The 2013 Elections in Zimbabwe: End of an Era for Human Rights Discourse?

Cornelias Ncube


This paper examines the implications of Zimbabwe’s 2013 harmonised elections on the opposition’s continued deployment of the rights-based discourse to make moral and political claims against and demands of the state. Since 2000, two polarising strands of the human rights discourse – 1) the right to self-determination and 2) civil and political rights – were deployed by the state and the opposition, respectively, in order to challenge extant relations and structures of power. The acutely strained state–society relations in post-2000 Zimbabwe emanated from human rights violations by the state as it responded to challenges to its political power and legitimacy. However, the relative improvement in the human rights situation in the country since the 2009 coalition government came into office, and during and since the recently concluded peaceful 2013 elections – the flawed electoral process itself notwithstanding – suggests a need for alternative new ways to make moral and political demands of the state in the future.

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