Corruption and Elections in Zimbabwe
This article by Transparency International Zimbabwe seeks to elevate discussion on the nexus between corruption and elections in Zimbabwe; a discussion highly relevant especially now when the nation prepares for the 2018 elections. This article is informed by a Chapter on Corruption and the Political Landscape in Zimbabwe by L. Sachikonye extracted from the 2015 Annual State of Corruption Report by TI Z.
Corruption has remained endemic in present day Zimbabwe. Its endemic nature provides insights on how this scourge is linked to electoral processes and reproduction of political power in Zimbabwe. A close perusal of elections in Zimbabwe during the period from 2000 to 2015 shows that clientelism was an important feature despite allusions to ideologies of liberation and anti-imperialism, human rights and democracy by respective contending parties. Some of the key resources that featured during election campaigns included access to land (in the 2000 and 2002 and 2005 elections), to food in the (2002 election), to jobs and livelihood opportunities (in the 2008 election), to mining opportunities and informal economy as well as credit lines and housing stands (in the 2013 election). During the 2008 election campaign, the RBZ distributed farm implements prompting a complaint from opposition parties, that: ‘two weeks before the election, the RBZ is aiding ruling party to buy votes through the distribution of tractors and farm implements’ (as quoted in Zamchiya, 2014). It is important to note that this distribution was against the letter and spirit of the Electoral Act that prohibits such partisan exploitation of public resources during an election campaign. Given this precedence, TI Z has also noted with concern how urban land has become the new tool being exploited by the political establishment to lure and buy votes ahead of the 2018 elections.
Political corruption in the Zimbabwean context should therefore be viewed and understood as a means for ensuring that the political reproduction of power among various political groupings and actors is entrenched. Patterns of patronage of the Zimbabwean state have been sustained through the state’s stranglehold over resources such as land, mines, and by means of regulating acquisition such as contracts, permits, licenses and concessions. The link between corruption and elections in Zimbabwe can explain the lack of political willingness to curb corruption in Zimbabwe. Corruption in Zimbabwe, thrives because it is located in the political culture of the country, and those wielding political power will understandably not demonstrate any political willingness to curb it since their continued stay in power is mutually dependent on the manifestation of this political corruption. This leaves other actors in the anti-corruption value chain with a lot of work to do in fighting this type of corruption. TI Z proposes the following as some of the options in fighting political corruption
- Strong citizen power and action against corruption
- Strong anti-corruption strategies focusing on effective laws under the guardianship of an independent judiciary and strong enforcement of such laws,
- Robust anti-corruption institutions;
- Advocacy actions by CSOs against political patronage and vote buying.