. China has backed Mugabe politically, but has not provided the financial support that he desperately needs.

Mugabe will face rising citizen despondency and he is likely to respond the same way he did in the late 1990s when the economy went off the rails. He will become more repressive and Zimbabwean citizens will once again bear the brunt of his brutality. The Zimbabwe Independent last week reported government had acquired new equipment for the security sector, now playing a critical role in propping up Mugabe and Zanu PF in power, which includes anti-riot gear and equipment, trucks and armored vehicles.

The few gains made under the inclusive government will be reversed as Mugabe’s government closes political space. Whether he will succeed in suppressing popular discontent and possible protests by hungry citizens remains to be seen.

Mangongera is a Zimbabwean researcher. He is currently a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington DC. He writes in his personal capacity.

The Zimbabwe Independent

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14 comments on “Zimbabwe economic failure will trigger repression
  1. munzwa says:

    Brace yourself Zimbabwe…

  2. Khaya'bonina says:

    The writer Mangonagera is day dreaming while down there at Washington , Zimbabwe’s economy will revive soon , even though being sanctioned by the westerns ,it makes me happy to see organisations like UN working together with us , USA is also very supportive , these organisations are ready to contribute funds to our sectors , eg for agriculture purposes . I am against the writer , these are speculations from him , Zimbabwe is building trust and working together with the international community , slowly but surely the country will be out of this ludicrous situation .

    • DANDARO says:

      Keep hallucinating. People are not just being pessimistic to spite the ruling party, but it’s the economy stupid prevailing and the stupid economic policies by the clueless ruling elite. They think they are fixing the whites, the west or whoever their imaginary enemies are, but for crying out aloud they are impoverishing Zimbabweans and destroying our Zimbabwe irrepairably.

      • Fallenz says:

        Are you deranged, delusional, institutionalized, or a paid Mugabeite? With the truth so very obvious, with the facts staring at you, you deny it all. Are we talking about the same Zimbabwe? Do you not see the hate and lies of ZANUPF? Do you not see the theft of freedom? Do you not see the hunger of the people while the ZANUPF bigwigs lavish themselves with millions in stolen wealth? How is it I am overwhelmed by these things that you do not see? I can not help but wonder how such a mind as yours works. How does one become so callous toward truth?

        You decry the bushy school… I suggest you go and actually live among the people, and see. Read the sanctions, and then explain how you think travel restrictions against Grace has so devastated the Zim economy. Your privilege has blinded you, while the people, the economy, and freedom suffer. Pirates have taken Zim, and demand ransom while they hold the people hostage. Where did the diamond money go, where did all the aid funds disappear to, why are the polling records still hidden, why is there no justice in the courts… and the questions go on and on.

        We now see that in the war, Zim was seen as a prize to gut, not as a freedom to win… and is now ruled by thieves who care nothing about the people. Are you with them, or are you with the people? It’s time for you to face truth, look within, and answer that question.

    • Jrr56 says:

      There are always some that never see the light and with Mugabe and his gang of merry thieves the light will never be seen at the end of the tunnel. The author is realistic and as the economy dives under these kleptocrats repression will rear its ugly head. That anyone can utter sanctions and US aid in the same breath is an ey eopener. The only ludicrous situation today is that Mugabe was allowed to steal yet another election!

    • furedi says:

      Something is not right with you khaya bonina.First you mention sanctions the you say the same people are helping.So this tale about sanctions is a lie.

    • Parangeta says:

      Shame, shame, shame you fool. Sanction where! UN and USA support where! Contributions where! What a twat to say that Zimbabwe will soon be out of the sh–t, get a Life!

  3. tino says:

    Khaya bonina you need to take blinkers fromyour eyes.Zimbabwe is not Harare.If you see a little informal trading don’t think all is fine.Mhangura, Kamativi, Mvuma, Peak Mine are now ghost towns.If you go there you will not talk rubbish like what you talk.We have people desperate for food.They will sell you donkey meat , like in Mhangura.Baboon meat in Shurungi.The picture is so sad .It is people like you who will be ridiculed by your own children.In 2050 school children will refuse history lessens.They will say”How can you tell us one person ruined the country for 15 straight years?Where were the people?”
    If you have food , which you might choose daily,be grateful.Bit remember the thousands who are 365 days hungry.If you have high hopes for AU, then you are probably a laymen, grade 6 , never wrote national examination.You were exposed to local examination where you are asked the name of the mountain in the village.
    Never support starvation, brutality and gross human rights abuse.Cholera is killing people and still you say people of Zimbabwe are prosperous?

  4. Johnson@yahoo.com says:

    ZIMBABWEANS SUFFER BECAUSE OF GREED AND SELFISHNESS PLUS A PERENNIAL COMPLACENCY BORDERING ON STUPIDITY. ANYONE CAN DO WHATEVER SHE WISHES WITH THEM. THEY SUFFER IN SILENCE. CHOLERA CAME AND DECIMATED THEM. ELECTIONS WERE RIGGED MANY TIMES. MBEKI IS REFUSING WITH THE REPORT OF RIGGED ELECTIONS. THERE ARE NO COURTS. THE POLICE HAS BECOME A MAFIA. POLITICS HAS DESTROYED FAMILIES. MURDER IS ALLOWED. CORRUPTION HAS METASTASIZED. SCHOOL AND JAIL ARE THE SAME. THERE IN NO MONEY, NO JOBS, NO SANITY. ON ATTORNEY GENERAL BUT NERO. THERE IS IMPUNITY AND ABUSE. NO FREEDOM, NO HAPPINESS. WHAT A CURSE. ELECTIONS OBVIOUSLY DONT WORK HERE. SMITH HAD A ONE MAN TWO VOTES FOR HIS WHITES. ZANU PF HAS A ONE MAN NO VOTE IN FAVOUR OF ITS ELITE. SO WHO IS BETTER HERE. IF WE WENT TO WAR AGAINST SMITH FOR THAT..WHAT OF THIS.WOE TO YOU PEACEFUL PPLE.AMEN

  5. Khaya'bonina says:

    @Tino , it is not about opposing my views , have your facts and i will highly respect you in that way , don’t loose the direction my brother . Debate with facts , grow up , unfortunately abusive language might be what you learnt and achieved from your bushy school , i might be a grade six its fine , but at least i have got mutual respect.

    Do something to improve the situation of our country , what is your contribution apart from opposing ??????

    • Khaya the point is Zimbabwe continues to go backwards whilst promises are made and broken wily nily. There might be some in Zunu pf that want to move forward but they are out numbered by the Vultures. Why do you think there is so much faction fighting within Zanu pf?

  6. yoyo says:

    Khaya,the resaons why Tino was angry is because you are behaving like the ZANU elite, talking of sanctions and blaming the West, telling us the writer is daydreaming.You started it , so expect any reaction if you tell people falkstories.People are frustrated with AU which endorses clearly stolen elections.Today you leant a lessen , dont just support a system because you are living good.Think for the greater good.The AU you say is supporting Zim, has no monen ideas to solve African problems.South Sudan is on the brink of civil war and you say AU .Herald online does not accept comments critical to ZANU, but here its a democratic online media where you throw punches in the face and get four in return.

    • Fallenz says:

      .
      Yes sir…! Wisely said.

      You have spoken well… whether you respond to a naive child of privilege, or to a smug Mugabeite pretending to be an innocent youth.

      Truth can not be long hidden from inquiring minds.

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