|Full text PDF:||https://www.freidok.uni-freiburg.de/data/10763|
The Zimbabwean elections have been marred by unprecedented acts of election violence, intimidation, coercion, harassment and manipulation and this has systematically disenfranchised the citizenry from the much-desired democratic transition. These acts of violence have reversed the government’s efforts and commitment to democratize the country which had been under an autocratic colonial regime for almost one hundred years. This localized empirical research study explores and unpacks the dynamics of the 2008-2013 election violence in the communities of Manicaland in Zimbabwe. The study also examines the socio-economic and political effects of election violence on the lives of the people. The aims and objectives of the study have been achieved basically through an in-depth empirical exploration of the people’s election violence experiences in three Manicaland communities, namely Nyamaropa, Honde Valley and Mhakwe. The data collection process was carried out in 2013 from May to December. This period also covered a crucial general election that marked an end to the Government of National Unity established in 2009 after the bloody 2008 election violence. The primary data was collected through qualitative indepth interviews in the three communities with people with impeccable experience and vast knowledge of state-sponsored election violence. The empirical evidence leads to several results. The central finding is that the regime resorts to organized state-sponsored violence as a strategy to suppress and inhibit a smooth democratic transition in the country. This strategy is executed primarily by local perpetrators who reside with the people they victimize in the same communities. The regime boasts of its community mobilization strategies as a critical methodology of perpetuating the use of election violence to thwart the desired democratic transition in the country. The use of violence incapacitates the community members mentally, physically and economically, by making them vulnerable to intimidation, harassment, suppression and manipulation. The physical harm on the bodies of the victims and their property has serious socio-economic and political consequences. Thus, violence is constantly being used to impoverish and emotionally enslave the citizenry. The regime takes advantage of this desperate economic and emotional situation of many families in the communities and gives food aid as patronage to support the ruling party. The people are politically enslaved by the acts of violence. The research study demonstrates how the state institutions, such as the instruments of violence and the institutions of law, have been usurped by the ruling party to preside over election violence in the communities. Violence is thus a fundamental strategy used by electoral authoritarian regimes to steal the elections and to remain in power. Advisors/Committee Members: Kößler, Reinhart (advisor).