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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
PF's new-found but fragile revivalist hegemony
September 04, 2013
Mugabe was sworn in on August 22 2013 some in his party’s
circles and sympathetic analysts equated the inauguration
ceremony as being the equivalent of the historical 1980 arrival
of a newly independent Zimbabwe. In reality it turned out to be
a comparatively less celebrated ceremony and more an immediate post-election
event minus any euphoric expectations of the future. Almost two
weeks after the inauguration, there is limited reason to expect
that it still remains carved in the collective memory of a majority
of Zimbabweans. What obtains is more or less a wait and see attitude
about what the now singular ruling party can and will do for all
So as it is,
sweeping victory (contested and as real as it is) signifies,
more than anything else, a return of Zanu-PF to singular political
hegemony over our country. And this is not new political territory
for the ruling party or the people of Zimbabwe. The only difference
is that it has occurred after a drawn out four year period of power
sharing guaranteed by the regional body, SADC. This makes the electoral
triumph of Zanu-PF bitter sweet. However, that they had found themselves
in a situation where they had to share power in the first place
was (and probably remains) evidence of their weakened political
With this electoral
victory there are however, signs of concerted attempts by the ruling
party at a ‘revivalist hegemony’. This was particularly
evidenced by their quick reference to the recent inauguration ceremony
as being akin to that of 1980. The reality of the matter is that
it is not going to be an easy road for this new found revivalism
why it is a difficult task for the ruling party are many and begin
with understanding that electoral victory alone is not enough to
define hegemony. And that power acquisition can sometimes end up
as being power for its own sake while counter-hegemonic forces (if
there are any) work toward taking over.
leaders of Zanu-PF realize this, even if by default. This ‘default’
mode was more defensive and in aide of their retention of their
hold on power than it was organic. It relied fundamentally on three
pillars. Namely, stubbornly holding onto the nationalist (liberation
war) narrative and its justification for the use of violence; the
compulsory acquisition of land and the ongoing though haphazard
economic indigenization programme. All of the latter pillars are
the ones that have in part led to some pundits (including a former
South African President) explaining why Zanu-PF not only won the
July 2013 election but also why they seem to be on the ascendancy
again, even without internal leadership renewal.
It is however,
the aftermath of the victory that is most problematic for Zanu-PF’s
hold on its new-found revivalist hegemony. The pillars upon which
the election rested required a visible and lived counter hegemonic
project in the form of the MDC-T as well as the inclusive government.
Going into the next five years without such an opposing view and
action point is in itself a serious challenge for the ruling party.
Particularly with regards to constructing a new cultural edifice
around not only the legitimacy of its electoral retention of power
but also its usage of the latter.
that emerge are how does Zanu Pf shift its electoral strategies
into sustainable economic and democratic realities not only for
those that voted for it but for all Zimbabweans? Or alternatively
is it capable of overcoming its electoral contestation mode in order
to govern without direct reference to a real or imagined opponent
for the better of all Zimbabweans?
to these questions, depending on where they come from, will be fraught
with emotion and arbitrary defensiveness if not outright dismissal.
What however, remains apparent is that for all its victory celebrations
(which we shall certainly be seeing a lot of in the coming months),
Zanu-PF faces a monumental challenge in broadening and even democratising
the imperatives of its hegemony.
Five years is
not a long time in politics. It is most certainly true that Zanu-PF
will not be able to sing the same songs over and about indigenization,
land reform or the liberation struggle in 2018. At least not to
the same guitar or drum rhythms. It is party that is going to be
judged less on the basis of its past or electoral rhetoric as pitted
against a strong counter-hegemony. Instead the judgment calls will
be more on the basis of its ability to perform democratically and
in the best interests of all Zimbabweans.
So as it is,
while many may be pleasantly surprised or thoroughly shocked by
Zanu-PF’s victory in the July 2013 elections, a deeper analysis
points to a fragility of the same. The ruling party’s return
to full government may be indicative of the revival of its complete
hegemony over Zimbabwean politics but a return is not the final
arbiter of its effectiveness. It’s the performance of the
same that is. And on that, I am certain there will be new counter-hegemonies
to challenge for state power in 2018.
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