ACAS Review (Bulletin)



The Glass Fortress: Zimbabwe’s Cyber-Guerrilla Warfare

By | December 2008

This is a story of the way internet has brought together print and audio into a diverse bouquet of weapons, giving birth to the cyber-guerrilla. It is a story that must start with Strive Masiyiwa, the man who brought the internet to Zimbabwe. A former engineer with the state-owned Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (PTC), in 1994 Masiyiwa established Econet Wireless (Pvt) Ltd. amid red-faced resistance from the regime. The state refused to grant him a license, but in 1997 the Supreme Court declared the state’s telecommunications monopoly unconstitutional. Only the intervention of Vice President and Zapu supremo Joshua Nkomo prevented Mugabe from further emasculating Masiyiwa’s project.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 80
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Waiting for Power-sharing: A False Promise?

By | December 2008

Mugabe was re-elected as President in the run-off on June 27 2008 after the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the contest because of the high levels of political violence and other conditions that made a free and fair election impossible. Days after Mugabe was sworn in for another five-year term, the African Union (AU) encouraged the formation of an inclusive government and expressed support for the continuation of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) mediation efforts. On July 21 2008, all three party leaders signed the Memorandum of Unity (MOU) committing them to establish an inclusive government. Taking much longer than the envisaged two weeks in the MOU, they signed a power-sharing agreement that provided for the creation of a new government on September 15. The agreement has yet to be implemented.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 80
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Zimbabwe: Failing Better?

By | December 2008

The words of Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho fit Zimbabwe. If the process of ‘democratisation’, liberalisation, and all those other aspects of capitalist modernity is ‘westward,’ then Zimbabwe under a challenged Mugabe has been heading there in almost the worst conceivable way. But for the democrats struggling to enlarge their space the words of the ultimate tragic optimist are appropriate too. More than three decades (including the liberation war after the mid-seventies) under Mugabe have meant those attempting to widen space for their democratic desires being doomed to repeat Beckett’s injunction: “ever tried? Ever failed? No matter, try again, fail again, Fail better”. It’s hard not to “throw up for good” in such a struggle, but they haven’t yet. The problem, though, is finding a way to combine parliamentary and extra-parliamentary roads to that end.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 80
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The Zimbabwean Working Peoples: Between a political rock and an economic hard place

By | December 2008

At the summit of the African Union in Ghana in July 2007, Robert Mugabe was given a standing ovation. Later he went outside the conference to deliver a roaring anti –imperialist speech at a huge public rally. At the Nkrumah square Mugabe was hailed as one of the most steadfast revolutionary leaders in Africa. One year later, at the African Union Conference in Cairo, Egypt, Robert Mugabe was shunned by most leaders and condemned by those who opposed the authoritarian and dictatorial methods of rule. One day prior to the conference Mugabe had been sworn in as President after a non-election where he was the only candidate. This was a far cry from his initial inauguration in April 1980 when he was sworn in as Prime Minister before a throng of hundreds of thousands. Bob Marley had led the popular anti-racist and anti-imperialist forces to this celebration and had sung, Africans a liberate Zimbabwe. By June 2008 Robert when Mugabe was sworn in his regime had degenerated from a party associated with the legacies of Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah to an organization associated with the militarism and repression of Mobutu Sese Seko and Hastings Banda. Working peoples all across the region led and inspired by the Congress of South African Trade Unions opposed the Mugabe government and called for its isolation. Nelson Mandela was moved to declare that one was witnessing a ‘tragic failure of leadership in Zimbabwe.’

