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Zimbabwe and political transition

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In this research report IDEAS explores the factors which helped ZANU-PF as a former liberation movement retain power and lead to a one-party dominant state. It also explores the extent to which ZANU-PF is adapting to democratic politics and multiparty elections. Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF offers important parallels and insights into the challenges which confront former Southern African liberation movements as they move to become parties of government. These shared aspects include the importance of personality, ethnic and clan politics which helped to shape the liberation movement during the struggle for independence. There is also the important legacy of emphasis on solidarity and lack of internal discussion and debate. Furthermore, the role of 'armed struggle' and the associated use of violence have left lasting influences. These formative attitudes and experiences forged political cultures which have continued to play out in the domestic political arena post-independence. ZANU-PF is an extreme case study of the limits of how susceptible and receptive liberation leadership may be to internal dissent and debate as they address the considerable difficulties of nation-state construction after formal independence. By late 1990s ZANU-PF was facing a profound challenge to the legitimacy of its victory, and to the legitimacy and identity of the liberation movement itself. From 2000 the struggle in Zimbabwe constituted 'a battle for the state', and this battle is continuing to play out in present-day Zimbabwe.

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