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Title: Democracy in Zimbabwe : from liberation to liberalization
Authors: Nhema, A.G.
Date: 1994
Publisher: Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, CA
Abstract: When Zimbabwe emerged from its settler status in 1980, the new popularly elected government inherited a corporatist structure originally designed to serve settler interests. Rather than dismantle that structure to reflect nationalist ambitions and the "new order" the new regime's corporatist inclinations became increasingly compatible with this inherited framework. The established corporatist structure was viewed as providing an institutional framework through which the new state could impose its hegemonic position thereby paving the way for the establishment of its one-party state. Yet by the late 1980s, attempts to impose such a monolithic structure gave way to demands for political as well as economic liberalization. Using a wide range of congruous analytical frameworks that include pluralist democratic theory, statism, and state corporatism, this thesis examines the dialectics of political liberalization in Zimbabwe over time from the settler period to the early 1990s. It asserts that democratic and civil society developments were shaped and conditioned by contradictions and contradistinctions between on the one hand the pluralism of social and economic life and on the other inherited corporatist arrangements and practices that militated against the establishment of a fully-fledged democratic society. It further contends that the post-settler state's initial decision to maintain the status quo and perpetuate corporatist policies put in place by the settlers was motivated by its desire to ensure that alternative centres of power were prevented from arising. A system of control and cooptation of civil society dovetailed neatly with the regime's goals of restructuring civil society along lines that posed minimum threats to its hegemonic position.
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