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Call for book chapters: Zimbabwe in Transition
Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe (IDAZIM)

Deadline for abstracts: 30 October 2010

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Zimbabwe is arguably a country in transition. Since 1999, the country has experienced years of intense political conflict between the then ruling ZANU-PF party and the erstwhile opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). By the time the watershed 2008 harmonised elections wre held, Zimbabwe had fallen into a state of almost complete economic and social collapse characterized by poor public services especially in the areas of primary health care, provision of clean water, electricity and shortages in basic commodities. .

In September 2008, the political leadership finally embarked on a new path when rival parties signed a tripartite inter-party power-sharing agreement. A coalition government was finally formed in February 2009 amidst significant outstanding issues that carried conflict and contestation into the life of the power-sharing agreement. This 'unity' government took office in February 2009 and is commonly referred to as the "Inclusive Government."

Its installment has helped to reduce extreme political violence and stabilize the economy. However, a long way remains in solving the structural causes of Zimbabwe's internecine political conflict and the attendant economic problems. Given the hesitancy of international cooperating partners to establish formal aid relations with Harare, the task to restore growth to the economy, and fulfilling basic social service is still a far cry. Thus, the Inclusive Government is struggling to make its case to some powerful sections of the international community who seem shy to embrace a regime that still appears to have its authoritarian pillars intact.

In this regard, while the power-sharing government was initially greeted with relief and unbridled optimism by Zimbabwean citizens, the slow pace of stabilization, persistence of high levels of unemployment and fears that the old regime is not ready to surrender power have cooled down earlier popular enthusiasms.

It is therefore vitally important to capture and provide an interpretative narration of these rapidly evolving circumstances and experiences to capture this complex where the contestation for the control of the state is paramount. The proposed book series seeks to do that.

Our conceptualization is that a transition is an interval of intense contestation and uncertain outcome between political regimes. Zimbabwe entered such a period with the signing of the GPA but the transition is nascent, fragile and uncompleted. Luckily, Zimbabwe, though a fragile state, is not a failed state for it still retains (a) a monopoly of organized violence, a defining attribute of a state, (b) a residual capacity to deliver services, and (c) international legal recognition.

As a fragile state, Zimbabwe surely has deficits in all the dimensions of a governance system including political governance, economic-administrative governance, and security governance. These three interlinked dimensions of governance represent core challenges for rebuilding fragile states. Zimbabwe is lacking in political legitimacy and administrative effectiveness and cannot guarantee human security. Notwithstanding this general conclusion about the state of governance in the country, not much is known about each of the three interacting sub-systems. Further, knowledge is lacking as to the kind and quality of these dimensions that would facilitate and move forward the democratic transition.

Numerous research questions come up in trying to unpack the Zimbabwe's transition. For instance, when did Zimbabwe's transition start? What structural conditions were at play and what were the triggering factors? What are the pivotal institutions and who are the critical players who facilitate and/or impede the transition? What is the likelihood of the Inclusive Government shepherding the transition processes? Or is the coalition government merely interrupting a long running structural pattern of resilient authoritarianism? What do ordinary citizens think about what is happening in their political arena during this deeply challenging period? Understanding popular priorities and preferences, and gauging the public's own assessments of how the coalition government has performed on the ground in ways that affect their daily lives must be part of the discourse on the country's future. This is what the proposed book series wish to achieve.

The objective of the book is to critically understand - through analysis - issues of democratic governance, democratic transition, role of civil society in transition processes, structural and agential factors in the transition, institution-building and matters of state capacity and public sector-decision making. A distinguished panel of academics will review and edit the book for publication.

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