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A multi-disciplinary research project in north-western Zimbabwe focuses on the Nambya state of the Zimbabwe Culture. The new research suggests that the development of the Nambya state was contemporaneous with other Zimbabwe Culture states and not the result of a direct migration from the Great Zimbabwe state.
The Introduction situates the book within a conceptual framework, focused on theorising the relationships between law, state and society, as well as the role of performance in courtroom trials. It then explains why Zimbabwe offers an important case study to examine the questions raised by this framework, and describes the methodologies used to conduct the study. Finally, it sets out the structure of the remaining chapters of this book.
Chapter 8 focuses on a second interaction between Gukurahundi history, law and citizenship by looking at the trial of visual artist Owen Maseko. For his exhibition on the experiences of Gukurahundi, Maseko stood accused of ‘inciting tribal hatred’. In their courtroom narratives, prosecutors elaborated on this accusation to communicate ZANU-PF’s continued control over instruments of coercion to a ‘Matabele’ audience. Maseko and his defence team, in turn, performed in a rule-bound manner to draw attention to Maseko as a citizen with the freedom to express his interpretations of history, and to put these in the public domain for debate, rather than as a ‘criminal’ for failing to align with ZANU-PF’s historical narrative. These different forms of courtroom performance highlight how the Gukurahundi as a violent historical event continued to inform negotiations over citizenship, and the understandings of law’s legitimacy and state authority that they encompassed, in this region.
Chapter 7 situates the founding of the Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) within regional and ethnic politics to examine the formation of a local human rights network, Abammeli. When the MLF leaders were charged with treason, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) lawyers based in Harare rejected the MLF case, despite the fact that it was working as the leading defence council in the Gwisai treason trial at that time. Formed as a response to ZLHR’s refusal to defend the MLF leaders, Abammeli’s formation highlights how the historical place of law shaped legal and state consciousness in Matabeleland. Abammeli’s lawyers positioned themselves first and foremost as residents in, and citizens of, Matabeleland, and they articulated an understanding of citizenship that granted legitimacy to law if it protected a shared humanity, rather than a specific political agenda.
Chapter 5 focuses on the material and sensory conditions of Harare’s Magistrates’ Courts at Rotten Row. It specifically examines how human rights lawyers and their clients incorporated the material and sensory conditions in these courts into their courtroom performances, which drew attention to the shortcomings of the courts as spaces in which to the display state authority. While the Magistrates’ Courts were full of spatial and symbolic trademarks that aimed to highlight the power of the law, the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe after 2000 had severely damaged the courts’ material condition. The real and symbolic effects of this material decline undermined law’s authority. For human rights lawyers, these conditions were further indicative of the government’s preoccupation with law’s coercive rather than legitimating utility. Through visual, olfactory and auditory reminders of the horrific conditions in police detention, ZANU-PF demonstrated its control over activists' and lawyers' bodies and minds. Lawyers and their clients, however, also used these sensory dimensions to contest the state's authority. By calling attention to their dirty, damaged and smelly bodies in the dock, lawyers and defendants aimed to expose the decline in moral and professional conduct they observed within Zimbabwe’s judicial and police services.
Chapter 1 expands on the relationship between history, law and politics in Zimbabwe. It traces historical trends in the mobilisation of law’s coercive power by consecutive colonial and post-colonial governments, locates the development of legal consciousness in citizens’ relations to the colonial legal system and examines debates over ‘professionalism’ and ‘justice’ between the executive and the judiciary, and within the judiciary itself. It then situates the attacks on members of the judiciary and the rule of law after 2000 in the context of ZANU-PF’s mobilisation of a selective historical narrative, its ‘patriotic history’, to argue that conceptualisations of justice took on fundamentally new forms which shape the understandings of the legitimacy of law and its relation to state authority explored within this thesis, but which are rooted in this longer history.
