Back to the Future: Legitimising Zimbabwe’s 2018 Elections

This report examines the claim that ZANU-PF’s victory in 2013 was primarily the result of an enlarged support base and considers some of the conditions that informed the 2013 poll. The report is not, however, intended as a comprehensive analysis of ‘why Mugabe won’ in 2013. There appears to be a general view that reports of this nature, which seek to expose and analyse democratic deficits in governance, should be accompanied by recommendations of ‘the way forward’. This report does not assume that there is a way out of Zimbabwe’s malaise, its aim is to consider the lessons that might be learnt from the results of the 2013 election. In doing so, it advances the view that ZANU-PF’s successive electoral victories have been secured by the conflation of party and government and the ruling party’s resultant control of all institutions of state. At the most obvious level, this allows for the abuse of state resources (including the effective monopoly of electronic media) for party political purposes. Through ZANU-PF’s command of the criminal justice system – the police, prosecution service and the courts – opposition rallies and campaigning are suppressed and supporters are arrested on trumped up charges and subjected to violence and intimidation with no repercussions for the perpetrators.