Zimbabwe: The Military vs. Democracy

In this episode of Democracy Ideas, Christopher Walker interviews Charles Mangongera about the militarization of Zimbabwe’s politics, state institutions, and economy, as well as how the military’s role may affect Zimbabwe’s prospects for democratic reform.

Mr. Charles Mangongera is a Zimbabwean human rights and governance researcher who previously served as director of policy and research at the Movement for Democratic Change. He was a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow in residence at the International Forum for Democratic Studies from October 2013–February 2014. During his fellowship, Mr. Mangongera explored the role of the military in supplanting Zimbabwe’s democratic transition.

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Related Content

Read Charles Mangongera’s article, “A New Twilight in Zimbabwe? The Military vs. Democracy” from the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Democracy. (ProjectMUSE access is required) ::MORE

Watch video from Charles Mangongera’s fellowship presentation, “Zimbabwe’s Military and the Prospects for Democratic Reform” held on January 15, 2014.


Zimbabwe: targeting rights lawyer highlights sinister trend

A top aide to Zimbabwe's Prime MinisterJust over two weeks ago, Zimbabwe’s Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana, a close ally of President Robert Mugabe, announced that the government intended to reopen its case against lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, following her acquittal last November on charges that she had “obstructed justice,” writes Jeffrey Smith, the Africa Advocacy Officer at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. This charge was the result of Mtetwa – a universally acclaimed human rights attorney and recipient of the International Woman of Courage Award – having the audacity to demand a search warrant during a raid on the home of a client in March 2013.

Given Zimbabwe’s well-documented history of human rights abuses, Mtetwa’s clientele has traditionally consisted of individuals who comprise the political opposition and civil society, thereby making her a target herself. In fact, as a result of her legitimate work, Mtetwa has been severely beaten and routinely harassed by Zimbabwe’s often partisan authorities, which remain loyal to Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

Last year, Mtetwa’s arrest and subsequent detention and trial were roundly criticized as a farce. The Committee to Protect Journalists stated in a letter to then-Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs that the arrest was an “affront to the constitution and legal system of [Zimbabwe].” The European Union expressed “deep concern” and both the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network deemed the arrest “arbitrary.”