Zimbabwe in Transition: Reform and Reconstruction



A 2015 Contingency Planning Memorandum, “Political Instability in Zimbabwe,” highlighted the potential for violence in connection with leadership succession. And there are at least five areas of concern as Zimbabwe heads toward the inevitable presidential transition, notes Council on Foreign Relations analyst George F. Ward:

  • President Mugabe’s refusal to plan for a transition. The increasingly infirm Mugabe insists he will be a candidate in 2018 and continues to play factions within the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) off of each other.
  • Internal dissension in the ZANU-PF. Mugabe’s approach fosters ZANU-PF factionalism, which is the most likely potential source of political violence. Even though the support of most of the leaders of Zimbabwe’s security establishment would seem to give the Lacoste faction around Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa the upper hand over the G40 group supporting First Lady Grace Mugabe, it is impossible to predict the outcome of the intraparty struggle.
  • Failure of the political opposition to gain traction. The National Electoral Reform Agenda, the opposition umbrella group, formed out of an uneasy alliance between outcast ZANU-PF Vice President Joice Mujuru and perennial opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The former has encountered turbulence within her own breakaway party, and the latter is seriously ill. Genuine opposition unity remains elusive, and the question of who would be the alliance’s candidate for president remains unsettled. At least for now, political drama within the nascent alliance is more salient than the threat of widespread violence between the government and the opposition.
  • Continued economic decline. The former food-exporting country now depends on agricultural imports. Investment has dried up. Public servants, including members of the security forces, are not being paid on schedule. The shortage of hard currency led to the introduction of a pseudo-currency: U.S. dollar denominated “bond notes.” So far, the bond notes have declined modestly in value against the dollar. Should that deterioration turn into massive devaluation, an economic crisis could ensue.
  • Diminishing likelihood that Zimbabwe’s neighbors will help prevent violence. South Africa is currently distracted by its own political turmoil and the growth of economic populism. There have been troubling indications of authoritarian tendencies elsewhere in the subregion. In Zambia, for example, the leader of the political opposition has been jailed and charged with treason for allegedly failing to make way for the president’s motorcade. These factors have reduced but not eliminated the possibility that members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will act to limit violence during a succession crisis or to reestablish the rule of law post-Mugabe. RTWT

Zimbabwe in Transition: Reform and Reconstruction

Government officials, political parties, international and domestic NGOs and civil society, and policy experts will convene later this month to discuss Zimbabwe’s political and economic trajectory and international relations, Chatham House reports. This conference* is being held in partnership with SAPES Trust, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, and the National Endowment for Democracy.

A genuine democratic transition must take account of civil society activists like Glanis Changachirere (above), a representative of the World Youth Movement for Democracy:

Solidarity Center

Changachirere became involved in her crusade for women’s rights as a result of her strong desire to receive an education denied her during a difficult upbringing in Zimbabwe’s rural Mashonaland Central Province Defying the norms of a highly patriarchal society, she enrolled in university and joined the Student Representatives’ Council as the only woman. Incarcerated on several occasions because of her activism, in 2009 Glanis established the Institute for Young Women’s Development that aims at promoting sustainable livelihoods and enhanced participation of young women in socio-economic and political justice issues. She is experienced in non-profit organization and management, program coordination and implementation, social entrepreneurship, and communications and social media strategies – a body of work which earned her the National Endowment for Democracy‘s 2013 Democracy Award.  

*29 Jun 2017 – 13:00 to 30 Jun 2017 – 14:00 Rainbow Towers, Harare, Zimbabwe.

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