The ZEC/ZANU-PF Symbiotic Relationship, Military Factor and Post July 30 2018 Election Violence


In previous political economy analyses, ZDI has argued that there exists a symbiotic relationship between Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) and Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) which operate subservient to the whims of the military factor in political and electoral processes of Zimbabwe. This undesirable relationship has been brought to contestable scrutiny after the 30 July 2018 election and its attendant controversies and contradictions that this paper explores.

Zimbabwe’s transition to a democratic dispensation stood mainly on the possibility to obtain a free, fair, credible and peaceful election. This desirable democratic trajectory has been blocked by the grotesque interplay within the stated ZEC / ZANU-PF and the ambitious military factor in the political and electoral affairs of the state.

This paper argues that, it is a standing fact that among other factors leading to the post election violence that broke out in Harare on the 1st of August 2018 was nothing other than ZEC and its servitude to the ZANU-PF and military elites. Informed by Stedman’s peacebuilding theory, this study posits that ZEC was the “spoiler” problem leading to the postelection conflict in Zimbabwe. This has negatively affected President Emerson Mnangagwa’s agonizing efforts to lure investors from the West through his reengagement policy typified by his theme “Zimbabwe is open for business.”

Empirical evidence of the military interference in civilian and electoral affairs throughout Zimbabwe’s electoral history dictates that addressing the military factor is a key determinant of the country’s ability to transition into a democratic dispensation and breaking bonds from the 37 years of former President Mugabe’s misrule. The major problem of Zimbabwe remains militarization and capture of state institutions including ZANU-PF. As this paper reviews, such factors have contributed to the events of 1 August 2018 where the military gunned down seven unarmed civilians in Harare during protests over alleged electoral manipulation by ZEC. The incident cast a bad light on the transition going forward.

Source: Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI)

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