Three paths to instability in Zimbabwe



Zimbabwean authorities this week imposed restrictions on the import of a range of goods, from bottled water to fertilizers and canned beans, while local businesses complain of not being able to pay suppliers, The Financial Times reports:

The currency crisis is indicative of the dire state of the economy under the regime of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s veteran president, which is desperate to reopen credit lines with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Zimbabwe is one of 109 countries in which civil society freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly have been under serious attack in 2015, according to a new report from CIVICUS. The country’s civil society groups have also begun to mobilize in anticipation of intra-elite conflict over Mugabe’s succession.

A Council on Foreign Relations Contingency Planning Memorandum (CPM) by Ambassador George F. Ward describes the potential for political instability and violence in Zimbabwe, outlining three paths to instability in Zimbabwe:

  • President Robert Mugabe’s death before an appointed successor is installed;
  • a serious challenge to Mugabe’s control driven by increased factionalism; and
  • an economic crisis triggering demand for political change.

The memo also offered three corresponding “warning indicators”:

  • any sign that Mugabe’s health is in decline;
  • indication of increased dissent or infighting within the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF); and
  • public unrest.

Members of various church organizations, under the banner of the Prayer Network of Zimbabwe, staged a peaceful demonstration in Harare on Monday (right) demanding the resignation of Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora over the government’s introduction of the national pledge in schools, VOA adds:

The churches argue that the pledge violates their right to freedom of worship. The more than 100 members of the Prayer Network of Zimbabwe gathered in central Harare urging Dokora to leave office within two days for imposing the national pledge on their children.

In 2018, Zimbabweans will take to the polls in their country’s next general election. Though elections are a form of democratic process, this tool has not historically given Zimbabwean women a public voice. Although they comprise 50 percent of the youth population, young women and girls experience political exclusion, poverty, violence, disease, and economic disempowerment disproportionate to their numbers. Opportunities that would enable women to participate and lead in politics, business, civil society, cultural activities, and religious spaces would go a long way in improving their overall quality of life and ensuring that decisions made at the local and regional levels take their needs into account.

In a forthcoming presentation to the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy, Zimbabwean women’s rights advocate Nyaradzo Mashayamombe (left) will discuss the state of young women’s political participation in her country, describe how her organization, Tag A Life International, is empowering girls and communities to combat structural and societal norms, and offer recommendations to the international community for promoting gender equality and democratization in Zimbabwe. Her presentation will be followed by comments by Natalie Kay, assistant program officer for Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy.

Preparing a New Generation of Women Leaders in Zimbabwe

Thursday, July 7, 2016 from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM (EDT)

Washington, DC


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