The Institute for Public Affairs in Zimbabwe (IPAZIM) and Elections Resource Centre in Zimbabwe (ERC) are calling for book chapters on a monograph on elections and governance in Zimbabwe provisionally titled Battle Lines: Elections, Contestations and Democratisation in Zimbabwe. The objective of the monograph is to combine theoretical conceptualisations of elections & democratisation and empirical research on electoral processes in post-colonial Zimbabwe especially with regard to the protracted process of post-colonial state formation and democratization.


Broader Context: Elections, Nation-State Formation and Democratisation

In a revealing survey conducted by MPOI and Afrobarometer it was recorded only about 38% of Zimbabwe’s population regard elections as an effective tool for making elected political leaders accountable. Furthermore, the survey noted that elections were not an effective tool of removing non-performing leaders. In the context of what has been called the ‘Zimbabwe crisis’; elections, the electoral processes, the institutions managing the elections and the laws regulating the conduct of elections have been an arena of intense contestation leading scholars to conclude that Zimbabwe’s political elites are ‘defying the winds of change’. The former Vice-President of Zimbabwe Joshua Nkomo highlighted the violence of the 1980 election, another opposition leader Edgar Tekere who led ZUM also raised the question of violence. More recently Zimbabwe’s opposition parties formed a coalition National Elections Reform Agenda (NERA) to press for electoral reform and former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, noted that his 2002 electoral court challenge was pending for years. In a constitutional democracy, the conduct of elections provides a critical measure of the level of democratisation and the stability of the polity. On the other hand, those with state power have quizzingly and scathingly taunted the opposition: ‘do you want us to reform ourselves out of power”? The intense contestation over the electoral process and the outcome of the elections led to the formation of Government of National Unity (GNU). Historically civil society has also mobilised for constitutional reform and pressed for elections to be free and fair, to be held within the laws of the country, and also the observance of the SADC Guidelines on Elections and other regional and international conventions including but not limited to the African Charter for Human Rights (ACPHR).


Contested Terrain: Elections and Elections Management in Perspective

In the case of Zimbabwe from the moment of independence to the tumultuous turn of the 21 st Century elections have become very contested. Our focus in this book is to trace, analyse, debate and reveal why and how elections have solicited such contentious fault-lines in Zimbabwe. We bring together an historical and political analytic framework which seeks to further reveal the processes which have influenced electoral politics in Zimbabwe – this has become especially so in the context of Zimbabwe passing a new constitution in 2013 which is supposed to be a significant departure from a very authoritarian state politics to one more liberal and based on a constitutional democracy. Pressured from within and from without even the political regimes which do not want elections had to give way – some of them would become what democracy scholars called ‘competitive authoritarian’ (Levitsky and Way, 2009).


Towards a Better Future: What will make elections legitimate?

On one hand, the new constitution is a significant departure from the way the electoral process was conducted in the past which had often led to contested outcomes. The monograph by providing a timely overview, analysis and interpretation of the legislative and institutional shifts that have occurred will provide a much-needed intervention for civil society to be up to date and develop strategic interventions which can built a more legitimate electoral process reduce conflict and in the process help consolidate the development and institutionalization of democratic forms of government where citizens vote ‘freely and fairly’.

The main areas of research which can serve as a guide are as follows:

  1. Electoral Law and Regulations in Zimbabwe: Constitutional and Institutional Overview
  2. Mediating Electoral Processes: the contested role of public and private media in electoral cycles
  3. Women, Politics and the Electoral Process: A Critical Analysis of gender relations and the electoral process
  4. Youth and participation and non-participation in electoral processes in Zimbabwe.
  5. Ideology and Political Practice: A review of the ideological contestations by the political parties
  6. Campaign Strategies: An analysis of the differing and competing strategies adopted by political parties during the electoral process
  7. Truth to Power: the role and shifts in civil society campaigns around the electoral process in Zimbabwe
  8. Zimbabwe’s ‘re-configured political economy’ and the electoral process especially informality, agrarian transformation and urbanization.



Call for Abstracts: August 2017
Notice of Accepted Abstracts: September 2017.

The chapters will be expected to be between 5-6,000 words and preference will be given to abstracts whose papers are empirically grounded, informed by practice and will have theoretical analysis but also generally accessible to the public and non-academic audiences.

Submission and Further Guidelines on the Concept Note Please contact Email:

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