n African Security Review - Zimbabwe's March 2005 elections : dangers and opportunities - : feature

Volume 14, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1024-6029
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On 31 March 2005, Zimbabwe held its parliamentary polls, the sixth since the country gained independence in 1980. These elections were widely viewed by analysts as representing a rare chance to end political tensions and pull the country back from the brink of instability by breaking the political deadlock that has dominated it since the controversial presidential elections in 2002. In recent years, a great deal has been published on what has come to be known as the 'Zimbabwe crisis', a classic case that has reinforced cynical views about the weakness or failure of post-colonial states in Africa. The current situation is deeply rooted in President Robert Mugabe's politicisation of land-related historical injustices and tensions. Arguably, he did this to stem the tide of the pro-democracy movement and to sustain his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) government in power, in the wake of the seizure of white commercial farms from 2000 onwards and the resultant downward plunge of the economy. Although it is obvious that Zimbabwe's political future hinged on these elections, it is now clear that the outcome has been judged to be unacceptable to the parties contesting it, especially the MDC, which has constantly pointed out the lack of a level playing field. Since these elections have failed to gain a degree of national, regional and international acceptability, this paper will question whether this event has given Zimbabwe another opportunity to resolve the political impasse. Current assessments would suggest that this is not so and that Zimbabwe will return to its previous state of political paralysis.

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