The state and politics in Zimbabwe
by Ibbo Mandaza
This paper is a brief synopsis based on my two earlier works:
– Zimbabwe: The Political Economy of Transition, 1980 – 86 (1986), particularly the ‘‘Introduction’’ and Chapter 1 : ‘‘The State in Post – White Settler Colonial Situation’’ (p.2174).
– The Political Economy of the State in Zimbabwe: The Rise and Fall of the Securocrat State 2016
The first reference is available on request, and the latter is attached as the background paper for discussion in this National Convention.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE STATE IN ZIMBABWE
The new state of Zimbabwe is based on the Bourgeois Democracy Model. Notwithstanding the rhetoric and ideological trappings often associated with liberation and African nationalist politics in general, the post-colonial state is based essentially on the bourgeois model. This model is underpinned by a constitution. With a strong emphasis on the separation of powers required by the constitution, these powers are divided between the Executive (which is supposed to be accountable), the Legislative (which is supposed to be both well informed and vibrant, as the representatives of the people), and a judiciary (which is supposed to be fiercely independent, being the ‘‘soul of the nation’’).
Therefore, the constitution is the guarantor for the rule of law, the basic freedoms for all citizens and genuine democratic discourse, the establishment and maintenance of national institutions that are simultaneously non-partisan and conducive to nation-building. It also requires an enlightened leadership that, in the absence of the conventional national bourgeoise that is the anchor class in contemporary (western) bourgeois societies, and can be the driving force for the political and socio-economic development of the post-colonial dispensation.
THE REALITY (CONTENT) OF THE POST-COLONIAL STATE:
For many post-colonial states there was aquest for a ‘Development State’, or a ‘‘Developmental Democracy’’. However, in Zimbabwe we must differentiate between two different forms, the post-colonial state and the predatory state.
Reflecting a recent past (1970’s to 1980’s), the development debate among progressive African scholars in particular centred on the presumed choice between capitalism and socialism, but seeking to emphasize that ‘Democracy’ is a hollow ideal without economic and social development. Therefore, the contemporary African reality is essentially the struggle for (bourgeois) democracy and economic development in an era dominated by international capital, neo-liberalism and a relentless globalisation. This has virtually relegated Sub-Saharan Africa to the status of an extractive industry bowl for primary products, bereft of an industrial capacity and therefore destined for a cycle of unemployment, poverty, under development. Now, almost sixty years since the first Sub-Saharan country (Ghana) gained its independence in 1957, Kwame Nkrumah’s clarion call – ‘‘Seek ye first political kingdom and all else will be added unto it’’ – rings so hollow for the majority of African’s citizens.
THE PREDATORY STATE
This is the Contemporary reality that , like many other post-colonial situations in Africa, characterises the state in Zimbabwe.
- A bourgeois state model but with neither a national bourgeoisie nor a democratic dispensation.
- A leadership that has long lost its purported liberation credentials, failed to be the anchor and driving force for the political and socio-economic development of the country, bereft of national consciousness, parasitic by nature, reducing the state into a vehicle for the crudest of primitive accumulation, the new class of the comprador bourgeoise, the residue of international capital.
- Hence the conflation of corruption with political power :
In a predatory state such as Zimbabwe’s, corruption is not duly endemic but also conflated with power. So, this will continue to persist as long as the power structure remains as it has been for the last two decades. In short, there’s no one within the State, least of all in its leadership, with the moral authority to stamp out corruption, let alone begin to do so.
Therefore, the alliance between the comprador bourgeoise class and sections of the security forces around the state over the last two decades presents the failure of the former national liberation movement as an agency of political and economic development in Zimbabwe.
THE SECUROCRAT STATE
Zimbabwe’s transition has been characterised by the factors of (State) continuity, class, the primacy of national security over political and economic reform, and the conflation of (ruling) party and state, as a necessary feature of the securocrat state.
The latter term is derived also from the military-security factor in the Zimbabwean case, a feature that might also distinguish it from other post-colonial situations in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the enduring role, at least up to the coup of November 2017, and its aftermath, of leading elements of Zimbabwe’s former guerrilla army within the security establishment of the state. These elements have contrived to pervade the post-independence period through a combination of the liberation ideology rhetoric and the related system of patronage. This was born out of a seemingly open-ended entitlement that has made them part of the comprador bourgeois class, and their capacity for violence (or the threat of it)., They have been an indispensable factor in the survival of the Securocrat State, particularly since 2000.
