‘Zimbabwe is a deeply divided society’

As Zimbabwe prepares for national elections in a few months, analysts say political fault lines will deepen further and called on political leaders to unite the nation.  

According to political analyst Effie Ncube, those running for public office must have a broader vision of restructuring Zimbabwe, changing its value system, and promoting unity, peace, and development.

“There is no doubt that Zimbabwe is a deeply divided society, which in many ways even electorally has produced many nations in the country – there is one rural, one urban, one poor, one rich,” Ncube said in an interview with CITE on the state of the country ahead of elections. 

Ncube argues that Zimbabwe’s social and political divisions have been deliberately created in order for those in power, regardless of position, to maintain their status quo.  

“It is not something that came as an accident. What we have in the form of institutions, even the culture in Zimbabwe, the ecosystem is deliberate engineering to get certain outcomes. Somebody will say ‘I need violent institutions to get into power or retain power. So it’s not something that is happening without direction,” he noted.

Since these divisions taking place in Zimbabwe are “organised, well directed and well-intended” to create specific outcomes, Ncube lamented there were no leaders to reverse the situation at the moment.

“What needs to happen is to have society itself, the citizens, who will say ‘we are fed up with a violent Zimbabwe. We are fed up with disputed elections. We won’t tolerate this,’ and it becomes one of the things they use when deciding who will lead them as citizens,” said the political analyst.

“People must be able to say, ‘this man or this woman is not representing the value system that we want to be known as internationally’ and then reject the violent leaders, corrupt leaders and  people who are not representing the kind of leadership they desire.”

Ncube warned that if the polarised culture will continue, if citizens themselves are complicit in the divisions and support actors who cause the divisions.

He also advised that people must also go beyond removing individuals and replacing them with the same type of leaders. 

“We have precedence in this country. We have already seen that is not enough to change a leader but what must change is a culture, a system, a culture of the way things are done,” Ncube said.  

“Remember, in 1980, Ian Smith and his people were removed. But the laws that they governed us through were retained – the institutions of violence, torture they used against the very people were retained. The very institutions that tortured Robert Mugabe and others, detained them for 10 years or so, were retained by the same people who also directed them against others and are now directed at the opposition.” 

Another political analyst, Bernard Magugu concurred that if people do not seek to change this dividing culture politically, Zimbabwe will not reform. 

“You can take over the State from Zanu PF, but if you don’t reform the State, you retain the same State where only people and individuals have changed. Zimbabweans need to think extensively and not say, ‘we have this president then we will remove and put that one’ because that will not reform or unite Zimbabwe,” he said. 

Magugu noted that as long as the current divisive systems, laws and institutions remain in place, Zimbabwe will also remain in the situation it is in. 

“The country will rise unless the intention of those talking about change really want to change society comprehensively. Otherwise you will only change the surname of the president or the MP and still have the same bad performance,” he said. 

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