Mugabe anxious about external legitimacy

via Mugabe anxious about external legitimacy — Nehanda Radio  SEPTEMBER 24, 2013

The MDC has been pressing for the de-legitimisation of President Robert Mugabe and his regime after the disputed election in July. Last week, the MDC boycotted the opening of Parliament charging Mugabe is an “illegitimate president”.

However, efforts to strip him of legitimacy do not seem to have sufficient or any traction. The discourse on political and governmental legitimacy is often discussed in the context of internal and external legitimacy.

International relations are replete with situations where a government is deemed legitimate by some States and illegitimate by others. Mugabe’s domestic legitimacy has barely been challenged. Instead, in recent weeks he and his regime have focused on the quest for external recognition.

True, a correlation exists between internal and external legitimacy. Ideally, States ought to legitimise regimes recognised by domestic populations. However, the MDC’s own indiscretions have made Mugabe’s de-legitimisation locally and externally, difficult.

For example, participating in an election with all indications of potential manipulation and flaws elections was disingenuous. Participation legitimises the election.

Challenging the legitimacy of outcome is much more difficult, particularly in Zimbabwe, and Africa where leaders and regional bodies have set very low electoral standards. Post-election events suggest domestic legitimacy of Mugabe’s regime is intact.

As noted, the absence of spontaneous mass reaction or sustained protest after what the opposition believes was a massively rigged election means Mugabe’s domestic legitimacy is unchallenged in any meaningful or effective way.

The Arab Spring raised the bar in responses to illegitimate leadership. In the absence of popular agitation, the West will probably now be questioning whether Mugabe is indeed domestically illegitimate.

The MDC MPs will take their seats in Parliament, save for inconsequential boycotts here and there. Furthermore, the MDC recently appointed a shadow Cabinet, a move that has been read as recognition of the Mugabe regime.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, said Mugabe is a “reality” he could not ignore. Collectively, these internal conditions favour Mugabe quest for external legitimacy.

His recent remarks suggest he yearns for such external recognition. During the opening of Parliament boycotted by the MDC, Mugabe stated: “On the diplomatic front, we will continue to redouble efforts in promoting the political and economic interests and image of Zimbabwe in the region and beyond.

“We indeed stand ready to work even with those who even before were at odds with us, our detractors.”

Notably, the tone has changed. His lieutenants too have been expressing a desire for external legitimacy.

Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo said: “We have even said that let us return to normalcy in terms of our relations with the West, but they seem to be not quite certain of what to do.”

Similarly, Chris Mutsvangwa, the new deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, pointed out: “We are very anxious that we quickly build our relations with them. We will spare no effort in exploring all avenues at improving our relations with the traditional partners in the European Union and in Washington.”

These sentiments indicate that the Mugabe regime is now “anxious” about external legitimacy. However, such anxiety is contradicted by a lack of diplomatic tact. Mugabe’s public posturing against the US and the West does not augur well for normalisation of relations.

He might want to take a leaf from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who has opted for moderation rather than confrontation. He calls it “constructive engagement.”

Iran, under sanctions too, is obviously not a darling of the US and the West. Rouhani successor to belligerent Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, has thus set out to repair relations. Before going to the UN General Assembly in New York, Rouhani, addressed the American people directly.

The White House hinted a meeting Rouhani and President Obama is possible. Whatever his motives, Rouhani has adopted a pragmatic approach. Not threatened by a passive domestic opposition now doubted by its external allies, Mugabe has a chance to secure external legitimacy.

However, Mugabe’s quest for external legitimacy rests in constructive re-engagement rather than grandstanding. He can leave the political scene with Zimbabwe a full member of the community of nations. Such external legitimacy comes with national benefits.



  • comment-avatar
    imvi dzechembere 11 years ago

    Zvikomo zvinopanana mhute.

