Elections in Zimbabwe: Autocracy and Stasis, or Democracy and Change?

July 10, 2018
03:00 pm - 04:30 pm

About the event

Since the Movement for Democratic Change’s founding in 1999, Zimbabwe has been going through a protracted struggle for democratization. An entrenched incumbent, fortified by a strong political-military network, has met aspirations for democratic improvement with strong resistance. This network, however, underwent a serious rupture last November when former allies effectively deposed its long-serving leader, Robert Mugabe. The new president, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has scheduled general elections for July 30, 2018. The upcoming polls present new political dynamics and a heightened level of anticipation both within and outside Zimbabwe. In his presentation, Dr. Alex Magaisa considered the struggle to achieve greater democratic accountability in today’s Zimbabwe. He assessed preparations for the approaching elections and discussed the prospects for democratization, including possible post-election scenarios and the roles of the military and the international community. Comments by Dr. Alexander H. Noyes followed.


  • Alex Magaisa, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

With comments from: 

  • Alexander H. Noyes, Senior Associate (Non-Resident), Africa Program, Center for Strategic & International Studies

Moderated by: 

  • Natalie Kay, Program Officer, Southern Africa, National Endowment for Democracy


About the Speakers

Dr. Alex Magaisa is a prominent Zimbabwean lawyer and constitutional expert currently teaching law at the University of Kent in England. Between 2012 and 2013, he was chief of staff and principal advisor to Morgan Tsvangirai, then Zimbabwe’s prime minister in a coalition government and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, the country’s main opposition party. In 2011–2012, Dr. Magaisa served as a key advisor to COPAC, the parliamentary committee that wrote Zimbabwe’s new Constitution, which was approved at a referendum and signed into law in 2013. He is the author of a widely acclaimed blog offering in-depth analyses of law and politics in Zimbabwe.

Dr. Alexander H. Noyes is a senior associate with the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an adjunct political scientist at the RAND Corporation, and an adjunct research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses. During his doctoral studies he carried out extensive research in Zimbabwe and recently traveled to Zimbabwe for a pre-election assessment mission. Dr. Noyes served as the team lead for Niger and Nigeria at the U.S. Security Governance Initiative, a White House initiative housed at the Department of State and focused on improving security-sector governance in six African countries.


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