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 80
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Zimbabweans Living in the South African Border-Zone: Negotiating, Suffering, and Surviving

By | December 2008

Zimbabweans working, or seeking to work, on commercial farms and elsewhere in northern South Africa have sought out livelihoods and some form of security by negotiating precarious economic opportunities and the contingent enforcement of immigration rules in an atmosphere of generally hostile sentiments towards Zimbabweans in South Africa. They are doing so largely due to the continuing catastrophic unraveling of livelihoods, social services, and personal security for the majority of Zimbabweans in their own country as ZANU (PF) has unleashed terror in a vain attempt to hang onto power as the national economy implodes. Whereas the actual working and living conditions on the farms vary dramatically as some farmers, white and black, ruthlessly exploit the desperation of many of the Zimbabweans seeking work (HRW 2006, 2007, Rutherford and Addison 2007, Bloch 2008), much policy and activist energy is focused on the immigration processes and living conditions of all Zimbabweans in this zone. In this article, I aim to sketch out some of the pressing concerns of some of the Zimbabweans in this border-zone in light of the varied government and non-governmental interventions. As a way to introduce some of these issues, let me provide some examples from recent research carried out in Musina, the South African border town with Zimbabwe, and the surrounding farms in June 2008.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 80
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Review: Heidi Holland’s Dinner with Mugabe

By | December 2008

Dinner with MugabeIn 1957 Ghana became the first former European colony in Africa south of the Sahara to gain its political independence. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s new Prime Minister, invited young Africans from countries still under colonial rule to move to Ghana and help built the new country. Among the new immigrants was a young schoolteacher from Rhodesia, Robert Mugabe. The young Mugabe quickly settled in Ghana. In 1960 during a visit home to see his mother, however, Mugabe was invited to join a march against the arrest of two nationalist leaders, in the Rhodesian capital Salisbury. Facing police, the marchers stopped to hold an impromptu political rally. Somehow Mugabe found himself hoisted onto the improvised stage alongside other leaders like Joshua Nkomo, who was heading the leading black opposition group, the National Democratic Party. Mugabe gave a rousing speech (“The nationalist movement will only succeed if it based on a blending of all classes of men”) and impressed nationalist leaders soon convinced him not to return to Ghana and instead become publicity secretary of the National Democratic Party that later morphed into the Zimbabwe African People’s Union or ZANU. Three years later Mugabe engineered a split within ZAPU to form the Zimbabwe African National Union. He would dominate that country’s politics from then on.

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Editorial: In the Shadow of Gukurahundi

By | December 2008

A number of the contributions to this Special Issue on Zimbabwe have made more than passing references to the Gukurahundi, the brutal campaign of violence carried out against the mostly Ndebele populations in Zimbabwe during the 1983 and again during the 1985 elections. It is worth reflecting on the meaning of the Gukurahundi for anyone interested in understanding why the ruling party, ZANU(PF), when it found itself backed against the wall by election results they thought could never happen (the March 2008 defeat of so many ZANU(PF) members of parliament AND President Mugabe himself), turned to such depraved forms of terror and political violence to punish individuals and rural villages en masse for having voted for the opposition rather than their supposedly “beloved” ZANU(PF).

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 80
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Reflections on Displacement in Zimbabwe

By | December 2008

Displacements of various kinds, overlaying one another across time and space, litter Zimbabwe’s histories and geographies, while adding new layers to ongoing relationships with neighbouring countries. Physical, social and symbolic landscapes are all powerfully imprinted with the racialised colonial past of violent land dispossessions on a massive scale, and with the routinised practices of state evictions and both politically motivated and ‘development induced’ dislocations in post-independence Zimbabwe. The normalisation of such practices as an ordinary dimension of statecraft reveals an intimate and sustained relationship between displacement, assertions of sovereignty, and processes of state making. This relationship has become further complicated in recent times by the increasingly direct links between party-political affiliation, notions of belonging (to the party, to the nation), and forms of violent displacement and exclusion.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 80
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A Tale of Two Elections: Zimbabwe at the Polls in 2008

By | December 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.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 80
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Africa and the making of adjustment: How economists hijacked the Bank’s agenda

By | September 2008

The failure of development reflects a crisis in the economic theory that has driven the policies that the World Bank has imposed since 1980. Development economist and professor of African studies Howard Stein examines the evolution of policy in the Bank, focusing on how economists became hegemonic. In this essay he details the origin of structural adjustment, tracing its roots back to a set of neoliberal economists who gained influence at the Bank in the late 1970s.

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