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Consolidating Democratic Governance in Southern Africa: Zimbabwe

Lloyd M. Sachikonye, Shingi Chawatama, Charles Mangongera, Norbert Musekiwa, Choice Ndoro



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Executive summary

To what degree has there been a process of democratic transition leading to democratic consolidation in Southern Africa? What are the prospects for the consolidation of democratic governance in individual Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries? This report seeks to address these seminal issues with particular reference to Zimbabwe. The conceptual point of departure is the problematic question of whether the political and socio-economic processes under way in Zimbabwe amount to a consolidation of democratic governance. In short, to what extent does the country conform to or deviate from the broad governance trends in the region?

The study consisted of both desk research and field surveys undertaken between October 2005 and March 2006. The field survey covered 40 experts distributed and drawn from the following sectors: central government, local government, civil society and academia. The respondents were drawn from both the public and private sectors. Both the library and field research probed into issues of representation and accountability, citizen participation, local governance, economic management and corporate governance.

The Zimbabwe case illustrates a polity that has nominally upheld a multiparty system sustained by regular elections since 1980. The country did not undergo the motions of reforms experienced by such countries as Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, amongst others, in the 1990s.

The study argues that there was therefore no similar transition in qualitative terms in Zimbabwe during that era. Instead a stalemate over constitutional reform in 1999-2000 degenerated into a swing towards authoritarianism as the incumbent government sought to consolidate its precarious hold on power in the face of a broad but heterogeneous protest movement under the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). This stalemate has been protracted and debilitating, as reflected in the democratic deficits in political and economic governance, local and corporate governance as well as in citizen participation, as chapters 4 to 7 of the report show.

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