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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Zimbabwe Transition Barometer - Issue 04
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (SA Regional Office)
    May 07, 2013

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    Zimbabwe’s transitional period must be an interregnum of shifting sands, from a set of authoritarian political procedures to democratic ones. The contemporary political processes in Zimbabwe display continuity here and change there which justify the need for continuous trekking of the transition. Consequently, our fourth edition of the Zimbabwe Transition Barometer (Issue 4) continues to focus on key transitional issues and how they affect the quest for democratisation in the country. Given the recently concluded referendum, this issue traces the relevant areas that are central for a democratic transition. Although the timing of the eventual election still remains elusive, there is a need for urgency in addressing outstanding reforms. This task will require the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitators and parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to find consensus around a sustainable road map to that election. In this issue, we argue that the citizens of Zimbabwe, through the representation of civil society, faith based organisations, academia et cetera need to be more involved in formulating lasting solutions to deliver a democratic transition. Their historical exclusion has been one of the causes of the protracted transition as well as the political grandstanding synonymous with the political parties. The focus in this issue is on six areas that have an impact on both the transitional process and the building and consolidation of democratisation.

    The areas of focus are:

    i) The Constitution Referendum

    ii) Review of the implementation of GPA

    iii) Assessing the Rule of Law

    iv) Post referendum: monitoring the elections

    v) Defining Election Dates

    vi) The Role of SADC

    Reform progress and impediments in each of these areas are assessed against the broader goal of democratisation. Their impact on political processes and the possible scenarios that arise from related prevailing matters are also are also made in order to ensure that the ultimate goal of democratisation remains attainable.

    From a conceptual perspective we continue to build on the seminal works of Michael Bratton and Nicolas van de Walle, which focus on regime transitions in sub-Saharan Africa. In their seminal book, ‘Democratic experiments in Africa’; they identify four possible outcomes of a transition, which we continue to employ as the baseline for our analytic lens. These are precluded transition, blocked transition, flawed transition and democratic transition.

    However, we develop this framework by proposing two variants of a flawed transition outcome. The first variant is a premature end to the transition which we term derailed transition and the second is a prolonged transition. The common denominator of both variants of a flawed transition, we develop here, is that the incumbent will continue to occupy the saddle of state power. Unlike in the preceding edition of the Barometer we provide further conceptual clarity on the outcomes of a democratic transition. Beyond Michael Bratton and Nicolas van de Walle’s useful blanket term of a democratic transition we make a theoretical proposition to further qualify such an outcome. As informed by Zimbabwe’s empirical realities and specificities a democratic transition can either be a pacted one or a zero sum one. In both scenarios either the incumbent or opposition wins a free and fair election and choose to accommodate the losers (pacted) or go it alone (zero sum). Neither is less democratic. For now, we lay the possible transitional outcomes as below.

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