The politics of disruption: war veterans and the local state in Zimbabwe

McGregor, JoAnn (2002) The politics of disruption: war veterans and the local state in Zimbabwe. African Affairs, 101 (402). pp. 9-37. ISSN 0001-9909

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Abstract

This article is about war veterans' recent assault on the local state in Zimbabwe. From February 2001, veterans stormed local authorities in districts where the political opposition had strong support-primarily but not exclusively in Matabeleland and Midlands Provinces. They locked district council and other local goverment offices, closed some schools and demanded the dismissal of numerous officials, councilors, teachers and workers. Officials were suspended from their jobs and subjected to a procedure of 'vetting' by war veterans in which they were accused of a wide range of offences from dancing on the photograph of the President, to campaigning for the opposition party, to maladministration and corruption. This process has received little comment from President Mugabe, war veterans, or party leaders- in contrast to war veterans' interventions in other areas, such as land and labour issues- yet its consequences are potentially far-reaching. Here the focus is on Matabeleland North. I investigate the veterans' demands, the ad hoc bodies set up to deal with them, and local reactions to the closures and suspensions. I argue that war veterans' interventions have politicized all areas of public sector work and have seriously undermined the scope for professionalism within the public service. The ruling party has used veterans' disruption to newly conflate party and state structures at district and provincial level, and to set up new channels of authority. In so doing, Zanu(PF) has gained more control over the local state. However, the party's use of the veterans has also produced unintended effects related to the priorities of particular groups of veterans and their exploitation of a range of local grievances.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Depositing User: Nadya Herrera Catalan
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2015 07:26
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2015 07:26
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/52800
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