Chapter 2 demonstrates how, after 2000, ZANU-PF extended its political control over the judiciary by staffing its institutions with political appointees. Within the attorney general’s office, such political interference ran from the attorney general himself down to prosecutors working on ZANU-PF’s ‘instructions’. It argues, however, that when we look at the working conditions in the Attorney General’s office more closely, the fragmented hegemony of law within the Zimbabwean state becomes evident. ZANU-PF-instructed prosecutors – the ‘good boys’ – who were willing to set aside their professional conduct to toe the party political line, sat side by side with ‘rebel’ prosecutors, individuals who conducted themselves impartially and did their job ‘professionally’ in an effort to safeguard ‘substantive justice’. In its attempts to exert political control over the attorney general’s office, the ZANU-PF-led government had to contend with historical debates over state professionalism, which rooted law’s legitimacy in legal institutions’ capacity to deliver justice, and tied state authority to the protection of this capacity. In their performances, ‘rebel’ prosecutors positioned themselves as actors within a wider community of judicial officials, human rights lawyers, activists and citizens that shared this consciousness of the value of professionalism.
Chapter 6 moves away from the focus on performances by human rights lawyers and defendants to look at the narratives state prosecutors told in the court. It focuses on the trial of Munyaradzi Gwisai, leader of the International Socialist Organisation in Zimbabwe and his five co-defendants. Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring uprisings, ZANU-PF used its courtroom narratives to delineate the limits to the party’s tolerance for political protest, and articulated the consequences faced by those who were thought to be testing these limits. Two state prosecutors, Michael Reza and Edmore Nyazamba, and their star witness, Jonathan Shoko, reminded the court, and the public within and beyond its wall, of ZANU-PF’s responsibility for upholding the security of the nation against local manifestations of ‘foreign’ and ‘imperialist’ influences.
The Conclusion argues that by framing political contestations through and over law in Zimbabwe within the binary of repression and resistance, we obscure the diverse and productive ways that the legitimacy of law, and its relation to state authority, were publicly contested after 2000. Instead, it situates the notion of government as a ‘legal fiction’ alongside the arguments made across the book. Three sites of contestation emerged. In the first, the dynamics within state institutions were shown to shape legal consciousness. In the second, the relationship between legal consciousness and particular imaginations of citizenship proved to be fertile ground for the articulation of critiques of the government in ways that remained embedded in expectations and ideals of law. In the third, we saw how the interactions between different actors’ legal and state consciousness within the courtroom produced narratives that articulated contradictory claims to state authority. Taken together, this shows us that, among Zimbabwean citizens and civil servants alike, the law, as both a set of institutions and practices and as a political ideal, continued to be central to expressions of a particular kind of citizenship.
Chapter 4 examines the experiences of young, black, urban-based, and predominantly male civic and political activists, who were pervasively persecuted by the police through violent arrests and inhumane conditions in detention. For ZANU-PF, the stages of arrest and detention offered a public platform on which to perform the party’s portrayal of activists as ‘criminals’. Framing the physical violence, mental torment and isolation that marked their treatment at the hands of the police as an experience which would not occur in a ‘normal’, ‘rule-bound’ and ‘democratic’ society, activists in turn refused to accept these efforts to criminalise them. ZANU-PF’s use of the law, activists argued, could not grant it authority. Activists were confronted, however, with the fact that their understandings of their arrest and detention as ‘illegitimate’ were not universally shared. In the eyes of certain family members they were still ‘criminalised’, despite the fact that they were targeted for arrest due to their political activities, rather than for, for example, committing petty theft. This highlights the existence of multiple legal consciousnesses in Zimbabwe, some of which are built less on notions of how the law should work, and more on a recognition of the power of law itself.
