Master’s Thesis in Political Science Democratization in southern Africa: Process and Challenges : A case study of Zimbabwe’s divergent path in its democratic transition

University essay from Högskolan Dalarna/Statsvetenskap

Abstract: Despite promising prospects to transition towards a democracy after attaining its independence in 1980, Zimbabwe somehow fell into authoritarian rule and became increasingly undemocratic compared to other countries in southern Africa. Therefore, this thesis seeks to understand why a “most likely” case of democratization in the region failed and instead slipped into authoritarianism between 1980 and 2000. The single case study investigates a set of elite level dynamics, using components of process tracing and case study techniques. The analysis is built upon a theoretical framework focusing on dimensions of power dynamics in terms of Bratton’s power capture, power division and power sharing along with Svolik’s politics of authoritarian rule and the dominant party system. The research indicates that the political party Zanu-Pf, under the leadership of Mugabe, has dominated the political arena since the first democratic elections of 1980. With the help of the party’s majority, the ruling elites captured, divided, shared and controlled power; to serve authoritarian ends that ensured regime survival at the expense of democracy.

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