Zimbabwe: An Opportunity Lost

Issue Date January 2019
Volume 30
Issue 1
Page Numbers 143-157
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

Read the full essay here.

Zimbabwe’s July 2018 general election came nine months after unprecedented action by the military—a coup in all but name—led to the resignation of longtime dictator Robert Mugabe. The administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former vice-president who took power following the coup, likely saw the election as a means of securing legitimacy and easing Zimbabwe’s international isolation. Yet while the official results proclaimed a victory for Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU-PF, the democratic legitimation they sought remains elusive. International observers criticized the lack of a level playing field, and opposition candidate Nelson Chamisa filed an unsuccessful court challenge. Moreover, the fatal shootings of at least six protesters after the balloting drew broad condemnation. Despite Mugabe’s removal, the competitive authoritarian system that he established and its current militarized incarnation continue to shape Zimbabwe’s politics.

About the Author

Alex Magaisa is lecturer in law at Kent Law School, University of Kent, in the United Kingdom and author of the blog Big Saturday Read. From 2012 to 2013, he was chief of staff to Zimbabwe’s then–prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai. He was a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy from March to July 2018.

View all work by Alex Magaisa