A Tale of Two Elections: Zimbabwe at the Polls in 2008
Zimbabwe’s politics are profoundly shaped by violence. Violence has motivated, divided and united each of Zimbabwe’s political parties in distinctive ways, it has shaped their ability to mobilise, their constituencies and their ideology, it has marked successive electoral contests and it has been used to transform the state. The ruling Zanu(PF)’s ‘third chimurenga’, launched in 2000, is rooted in a historical narrative of violence that links the uprisings against conquest in the 1890s to the liberation war of the 1970s and the battle to reclaim the nation’s white-owned farmland in 2000. For those in opposition politics, the violence of the third chimurenga evokes a different lineage: the extreme repression – known as Gukurahundi – that was launched against Zanu(PF)’s liberation-era rival Zapu in the 1980s, and the violence periodically directed at civic and political opponents of Zanu(PF) since then.
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This article was first published in Politique Africaine, 111, 2008, and is reproduced here (in English) with the kind permission of the editors of Politique Africaine. We owe many thanks for comments and criticism to Vincent Foucher, Brian Raftopoulos, Adrienne LeBas, Tim Scarnecchia, Shari Eppel and Dave Anderson.
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