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Indefinite lockdown started on Level 2 on 4 May 2020, in a context in which Zimbabwe has not reached the WHO standards for lifting of lockdown. • Regionally, there are increasing concerns about whether lockdown infringes citizens’ rights including the right to earn a living. • Zimbabwe initially locked down in good time to contain the virus, but may lose the advantage if health facilities are not quickly upgraded, and ways found to stem virus transmission without driving citizens into worse poverty and hunger. • By 27 May, there had been more arrests than tests: this points to a greater concentration on punishment than on education of citizens – and also to the fact that vast numbers of citizens remain prepared to risk arrest and/or infection, as a lesser evil than starvation. It is of great concern that by 4 June, just as the virus was taking hold nationally, with numbers trebling between 25 and 28 May, there was NOT ONE dedicated government institution offering effective isolation and ICU care for critically ill Covid 19 in Bulawayo – a city that is the referral point for five provinces – the three Matabeleland provinces, Masvingoand Midlands. More than two months into lockdown, this is hard to understand. • There have been several instances of state abuses of civilians under lockdown. • Neither Thorngrove nor Ekusileni are ready for Covid 19 patients, and CEO of Mpilo has expressed concern about having cases there because of the possibility of cross infection. • Formal…

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Stay Home ­‐ or Feed Your Children: A Double Edged Sword

The lockdown was respected for the first week in Bulawayo, but highly localised activities have since resumed, including beer consumption, hair styling, all kinds of sales, without any meaningful physical distancing. This is seen as necessity, not defiance. • Forms of transport remain highly restricted, with only ZUPCO allowed to operate. This has not totally prevented urban movement: people simply walk into town using footpaths. • The terms of lockdown remain confusing and are being arbitrarily applied at times, depending on the idiosyncratic interpretation of police at any roadblock. There are glaring anomalies that may indicate corruption or cronyism – such as the widespread travel and harvesting of Mopani worms by those outside of Matabeleland, who seem able to travel long distances in private vehicles with impunity. • There were several instances of army beatings in Bulawayo in the week preceding the visit of Vice President Mohadi and others on 18 April, allegedly to check on the state of lockdown and to open Ekusileni Medical centre. Since then, army brutality seems to have eased. There were widespread reports throughout the first 21 days of lockdown, of over congestion in subsidized maize meal queues; of corruption and hoarding of stock by retailing outlets who sold some stock and reserved the rest for the black market; of retailers selling disproportionate amounts to the police and army. However, from 20 April, the availability of subsidized maize meal has been improved on the ground, since the introduction of new task force measures, which require…

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Report on The Corona Virus: 23 March to 3 April 2020

Zimbabwe officially announced its first case of the corona virus (COVID-­‐19) on the 20 March 2020. This was a 38-­‐year-­‐old man from Victoria Falls, who had travelled to the United Kingdom on the 7 March 2020 and returned via South Africa on 15 March. The disease first broke out in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province in China in December 2019 but has since spread to at least 164 countries. The outbreak was declared to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on the 30 January 2020 by the World Health Organization and given pandemic status on 11 March 2020. On 24 March, news outlets recorded Zimbabwe’s first Coronavirus death, that of Zororo Makamba, who died on 22 March in Harare. This was later confirmed by the state. He had returned some days earlier from New York City. The family released a timeline of his illness and death, which exposed dramatic shortfalls in the health management system at Wilkins Hospital, one of only two infectious diseases isolation hospitals in Zimbabwe. The hospital at that time had no ventilator, no wall plug to plug in a ventilator the family tracked down, no steady supply of oxygen. The narrative of this death shocked and mobilised many in Zimbabwe. By the end of March, reports were that conditions had materially improved at Wilkins, largely through donations of a solar system and ventilators. There are reports that there have been other donations of relevant supplies, from China and business people, but it is…

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Zimbabwe: The 2018 Elections and their Aftermath

