Zimbabwe’s Polarized Electorate

We read the recent Afrobarometer Report about Zimbabwe’s polarised electorate, and this got us thinking. On the one hand, we completely agreed. Our experiences over this past election in particular were ones of either / or polarised thinking – Either your with MY party or you’re against. This left little room for conversation, dialogue, debate or constructive discussion. But, we thought, what can be done about this.

So, we asked our community: What do you think? Is Zimbabwe divided? Over what? If so, what can be done? 

Many thanks to Collen, Abigail, Rest, Naison, Lawrence, Tinashe, Wilfred, Stewart, Tapfu, Hogai and everyone who responded. This is just a sample of the many replies we got via email and on our Facebook page.

It is not a secret that Zimbabwe is divided along political lines. I think the only solution is to address the concerns of people from both sides of the political line. Firstly, we must have a post-election Commission tasked with educating the people and sort of take them through a healing process after the pains of electoral losses. Make them accept the reality that we can only contest another election after 5 years. Secondly, those who won the elections must do everything to address social issues and improve the peoples’ livelihoods. Only then can the dividing-line break and melt away. It is faith in the other group and lack of it in the second group that keeps Zimbabwe in two camps. So those in power must display kurongeka so that munhu wese anovimba navo and the divide will be gone.
– Collen

Zimbabwe is divided firstly because of Zanu stalwarts who voted for it because they stand to benefit and now because everyone was accustomed to freedom of speech it becomes difficult to try and fit in to the current setting for those who feel they need to bat for both teams to get ahead in life. At the same time things seem to be taking a turn for the worst and there are no excuses left as to how the leadership claimed to rid the country of all these problems yet decay and rot is on an exponential growth spurt.
– Abigail

The ordinary Zimbabwean electorate are united by the poverty status which is in the country. The people can all agree that the standard of living and the value of the Bond note is depreciating at an exponential rate which is a sign of impending economic doom. The electorate my differ in the political party or the rightful president but we can all agree that we are tired of cash shortages that have gave rise to the bond note being sold as if it was a commodity, ever increasing prices of basic goods, long queue’s that are a usual site @ the banks, CBD congestion, moral decay and unemployment though our political inclination maybe be different. Those who have been benefiting from the Elitist policies and practices in the nation are in support of the revolutionary party and are optimistic that vision 2030 is attainable though those who lost their lifetime savings and pension due to the same policies that have made some better off ,they were made worse off hence they do not see any light at the end of the tunnel for the New Dispensation. The majority of the roads that had been neglected by the Mugabe regime are now being resurfaced and its being said that the quality of the work being done on the roads will withstand the large volumes of traffic ,is this a sign of true change that is coming that has been waited for over 2 decades? Some are optimistic where some see it as a preplanned program that was penned by the previous admiration as a campaign strategy from the election that they never did participate in after the ouster. The Zambian –China relationship has also divided the electorate on whether the New Dispensation should enter in bilateral agreements with the Chinese. The international media has reported that Zambian Electricity Distribution company and the Lusaka airport has been taken over by the Chinese due to Zambia defaulting on loans .The relationship that the nation seeks with the Chinese ,will it not put us in the Zambian situation? Some Zimbabweans though who are not upbeat about micro and macro-economic functions are positive that if the Chinese were to give us aid in the form of debt ,it would automatically boost the economy, from the past interactions that the people has had with the Chinese ,reduces the level of hope. Why, the Chinese are said to be brutal and are masters of the hard labour such that those who have worked for the Chinese Companies would rather be vendors that be abused. Remedial action taken in a bit to cure the country of the divisions that might exist is simply done through the improvement of the standard of living for the majority of the Zimbabweans. The elite class must be demolished and the existing structure that are favorable for elitism must be brought down such that there is equity and fairness in the distribution of resources and opportunities. Corruption must not have room in the country as we have seen its effects on the country.
– LRN

Polarisation is due to the electorate & some political players to accept outcomes that do not favour them. After a violent free pre election period, where the media was open to all, and later Zimbabwe’s first internationally observed election in 18 years, ZESN & Afrobarometre credible observations & a historic internatinally broadcast electoral challenge that was unanimously dismissed by the concourt.Even the nuetralcredible BBC Hardtalk interview was dismissed by certain sections because it did not favour their candidate then the Paul Kagame debacle where again clearly cast light, but again ….Ultimately i think the polarisation is an unfortunate choice Zimbabweans are taking by deliberately loosing objectivity simply because the outcome does not favour them, a dangerous precedent is being set where a contest is ‘free & fair’, only if a particular candidate wins
– VTM

Zimbabwe lacks a shared national vision. Most of the so called visions are partisan. If we had a vision that pass political party lines then only can we walk towards one direction. Can two walk together unless they agree. We must agree on the vision of our nation. Everyone who gets into a leadership position must serve the interests of the nation. Leaders mustn’t be selfish, greed or corrupt.
– Rest

Yes right now the nation is divided, and with this problem there is no progression #TheSolution Political leaders should consider people first’ on this issue E.D to call the opposition leader to settle issue ,cause the division came from only two people .Unit between our leaders mean unit to citizens thanks….
– Naison

