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No way forward without consensus

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This paper discusses a document produced in 2006 by church leaders which claimed to present a “vision” of “a way forward” in the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe. We suggest that the document served rather to reinforce the status quo, specifically the hegemony of Mugabe’s government. We argue that, by insisting that the greatest problem in Zimbabwe is “lack of a national vision”, the document promoted consensus, which resonated with Mugabe’s own position. We suggest that four major strategies were used to achieve this: assertion of the primarily spiritual nature of Zimbabwe’s crisis; insistence on the shared responsibility of all Zimbabweans; obfuscation of agency for the crisis and delegitimization of political opposition as a route to change. Finally, we point out that these strategies failed, as the document in its original form was censored before its launch, illustrating the tendency for President Mugabe to give the impression of opening democratic space, only to close it off.
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Keywords: Zimbabwe crisis; agency; church-state relations; consensus; national vision; shared responsibility; spiritual values; textual strategies

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 15, 2009

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