First Response: The Zimbabwe Dictatorship

All three readings for this week deal with what an authoritarian government looks like in Zimbabwe. The first reading, Feeling Precarious by Rudo Mudiwa is more visceral than the other two readings and describes a street-focus picture of what everyday state violence looks like. There is a particular care paid to the concept of almost intuition, of people who have experienced so much of this violence that they can avoid it based on subtle cues. In particular, the article describes taxi drivers and sex workers as having this intuition

The second article compares Zimbabwe and Italian fascism. They share certain key characteristics such as a seizure and redistribution of land to party supporters and a focus on cleansing the nation of enemies. A revision of history in order to paint the party as the main liberators and real warriors of the nation is also found in both cases. So, is Zimbabwe similar enough to Italy to classify it as a fascist state rather than just an authoritarian one?

The third reading, Rethinking Chimurenga and Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe: A Critique of Partisan National History discusses the specific context of the Zimbabwean dictatorship. It attempts to build a national hegemony in a way that conflicts with how linguistically, tribally and religiously diverse the country is. In doing so, it ties itself to past liberation from colonization and constructs a history of sharp dichotomies that group their enemies in with former colonists. The continued influence of these ideas hinders newer political theories that are starting to spring up in Zimbabwe.

Overall, these readings discuss both how the Zimbabwe dictatorship has factors in common with past fascist governments and how it is a unique state in itself. Which one do you think is more significant? How does this government complicate other discussions surrounding post-colonial Africa and the progression of the continent?

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