Chapter 3 examines how citizens articulated and mobilised their legal and state consciousness when they engaged with Zimbabwe’s politicised legal institutions. Through the selective application of the law, ZANU-PF could endanger the safety of individuals reporting crimes to the police or taking cases to court. Citizens like Patrick and Father Mkandla situated themselves against these practices, demanding that the police and the courts ‘follow the rules’ by interacting with these institutions as if they were rule-bound. In these expressions of their legal consciousness, both men played upon divisions among civil servants working within state institutions (identified in Chapter 2) to achieve occasional ‘successes’ through the law. Their commitment to rule-bound behaviour was also an expression of their state consciousness. By ‘remaining on the right side of law’ themselves, these men could make claims to a particular kind of citizenship that demanded an extension of the authority of the state beyond its ability to guarantee ‘rights’, to a broader responsibility to safeguard citizens’ human dignity, civility, and morality.
Focusing on political trials in Zimbabwe's Magistrates' Courts between 2000 and 2012, Susanne Verheul explores why the judiciary have remained a central site of contestation in post-independence Zimbabwe. Drawing on rich court observations and in-depth interviews, this book foregrounds law's potential to reproduce or transform social and political power through the narrative, material, and sensory dimensions of courtroom performances. Instead of viewing appeals to law as acts of resistance by marginalised orders for inclusion in dominant modes of rule, Susanne Verheul argues that it was not recognition by but of this formal, rule-bound ordering, and the form of citizenship it stood for, that was at stake in performative legal engagements. In this manner, law was much more than a mere instrument. Law was a site in which competing conceptions of political authority were given expression, and in which people's understandings of themselves as citizens were formed and performed.
In this chapter, we assess the links between the peaceful borders of the Southern African countries and the occurrence and proliferation of illicit transnational flows. Peace broke out in Southern Africa following the end of the regional and civil wars involving South Africa and its neighbors, and especially the domestic peaceful change that took place in South Africa in 1994, ending the apartheid regime and leading to the normalization of relations between South Africa and its neighbors. The threat of interstate warfare and violence in the SADC region has receded in the last twenty years, as the region has experienced a significant transition from war to stable peace. At the same time, in the aftermath of peace and integration, open and porous peaceful borders among the Southern African countries have enabled the occurrence and proliferation of both licit and illicit flows.
Although Brecht entered the South African repertoire only in the 1950s, 1930s political theater drew communists and other leftists local and expatriate including Kurt Baum who worked with Piscator and thus in the same milieu as Brecht in 1920s Berlin. Despite notoriety as a leftist writer, Brecht featured as a star of European art theater and a sign of high culture on university stages in the1950s and in subsidized theaters in the 1960s striving to represent “Western civilization” against alleged threats from communism or African nationalism. In contrast, the anti-apartheid theater of the 1970s–1990s from Fugard and Serpent Players to Junction Avenue Theatre with Purkey, Makhene and others, and the Market Theatre with Simon and others deployed the Lehrstück, epic theater, and Brechtian pedagogy to challenge the power of state and capital with activists and workers as well as professional performers. Postapartheid theater has borrowed from Boal as well as Brecht to create participatory dramaturgies for tackling crises such as AIDS, gender violence, and corruption in state and local government.
This article theorizes the Zimbabwean writer Stanlake Samkange’s turn from the novel to philosophy as an effort to circumvent the representational pressure exerted by African cultural traumatization. In breaking with the novel form to coauthor a philosophical treatise called Hunhuism or Ubuntuism in the same year as Zimbabwe achieves independence (1980), Samkange advances a comportment-based, deontological alternative to the psychic or subjective model of personhood that anchors trauma theory. Revisiting the progression from his most achieved novel, The Mourned One, to Hunhuism or Ubuntuism thus offers fresh insight into the range of options available to independence-era writers for representing the relationship between African individuality and collectivity. At the same time, it suggests a complementary and overlooked relationship between novelistic and philosophical forms in an African context.
During Zimbabwe's struggle for national liberation, thousands of black African students fled Rhodesia to universities across the world on refugee scholarship schemes. To these young people, university student activism had historically provided a stable route into political relevance and nationalist leadership. But at foreign universities, many of which were vibrant centres for student mobilisations in the 1960s and 1970s and located far from Zimbabwean liberation movements’ organising structures, student refugees were confronted with the dilemma of what their role and future in the liberation struggle was. Through the concept of the ‘frontier’, this article compares the experiences of student activists at universities in Uganda, West Africa, and the UK as they figured out who they were as political agents. For these refugees, I show how political geography mattered. Campus frontiers could lead young people both to the military fronts of Mozambique and Zambia as well as to the highest circles of government in independent Zimbabwe. As such, campus frontiers were central to the history of Zimbabwe's liberation movements and the development of the postcolonial state.
