Characterization Of State Failure In Post-Independent Zimbabwe – Part 1

Part 1 puts forward the foundation of State Failure in Zimbabwe which will be followed by Part 2 providing comprehensive and concrete solutions.

The years are 1924 and 1926, which produced two main characters from opposite sides of the political aisle that would play a crucial role in the independence of Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe, born on February 21, 1924, who in his early years was a teacher in Ghana, would come back to his native country to lead the fight against the colonial government of Rhodesia. Two years later, in 1926, Elizabeth was born into the royal family of England and, at 25, became the Queen of England. She would later play a central role in the negotiations that led to the Lancaster House Compromise.
The war intensified. The Frontline States saw the need to push negotiations, as did the Patriotic Front (PF), with the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) led by Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, respectively, and the Rhodesian government led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa of the United African National Council (UANC) and lan Smith of the Rhodesian Front
The Lancaster House negotiations were tense, with Robert Mugabe walking away after failing to agree on the land question, but the pressure from the Frontline States led to his conceding. In 1980, after the Lancaster House Agreement (LHA), a new flag of a new independent country, Zimbabwe, was hoisted in Harare.
Robert Mugabe, under ZANU, was the new Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. He preached reconciliation and assembled a team of rivals, both whites and blacks, from different political parties. There was a lot of hope from Zimbabweans and the international community, as Robert Mugabe had started on a good footing of reconciliation. Days, weeks, months, and years passed by, and the struggle for more power, money, legitimacy, and popularity began.

Gukurahundi Genocide

The darkest and most painful episode of humanity and the historical conception of the Zimbabwean state was the massacre in Matabeleland. In 1982, two years after independence, the state led by Robert Mugabe, 5th Brigade Commander Perrence Shiri, and Minister of State Security Emmerson Mnangagwa was on a rampage to torture and mass murder the people of Matabeleland. Dissidents were the scapegoats of this insensible and brutal act, but some suggest that it was a well-oiled plan to dismantle the opposition and create a conducive environment for one-party-state advocacy. An estimated number of 20,000 people were killed. This act divided the people of Zimbabwe; the people were no longer working towards a national vision and nation-building. The country became so tribal that entrenched polarisation and a lack of harmony amongst citizens affected its development and produced a disconnect between the citizenry and the state.

Amendment No. 7 (Act 23 of 1987)

The introduction of an executive president in 1987 resulted in an all-power president, as opposed to the Westminster Prime Minister, who is accountable to Parliament. The amendment gave less power to the parliament, resulting in executive tyranny. Concomitant amendments to the constitution followed and continued to give more power to the president. This started creating a de facto one-party state, which means an attack on the democratic space. Robert Mugabe became the man with more power to build, destroy, and make or unmake. As opposed to separation of powers, this made it possible for the executive to make bad decisions without any checks and balances from other arms of the government.

Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP)

In 1993, the government of Zimbabwe adopted the neo-liberal policies of the IMF. ESAP resulted in less funding for social services like healthcare and education. More people started dying due to poor healthcare, education became expensive, and more people lost their jobs.

War Vets Payouts and DRC War

Experiencing economic hardships, the war vets demanded payouts, as led by Dr. Hunzvi and Chinotimba. Zanu PF realised that they were now losing the support of the ex-guerilla soldiers, so they responded by printing more money and spending outside the budget.
During the war in the DRC, Mugabe intervened without Parliament’s consent or approval, spending what is believed to be 1 million USD per day. The intervention resulted in the loss of financial aid from the international community, citing irresponsible spending by the Zimbabwean government.

Land Reform Programme

Land reform was a crucial matter that needed urgent attention, but the lack of transparency and strategic planning in executing land reform programmes caused more harm than good to the Zimbabwean people. Many lost their jobs, and the government had no plan of action to get these people back to work. War vets and government officials took more than one productive farm, borrowed money from the state, and never returned it. The partisanship that came with land reform rendered it unfruitful.

These critical events were the foundation of the problems that Zimbabwe had to face from 2000 until now, and Robert Mugabe and
ZANU PF, through different measures and policies, entrenched polarisation, promoted corruption and nepotism, and thwarted the
democratic space, captured the parliament and the judiciary, chased away investors, and lost touch with the larger scheme of things.
For ZANU PF, the state, in Marx’s sense, is an instrument of class rule and an instrument of oppression for the oppressed. In the past and present existence of Zimbabwe, the state has been the sole organ of society, with the legitimate and legal power to exercise violence and murder without questioning and being held to account. The state has also been used as a tool for amassing wealth through primitive accumulation. The ruling elites are becoming richer and the general public poorer. The people have lost power over those who govern at their mercy. Democracy has lost its meaning; winners in elections are no longer determined by the electorate but by the selectorate.

Dear comrades, the accumulation of these problems and the failure to address and redress them created a system that is still existing. Its engine is being fueled by the minds and character of the politicians of the day. Be aware that problems are never solved by the same characters and systems that created them. There is an urgent need for a change in the systems and character of the Zimbabwean people. ZANU-ism is not a problem for those in the ZANU PF but for all Zimbabweans. New, fresh ideas and a new way of doing things have to be adopted. The alternative should be at the forefront, leading this call to action. The changing of systems required a two-fold strategy: a strong leader with the ability to execute strict and draconian laws and a strong, well-oriented grassroots.

In a quest to educate the masses of our people, writes :

Munashe Masiyiwa

One comment on “Characterization Of State Failure In Post-Independent Zimbabwe – Part 1

  1. Aptly put ! Ending the pamphlet with a call to action on the part of the “living” shows a level of seriousness.

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