Divisions are due to a number of factors. Firstly, distribution of national resources along party affiliation. 2 nyaya yekut takarwirwa nyika so toita zvatoda inoita kut those vasina kurwa vafeele as havas part of the nation. National leadership shud serve the peoples regardless of their political parties. Kkkk anz muchabvidza nesewage coz makavhotera MDC in chitungwiza nyika ingabatana here pakadaro. In a democracy there should be tolerance for divergent opinions and interests. Kuudza munhu kut uri mhandu dzakutsaku mutengesi wenyika zvinopatsanura vanhu. Maslogan amwe anofana kuchinjwa.
– Lawrence

Nonsense, are we not suppose to be divided? You guys suggest these things only for the benefit of Zanu coz you’re already Zanulised. In this point of time Talks can’t work because it seems like everything in Zimbabwe is Zanulised. In action we believe and change will definitely come.
– Tinashe

To pretend as if Zimbabweans are united when in actual fact not is the biggest foolish mistake that is making everything possibility to initiate unity futile. We are a divided nation along racial , ethnical , political , economic and tribal grounds. From 1980 the popular slogan we were educated and get accustomed to was ‘pasi nemhandu’ and here mhandu had reference to whites specifically. Came an era after the year 1987 and 2000 the same slogan ‘pasi nemhandu’ had a new reference and now directed to fellow blacks who were suspected to be anti- Zanu PF regime and the hatred catalyzed by that divisional slogan created a fertile ground for the popular ‘gukurahundi genocide’ And after the year 2000 the same divisional slogan was adopted and had reference to all who had association with whites and at this stage it was blacks attacking fellow blacks again and whites a bit distant (Zanu PF and MDC). Even the MDC slogan today expresses hate to a section of the population and from the statistics of the previous harmonized elections the section is close half of the total population of Zimbabwe . It is clear now to conclude that Zimbabwe is divided up into two visible camps existing together like oil and water. What l think could be helpful is for the two leaders of the two main political camps to find a round table and if possible work together once they join hands their followers will play second fiddle and it is that unity required for progression to take place in Zimbabwe. Political slogans such as ‘pasi nemhandu’ are no longer contextual if ever they have been especially in this century. Once we tell our followers that all who are not part of us are our enemies then we have divided the nation. Is this what is not happening?
– Wilfred

Zimbabwe is divided along personality not national issues, if you ask those who say pfee and those who say ccc any question as regards their preferred candidate’s policies you would be surprised.
– Stewart

no trust in our on national army
# no trust in our judiciary system it’s so biased and partisan
# no trust in our electoral monitoring board (zec) it is filled up with army and corrupt officers
# no trust in our state president he’s a hypocrite
# no trust in anything that begins with |Z|
The solution is simple it’s not only about uniting political parties zanu pf and Mdc alliance only but the fact is we must go back to the basics of observing our constitution not to twist it for it to suit our on self ambitions.
# they must be rule of law in Zimbabwe
# our courts or judiciary system must be non partisan and be a reliable source of justice…..that only creates a democratic state and attractive environment for business.
# solders are peace keeping officers we pay them with our tax payers money to safeguard us not to kill us ….barrel must not lead politics Solders must remove their arms on politics
# Zec must be disbanded and be condemned for all the problems Zimbabwe is facing. If zec had properly handled the election without being biased and corrupt we could not be facing all this mayhem
# Our president must swallow pride and consider the suffering of ordinary Zimbabwean and not think of himself only but the whole state at large , how much suffering we are and have peace talks with Nelson Chamisa to map a way forward not gnu or coalition gvnt but how can we return to the basic of rule of law of Zimbabwe
– Tapfu

Zimbabwe is deeply divided and the Mugabe era is largely responsible for all these divisions that are clearly on tribal and ethinical lines. The zanupf of Mugabe flourished on the politics of divide and rule. The major source of division is how the national cake was unevenly being shared with the Zezuru tribe of mashonaland being the Zimbabwean “Tutsis” if we were going to compare our scenario with Rwanda. The country survived on the politics of patronage and as result corruption became the order of the day. The worst enermy of Zimbabwe today is corruption and unless if we don’t declare a full war on this cancer the divisions in Zimbabwe will never be healed. The division between the poor and the the rich is just too great and it cannot be left to natural forces for healing own its own. The present government needs to craft deliberate policies targeting to narrow this gap. Most of the the rich people corruptly accumulated their wealth through Mugabe’s politics of patronage and our current president is aware of this. He has the simple task of acknowledging this and many other anomalies the former government created for our nation to move forward. He has to accept responsibility and accountability and put corrective measures for this great nation to realize economic and social development. Mugabe’s primary concern was personal political power at whatever cost against economic and social development as seen by his unilateral withdrawal from development international institutions e.g. the common wealth. The current government must learn from such grave mistakes, they need to reengage the world if we are to succeed in the fight against poverty in our country. The current government needs to treat people with respect wherever they are rural, urban or diaspora. Political patronage should never be allowed back into our society the classification of citizens on ethnic, tribal and political affiliations destroys UNITY which is the fulcrum of Zimbabwe’s aspirations and hopes.
– Hogai