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n Journal of African Elections - Civil society's contested role in the 2013 elections in Zimbabwe - a historical perspective

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Abstract

This article is a critical and historical assessment of the contribution of Zimbabwe's bourgeoning civil society to the restructuring of political and social relations in post-colonial Zimbabwe. The general objective is to contribute to the debate about how Zimbabwe's post-colonial civil society has theorised about change and, importantly, the deeply contested nature of the agency that this has generated. The article concentrates on how civil society structured itself and acted before the elections on 31 July 2013, which the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) 'won resoundingly'. What emerges is that while the economic despair of the 1990s and the breakdown in the national consensus mobilised an almost 'popular democratic front' this changed course in the subsequent decade, weakening the 'popular' and 'democratic' nature of civil society agency. The foundation of 'liberal rights' and 'democracy' and 'good governance' powerfully amalgamated in the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the 'No Vote' in 2000 became theoretically feeble and revealed a debilitating post-colonial impasse - an interregnum during which an urban-based intelligentsia-led theorisation and agency was momentarily checkmated by a violent nationalist authoritarianism.

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/content/eisa_jae/13/2/EJC163254
2014-10-01
2016-12-07
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