Browsing by Author "Jones, Indiana Baron"
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- ItemThe role & importance of democratic political institutions : Zimbabwe's regression towards authoritarianism(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2015-04) Jones, Indiana Baron; De Jager, Nicola; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Political Science.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis seeks to advance the understanding of Zimbabwe’s current political situation and how it has regressed towards authoritarianism. The assumption when initially embarking on this research assignment was that Zimbabwe’s political failures over the past three and a half decades since its independence in 1980 could be traced back to its original Constitution – the Lancaster House Constitution of 1979. The research in this thesis is guided by a central question: Has Zimbabwe’s failure to successfully institutionalise democratic institutions, in particular through the 1979 Constitution, contributed to its regression to authoritarianism, despite its initial democratic transition? This question is substantiated by way of four sub-questions: • What processes lead from democratic transition to authoritarianism? • What are the institutional prerequisites for democratic development? • How was Zimbabwe’s Lancaster Constitution negotiated? • Did Zimbabwe’s institutional framework set it up for failure? In order to answer the research questions, a descriptive and exploratory study with emphasis on a case study was conducted by drawing from both secondary as well as primary sources of data. The primary data examined is a compilation of original documents belonging to the late Leo Baron, former Acting Chief Justice of Zimbabwe (1983) and lawyer to Joshua Nkomo. These documents include a personal record and interviews previously conducted in 1983 for the national archives of Zimbabwe between Baron and the state, an original ZAPU document titled Proposals for a settlement in Southern Rhodesia as well as the original Lancaster House Constitution of 1979. This thesis used democratic consolidation as a theoretical framework to assess the processes that lead from democratic transition to authoritarianism as well as the institutional prerequisites for democratic development. By exploring the field of democratic consolidation, the author settled upon two analytical frameworks for this research assignment. The first is that of Kapstein and Converse, who argue that in order for a democracy to be effective the power of the executive needs to be successfully constrained. They contend that if the executive faces sufficient constraints only then is it accountable to the electorate. Secondly, this thesis focuses largely on the institutional framework developed by Dahl, which highlights a set of criteria underlining the political institutions necessary for a country to transition into a successful democracy. The key findings are that, firstly, Zimbabwe’s Lancaster Constitution was not the product of an inclusive and participatory process; instead it has been discovered that the process was one that lacked public participation and thus lacked wider legitimacy. It can thus be argued that the Lancaster House Conference, normally regarded as the platform upon which Zimbabwe’s negotiated transition to majority rule took place, was in fact not a negotiation at all; instead it resembled more of a handover of power with forced implications and unrealistic expectations. And secondly, that the Lancaster Constitution of 1979 did not sufficiently provide for a democratic political institutional framework for democratic development in Zimbabwe. Instead it failed to highlight the importance of, and make provision for, several important independent organs usually responsible for the smooth transition towards democratisation and the eventual consolidation of democracy.