On Aug 7, 2020, Zimbabwean police transferred prominent journalist Hopewell Chinono and opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume to the notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. Both figures were arrested last month and accused of inciting public violence. The two prisoners were cast in leg irons, denied bail, private visits with lawyers and family and detained in a cruel colonial relic that has held liberation stalwarts even in the post-independence era. These journalists have become symbols of political persecution by Zimbabwe’s military state.
Growing reports of alleged human rights violations like these have prompted the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter and #freezimbabwe social movement. Ever since the start of Zimbabwe’s national lockdown, the country has seen protests by activists and healthcare personnel over the government’s poor response to covid-19 and lack of care to the vulnerable in society. The country is facing one of its worst economic crises in more than a decade, marked by inflation running above 700%, acute shortage of foreign currency and public hospitals crippled by strikes and a lack of medicine.
Not a New Story
Human rights violations in Zimbabwe today under Mnangagwa’s rule can be traced back. The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) is a political organisation which has been the ruling party in Zimbabwe since it gained independence in 1980. Since 1982, Zimbabwe has endured one corruption scandal after the other, all benefiting senior ZANU-PF officials, of which none have been held to account.
After the ousting of former president, Robert Mugabe and despite spirited promises by President Mnangagwa, new and bigger scandals have cropped up. It is said that the government hires presidential jets for multiple overseas trips while public hospitals are turning into mass morgues, doctors, nurses, teachers and other government workers get measly wages, and living conditions in the country have deteriorated to levels unseen before.
It was assumed that adopting a one-party state framework would ensure cohesiveness and unity especially because of the multi-ethnic nature of many African countries yet this has proven otherwise. The regime sought to establish a one-party state where ZANU-PF was the beginning and the end and there is clear evidence that ZANU-PF has plundered and mismanaged the economy.
Detriments of One-Party Dominance
A one-party system refers to a political framework where one/single party forms and runs the government. A one-party state could operate in an authoritarian context. (Reske, Nijizinkilo:13). Using Zimbabwe as a case study provides a scenario where the single party system degenerated into authoritarianism which became a hindrance to economic development (mostly because the party became a bud of corruption).
Democracy suffers in a country which has a one-party system. Since there are no other ruling political parties, the ruling party takes all decisions arbitrarily without any discussions or deliberations. The minority section of the society suffers under the one-party system as their various opinions and welfare is neglected.
Generally, people have no rights and freedoms in countries with one party systems and the government tends to be dictatorial and does not respond and take accountability to the citizens of the country. One of the responsibilities of a government is to develop policies to manage and steer the politics and economy forward regardless of the prevailing context. In wanting to plunder the economy, abuse citizens’ rights, subvert democracy and violate human rights, political leaders seem to have used the one-party system for their own personal endeavours and not much can be accounted for this system.
We can all agree that one-party dominance has long outrun its course and should be completely abandoned. This is not only in relation to ZANU-PF but our very own African National Congress. A system that was meant to provide stable political growth for its country has completely turned on its head.
Featured images: Snalo Ngcaba