Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti argues that Zimbabwe's worsening economic crisis is fundamentally political and driven by a lack of government legitimacy that will require active SADC engagement to resolve.
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The violence in the aftermath of Zimbabwe’s elections and ongoing disputes over their credibility undercut the goal of establishing legitimacy for the post-Mugabe government.
Multiple possible scenarios could emerge from Zimbabwe’s July 30 polls—the country’s first without Robert Mugabe’s name on the ballot. For now, the military appears intent on leveraging its interests.
With the resignation of President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe enters a new political era—one without the only leader the country has known since independence in 1980. Here are five strategic considerations to follow.
Tendai Biti, former Minister of Finance in Zimbabwe, shares his reform agenda to advance Zimbabwe’s stability and reengagement with the international community. He maintains that Zimbabweans are tired of government that is not accountable to its people, and that the country, beyond Mugabe, has the opportunity to renew itself.
(This article originally appeared as a chapter in "Russia Strategic Intentions White Paper," Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) publication series, NSI, May 2019.)
Russia has significantly expanded its engagements in Africa in recent years. These engagements often take the form of propping up embattled and isolated autocratic leaders of countries that are rich in natural resources. The United States can draw a distinction with Russia’s destabilizing role by pursuing a positive engagement strategy in Africa. The United States must avoid the Cold War trap of competing with Russia for the affections of corrupt, autocratic leaders in Africa, however, as such a policy would be disastrous for Africa while not advancing US interests.
The rise in disinformation in Africa poses a threat to security, public health, and democracy. Combatting this requires building the capacity of Africa’s fact-checking community and improving media literacy.
The power imbalance between China and Africa poses a challenge for negotiating equitable investment deals. The interests of African citizens can be strengthened through agreements that are transparent, involve experts, and facilitate public engagement.
Acute food insecurity in Africa has increased by over 60 percent in the past year and threatens to widen further as the effects of COVID-19 exacerbate other drivers such as conflict and political mismanagement.
Africa is slated to hold 13 national elections in 2021. Roughly half of these are in the Horn and the central Sahel. Reflective of the democratic backsliding observed on the continent in recent years, more than a third of these polls are little more than political theater – aimed at garnering a fig leaf of legitimacy for leaders who arguably lack a popular mandate. A fundamental question for this year’s elections, therefore, isn’t just about who will win, but how these leaders will be viewed afterward. Will the same level of legitimacy be conferred on leaders who stay in office via these stage-managed processes? Until these leaders bear a reputational cost for lowering the bar of electoral integrity, this trend can be expected to continue.
The spread of surveillance technology in Africa without adequate checks and balances is reshaping the governance landscape while potentially enabling another tool of repression.
A growing pattern of evading term limits in Africa carries far-reaching consequences for the continent’s governance, security, and development.