  • comment-avatar
    Macon Pane 11 years ago

    Printing ballots and announcing polling stations does not a democracy make. Democracy requires an informed, uninhibited electorate participating in legitimate free choice… one man, one vote. Democracy requires a free press, answering only to the truth, rather than to the government. Democracy requires allowing for opposition and dissident voices. Democracy requires no interference with checks and balances designed to insure honest representation and administration. Democracy requires candidates with a mind to serve the people, rather than to be served. Democracy requires leaders who recognize, on some level, that they must answer to a power greater than themselves. Democracy requires voter rolls available for scrutiny. Democracy requires much more than being able to spell it. Yes, African leaders have set the bar for electoral standards very low… does anyone dare question why? Perhaps those leaders think democracy too complicated for their people… or too restrictive on their own power and the growth of their own pocketbooks. No matter who the leader, when Zimbabwe becomes a true democracy, then it will return to become prosperous and join the international community as a legitimate contributor, and the Zim people will be free and proud, productive and self reliant. Workers would receive a fair wage for a fair day’s labor, and small business was encouraged, and even enticed to expand, and modernize to gain efficiencies to serve their clientele.better…. without fear of government agents coming to confiscate the enterprise or tax it out of existence,

    Is this too much of a utopia for Africans to hope for.. Too much a pipe dream? It’s simple reality in other nations that began much like Zimbabwe,,, why can it not be for Africa?

    I’d like to hear some legitimate debate regarding that concept… not whine, not spin, not the ZANU drivel, but real ideas on which a real consensus can be built. Perhaps, that consensus could become a building block, or even the cornerstone, of new thought and a new direction and a new and realistic goal for the lovely Zim folks.

    What are.your thoughts?

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      supermondo 11 years ago

      with Mugabe and zanu we are dealing with people with no morals or dignity,, re voting in the future design a perfect way to vote freely and fairly ,use this design as a template and do not enter into an election that is open to state fraud,if they are doing anything unacceptable before an election then say no ,,if mdc had pulled out say july 24th Mugabe and zanu and the big rig was fukced.nikuv was well fked and would not get paid.

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    munzwa 11 years ago

    yes i agree with the above, mugabe does not have the internal legitimacy the writer talks about, if zanu were comfortable with their “win” then why not repeal POSA etc. The talk of dealing with corruption is only window dressing

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    jenandebvu 11 years ago

    Un-informed writer. Internal legitimacy does not require soldiers and policy to threaten demostrators or would it influency or deter legal processes around a stolen election. It ll go down in histrory that mdc boycotted the opening ceremony of parliament following illegitimate election. The market is already freezing following illegitimate election. Deposits slowed down, inflation peaked up, GDP slowed down, AIPPA ne POSA re-inforced as well as 75% local content. These are signs of not wanting the truth about what transpired in the election to come out. I SURELY tell you, kana museve voda nyama, unoenda voga

  • comment-avatar
    Twinn 11 years ago

    When people are targeted, discriminated against, or oppressed over a period of time, they often internalize (believe and make part of their self-image – their internal view of themselves) the myths and misinformation that society communicates to them about their group. Exploited peasants might internalize the ideas that they can’t do any other kind of work, that their lives were meant to be as they are, and that they’re worth less than people with wealth or education. Women might internalize the stereotype that they are not good at math and science, or people of color might internalize the myth that they are not good workers.When people from targeted groups internalize myths and misinformation, it can cause them to feel (often unconsciously) that in some way they are inherently not as worthy, capable, intelligent, beautiful, good, etc. as people outside their group. They turn the experience of oppression or discrimination inward. They begin to feel that the stereotypes and misinformation that society communicates are true and they act as if they were true. This is called internalized oppression. Being a member of cultural group can be a source of strength. Our cultures often give us our values, our sense of ourselves in history, our humor, our identities, and our world views. We depend on our cultures to provide us with a community, a reference point, a home, and a place to get our bearings and remember what is important to us.When people take a stand against injustice and oppression it can be a strong antidote to internalized oppression. Taking charge of an unjust situation and setting it right goes miles in healing people from the oppression and injustice they have endured over time.

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    adam jones 11 years ago

    Mugabe has no internal legimacy. The populace has been cowed into submission. Thats not legitimacy – its called oppression. Now moyo wants to re-engage with the west? How supprising? zanu wants to engage with ‘our traditional partners’? what traditional partners are they on about? There is now a scramble for our marange diamonds and that is the only reason why the west will look the other way and ‘recognise’ mugabe – so that they too can deep their fingers into the diamong jar. not political legitimacy but diamond and urenium legitimacy.