Nonviolent campaigns in Zimbabwe, 1999 to 2013 : strategies, methods and effectiveness
This study investigates the effectiveness of the strategies and methods that were employed by non-state actors as they engaged the state in nonviolent campaigns in order to address the socio-economic and political challenges experienced in Zimbabwe between 1999 and 2013. Using a combination of exploratory, descriptive and evaluative methods, the study argues that the nonviolent campaigns used in Zimbabwe were in the short term successful despite the state’s violent responses, which were at their peak during the run up to elections. The findings reveal that Women of Zimbabwe Arise, the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union and the National Constitutional Assembly among other non-state actors were effective in the short term. As a result Zimbabwe stands out as a plausible example where nonviolence as a strategy failed to end a brutal regime but enabled the non-state actor (the Movement for Democratic Change) to gain popular civilian support through its effective engagement of nonviolent strategies and methods. It was just its failure to estrange some of the pillars of violence (some members of the military, the police and the intelligence system) which curtailed the democratically elected opposition to get in into power. However, the brutal state responses directly and indirectly triggered a severe socio-economic and political down turn. This became apparent in the health, education, and water and sanitation services that were on the verge of collapse; increased corruption, growing displacement and emigration of Zimbabweans, and withdrawal of external support. The study concludes that the failure of nonviolent campaigns was partly a result of limited knowledge among Zimbabweans about what nonviolence involves, state brutality, poor planning and lack of patience by non-state actors and their resort to violence instead of sticking to nonviolence. It is nonetheless imperative to encourage civic society to cultivate a culture of nonviolence through the use of various agents of socialization which include the: home, school and the media.