‘Birds of the Same Feather,' Shattered Hopes: Case of Zimbabwe Post 2018 Harmonised Elections

‘Birds of the Same Feather,' Shattered Hopes: Case of Zimbabwe Post 2018 Harmonised Elections

Obediah Dodo
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJCESC.2018100103
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The study sought to understand the expectations of the people of Zimbabwe after the 2017 coup, especially in view of prevailing situation where the economy is down and the political environment is depressing. The study is motivated by the promises made and the hopes that subsequently developed in the minds of the masses during the period of the coup. The study anchors on good governance; a social contract between the people and the regime. The study is a product of a desk analysis conducted qualitatively. The study established that it may be too early to condemn the social contract though there are already signs of a failed delivery of the services as per the people's expectations. It is becoming apparent that like any other election manifesto, the messages by the coup sponsors might have been baits for the support of the masses in the power takeover project by the military.
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The popular saying that ‘birds of the same feather flock together’ implies that people who share the same traits are likely to behave in the same manner and follow in the same footsteps. Contextually, the saying challenges us to reflect on the general governance that Zimbabwe has experienced since the attainment of political independence in 1980 under Robert Mugabe’s regime. The saying also seeks to explore the probability of seeing Zimbabwe moving out of its years of doldrums in light of the 2017 change of leadership. This study looks at the challenges that have defined Zimbabwe and the expectations in the people following the 2017 coup. This is against a background where the first republic of Zimbabwe under Mugabe was characterised by autocracy; with citizens failing to effectively partake in governance. Resultantly, this brought alienation, poverty and disempowerment in the people. The second republic has promised various issues; restoration of credible governance, revitalisation of the economy and re-integration into the international community of nations among others. These among others have raised peoples’ hopes for a new dispensation. Fearing that Zimbabwe may not see any change in governance since the new leadership and regime are coming from the traditional leadership circles under Mugabe, the discussion questions if it is a case of shattered hopes once more.

The study also looks at Zimbabwe’s challenges; politically, socially, and economically, people’s general expectations in the second republic, citizens’ fears during the same period and what could be done to ensure that people’s hopes are not permanently shattered. Should the people expect improved governance systems or it is a case of shattered hopes?

Zimbabwe attained its political freedom from the white colonial rule in 1980 following a ninety yearlong rule by the European colonial settlers. Though the period of colonial rule had brought development and civilisation, there was also serious discrimination, apartheid, abuse of human rights and suppression of the indigenous blacks’ interests. The general wave of political independence in Africa in the 1960s and the need to fight discrimination influenced indigenous Zimbabweans to demand their rights. The indigenous blacks’ political victory in 1980 was characterised by widespread excitement and anticipation and hope for a brighter future.

Zimbabwe boasted of a thriving agricultural sector and manufacturing industry contributing over 25% to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 1980s (Moretti 2017). The 1980 government inherited a strong and modern economy which was one of the most developed in the southern African region. However, over the years, Zimbabwe government rolled out various programmes purportedly meant to empower communities, compensate people, develop infrastructure and capacitate previously disadvantaged groups. Most of these programmes severely drained the fiscus thus badly impacting on the economy and general development of the people.

Since Zimbabwe attained its political independence in 1980, it has been religiously conducting national elections according to the constitution. While all the elections have been conducted to fulfil the expectations of the constitution, the people have also participated to among others; fulfil their human rights and to seek change and relief from political stagnancy and political recycling. What the people had experienced over the years was hoped to be rectified through legal electoral processes. These included reformation of the government, a change in political parties, reforms in the security sector and restoration and re-modification of the governance systems.

Politically, it has been an uphill task to wrestle power from the Robert Mugabe-led regime. The only hope was in the fissures that developed within ZANU PF party culminating in the deposition of Mugabe by Mnangagwa on the 17th of November 2017 through a coup d’état which the military dubbed ‘Strategic Military Intervention’ (Dodo & Sadomba, 2018). Generally, the people thought that the removal of Mugabe from the presidency would usher in a new dispensation; electoral democracy, economic emancipation, social and infrastructural revival and restoration of freedoms and rights among other aspirations.

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