Elections in Zimbabwe: A Recipe for Tension or a Remedy for Reconciliation?

"In this paper I seek to provide an in-depth analysis of Zimbabwe’s elections from 1980 to 2008, with a view to establishing whether they have been a recipe for deepening tension and conflict, or a remedy for reconciliation and a source of political stability and democracy. The study is divided into seven sections. The first is this introduction. The second section provides the historical and political background necessary for a deeper understanding of the macro-context within which Zimbabwe’s elections have been conceived, understood and conducted. The third section briefly analyses the elections that took place between 1980 and 2005, exposing how they have all been marred by violence that compromised the extent to which they were free and fair. The fourth section examines the controversial 2008 Zimbabwe polls that culminated in a political logjam. The fifth section analyses the core provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that relate to the convening of the next poll as a remedy to the crisis of legitimacy generated by the failure of the 2008 polls. The sixth section engages the question of the political future of Zimbabwe, focusing on: the prospects of Zimbabwe holding elections in 2012 or 2013; the country’s readiness for free and fair elections; and the potential that elections have for promoting reconciliation and national healing. Section seven is the conclusion; it draws broader arguments and argues that electoral democracy in Zimbabwe has remained compromised by violence and lack of respect for the will of the people."