Promoting human-carnivore coexistence is a main component of carnivore conservation. Coexistence programmes are usually informed by attitudinal studies that evaluate intended behaviour towards carnivores. This questionnaire survey assesses attitudes of governmental and non-governmental conservation stakeholders in Zimbabwe towards living with carnivores, large carnivore species and the conservation of wildlife, and determines whether being part of coexistence programmes (CAMPFIRE, TFCAs) positively affects attitudes. Stakeholder attitudes were most positive when employment was directly related to wildlife and stakeholders had knowledge about and exposure to carnivores. Stakeholders who depend on livestock and/or had little knowledge about and less exposure to carnivores were most negative, this included governmental stakeholders responsible for natural resource management. Positive attitudes were largely based on the aesthetic and economic value of carnivores, while negative attitudes were based on the fear of livestock loss and perceived danger to humans. Subsistence farmers were the most negative stakeholders, as such, the focus on this group to promote coexistence seems justified. However, although some stakeholders were more positive in CAMPFIRE areas or TFCAs, CAMPFIRE and TFCAs failed to improve attitudes of subsistence farmers, which highlights a need to evaluate and adapt these programmes.
Until recently, Zimbabwean insolvency law was unconcerned with rights of employees on insolvency of the employer. The new Insolvency Act points in a different direction. It guarantees limited rights of workers in their capacity as creditors and as employees. There is a convergence of insolvency law and labour law. These are legal disciplines with contradictory philosophies. This contribution analyses the rights of employees on insolvency in Zimbabwe. The review is informed by international best practices. The article establishes that Zimbabwe follows the “model two: bankruptcy preference approach”. It brings to the fore fundamental weaknesses inherent with this approach in the Zimbabwean context. The article argues that the protection of employees’ rights on insolvency can be enhanced if Zimbabwe follows the “pro-employee approach” and the “bankruptcy priority-guarantee fund approach”. It concludes by advocating for the alignment of the Insolvency Act with international best practices, the constitution and labour legislation.
The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe's land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation across medium-scale farms, based on qualitative-quantitative studies in two contrasting sites (Mvurwi and Masvingo-Gutu). Diverse processes of accumulation are identified across commercial, aspiring and struggling farmers, and linked to contrasting patterns of agricultural production and sale, asset ownership, employment and finance. The ability to mobilise finance, influenced by the state of the macro-economy, as well as forms of political patronage, is identified as a crucial driver. Contrary to assertions that A2 farms are largely occupied by ‘cronies’ and that they are unproductive and under-utilised, a more differentiated picture emerges, with important implications for policy and the wider politics of Zimbabwe's countryside following land reform.
Of the states examined in this research, Zimbabwe has the most in-country variation in response to the Kimberley Process. Since a large diamond find in the Marange diamond fields in 2006, Zimbabwe has had five different regulatory strategies in response to the Kimberley Process that are defined in this study. Furthermore, Zimbabwe became a controversial and pivotal case for the Kimberley Process when the government took over the diamond fields in 2008. This led NGOs and other governments to accuse the Zimbabwean state of human rights abuses and complain that the Kimberley Process was too weak to act forcefully in this case. However, while the Zimbabwean state has ignored many other international agreements there has always been at least some effort to stay within the Kimberley Process, thus leading to interesting levels of variation in the government’s strategy toward the process over time. This research argues that variation in regulatory policy in the diamond sector is due to the political economy of factional rivalries within ZANU-PF that have long dominated Zimbabwean politics. In this context the Kimberley Process was heavily politicized and used as an instrument to gain market share.