After the coup in November 2017, a central part of the coup leader’s strategy was to move beyond the shadow of the coup through an election process that was seen to be peaceful and credible. As the Presidential spokesperson explained it, for ED Mnangagwa and his team July 30 ‘was not about winning votes qua votes, but about securing re-­‐engagement and the myriad benefits flowing therefrom’.1 Thus this ‘open for business’ mantra was accompanied by selective electoral reforms. These included: The introduction of the BVR voting system; the ensuring of a more peaceful and tolerant electoral environment; and an invitation to a wide range of international observers including the EU, US, SADC, AU, and the Commonwealth to monitor and report on the election. As part of the narrative of international re-­‐engagement, national unity and reconciliation that marked his discourse since the coup, Mnangagwa also conducted a series of meetings with minority communities. In June, Chiwenga met with the Asian business community, and In July the Zanu PF President met with the representatives of the white community and invoked the language of reconciliation that Mugabe deployed in the immediate post 1980 period: We should cease to talk about who owns farms in terms of colour. We should cease talking about that. A farmer-­‐black farmer, a white farmer-­‐is a Zimbabwean farmer. We should begin to develop a culture among our people to accept that we are one. The opposition, led by the largest party the MDC Alliance and its young leader Nelson…

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Old Beginnings

The political context of Zimbabwe and a report on Biometric Voter Registration (BVR): A National and Matabeleland Perspective   Political Context: 2017-­‐2018 Introduction: The Trigger of Factional Politics November 2017 witnessed tumultuous events in Zimbabwean politics. After months of factional struggles between the Lacoste faction led by then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, also nicknamed the crocodile, and the Generation 40 (G40) faction around President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, Mugabe fired Mnangagwa on the 6th November. This followed Mugabe’s warning to Mnangagwa two days before when Grace Mugabe was booed at a rally in Bulawayo. The President’s wife threatened the embattled Vice President with the call that the ‘snake must be hit on the head.’ This was the First Lady’s decisive move in her bid for the Vice Presidency in the upcoming Zanu PF congress in December 2017. This most recent factional struggle in Zanu PF follows a long history of violent internal battles within the party, from the years of the liberation struggle in the 1970s around ethnic and ideological questions. A few years prior to his own party exile, Mnangagwa played a central role in the removal of the previous Vice President Joice Mujuru, the wife of a key liberation commander Solomon Mujuru. As Miles Tendi has demonstrated, Mnangagwa, in support of the Mugabe’s, with the central involvement of Army Chief Constantine Chiwenga and the machinery of the military intelligence, conspired in the ousting of Joice Mujuru. This event took place after a long factional struggle between…

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The Persistent Crisis of the Zimbabwean State

Brian Raftopoulos, Director of Research Solidarity Peace Trust. Introduction Since the 2013 elections the convulsions within the ruling party have intensified to unprecedented levels. In response to this phenomenon there has been a good deal of analytical commentary on these struggles, focusing on the nature and causes of the contestations and centring mainly on the central question of Presidential succession. 1 Common to all the analyses is the challenge of stabilising and democratising the Zimbabwean state by dealing both with the legacies of colonial period and their continuities, as well as their new iterations, in the post-colonial era. This is not a problem peculiar to Zimbabwe, and in different forms continues to haunt the state in post-colonial Africa, as it is forced to contend with the legacies of both structural inequalities and despotic forms of rule. 2 In Zimbabwe this problem has manifested itself in a centralised, authoritarian ruling party that has conflated its operations with that of the state and overseen the erosion of the capacity of state structures to deliver to and protect the broader citizenry. In the rural areas the state has entrenched its power bases through a combination of coercion, a failure to democratise ‘traditional’ structures and the increasing placement of these under state/party control. Importantly, this consolidation of control in the countryside has also been the result of the delivery of land, with all its attendant problems, through the fast track land reform process. In the urban areas Zanu PF’s control over peri-urban land politics…

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