Pre and post-electoral violence dynamics in a fragile state: what is the sustainable solution to the electoral violence in Zimbabwe?
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Elections are a defining characteristic of the tenets for democracy, and thus form an integral part of the democratization process. Over the past three and a half decades, Zimbabwe’s electoral processes have been pervaded by pre and post-electoral violence dynamics throughout the country. The result has been electoral outcomes that are contestable and neither free nor fair thereby becoming the centrepiece of worldwide attention and condemnation by regional, international and other organizations. The purpose of this study is to inform policy on the holding of elections that are sustainable, peaceful, free and fair in Zimbabwe among other things such as to add the voice of scholarship on the extent to which violence has pervaded the country’s elections so that intervention strategies can be designed to rescue the situation. The objectives of this study are to identify the dynamics that lead to pre and post-electoral violence in Zimbabwe, to determine the existing mechanisms to stem pre and post-electoral violence in Zimbabwe and to contribute strategies to mitigate pre and post-electoral violence in Zimbabwe. The focus of the study is Zimbabwe’s electoral processes from independence in 1980 to the present day. The study is purely qualitative in its nature and it appeals to three theoretical frameworks namely the conflict transformation theory, theory of positive and negative peace and the human needs theory. The study found the dynamics pre and post-electoral violence as militarization, ethnicity, draconian legislations and war rhetoric among others. It further found the existing mechanisms to stem violence as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and legal recourse among others. The study concludes by suggesting contributions such as demilitarization, international supervision of elections and the presence of observers well before and after elections. All data were presented and analysed using NVIVO software.