THE COUP AND ITS AFTERMATH
Section III of The Political Economy of the State in Zimbabwe : The Rise and Fall of the Securocrat State, constitutes the heart of the matter before us. It lays out, as it does, the origins and development of the state in Zimbabwe. In doing so, it identifies the dialectic of change, the contradictions that are simultaneously the agency for change in such a crisis. Thereby, it highlights the fault lines that are also simultaneously the demise of the securocrat state, exemplified in the coup of November 2017, marking a significant stage in its fall and, as the current political and economic dispensation testifies, with no hope of ‘‘Restore Legacy’’.
Therefore, the question is not whether the Mugabe/Mnangagwa/Chiwenga regime is fast crumbling before us; that is as obvious and palpable as the political, economic and social malaise that characterises Zimbabwean society today.
The National ‘Citizens Convention is both a response to the crisis, and an undertaking towards designing and implementing an alternative dispensation out of the rubble and ashes of these lost decades.
FROM SECUROCRACY TO DEMOCRACY: THE REFORM AGENDA
The proposals towards this end remain as relevant as they were in 2016, not to mention that they remain outstanding to this day. These are given in detail in the the larger paper (The Rise and Fall of the Securocrat State), especially with respect to the following:
- Political Reforms: Which include – the full implementation of the (new) Constitution of Zimbabwe, and, if possible and desirable, the amendment of such provisions as were left either tentative, because of lack of consensus between the political parties to the constitution making exercises, or, as in the case of the vote for Zimbabweans in the diaspora, sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.
- Reform of all Institutions: to ensure the requisite separation of party and sate (in addition to the necessity of separation of powers) so as to render them truly nonpartisan, in adherence with the Constitution.
- Reform of the electoral process: to include, inter alia, ensuring that the Zimbabwean electoral Commission (ZEC) is completely independent of both political influence and military-security complex.
- National Consensus on Critical national policies: as broadly specified in the Constitution in Chapter Two (National Objectives) and in Chapter Four (Declaration of Rights) and thereby ensuring that the broad policy framework represents the wishes and aspirations of the citizens of Zimbabwe.
Since the publication of the securocrat state analysis, the issue of the National Transitional Authority (NTA) has been in the forefront, not least because of the political impasse in the aftermath of the disputed election in 2018. But, do Zimbabweans have to endure any more suffering – including the kind of bloodshed on 1st August 2018 and in January 2019 – before the imperative of a political solution is realised, as both a necessity in its own right and as the prerequisite for economic recovery?
TOWARDS THE NATIONAL TRANSITIONAL AUTHORITY (NTA)
There is the precedent of Sudan where a Transitional Authority has just been established, and ours could begin with the following steps:
- A National Dialogue – such as this National Citizens Convention; and that already initiated by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and to involve an interface between Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa, together with their respective lieutenants.
- The institution of an Executive Council/Cabinet, co-chaired by Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa, but of course including within it representatives and/or technocrats from civic society and the diaspora.
- The Existing Parliament – to which the Transitional Authority reports, in the context of the conventional separation of powers: an accountable executive; a vibrant Legislature; and a fiercely independent judiciary.
A POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC REFORM AGENDA
- The Transitional Authority will be responsible not only for driving the constitutional and political reforms before the next election, but also economic recovery.
- The restoration of constitutional rule
- The restoration of National Institutions
- The return of the soldiers to the barracks
- Reform of the public service
- Clean up of the judiciary
- A concerted attack on corruption, beginning with a lifestyle audit of leaders in both public and private sectors
- Regional and International Scaffolding of the 3-year Transitional Authority: on the back of an International Rescue Plan, namely, the establishment of a USD5 billion Sovereign/Rescue Fund, to be held in London or New Your, but with the objective of stabilising the economy, engendering international confidence and investment and securing a national currency.
- A Social Development Fund: to attend to the urgent needs in education and healthcare; revival of agriculture, industry, and employment creation; and the establishment of programmes designed to rescue the population from the scourge of poverty, as well as the re-institution of rural development.
- The engagement of the Diaspora, as both investors (in such programmes as the privatisation of parastatals) and joint venture partners with external factors.
- Both the Sovereign/Rescue and Social Development Funds could be mobilised internationally and repaid mainly form the proceeds from the export of mineral resources, mainly gold, diamonds and chrome.
- Amnesty Arrangements: to guard against revenge and vengeance for acts of commission or omission of the part; a negotiated process through which to ensure the repatriation of externalised resources and/or loot; and the institution of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
This indeed is a tall order, but with the requisite political will, it can be accomplished.