Does democracy promotion promote democracy? The Zimbabwean case

  • Ruvimbo Natalie MAVHIKI

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


Why has the increase in election funding by both Western international organizations and governmental donor agencies not resulted in the deepening and consolidation of democracy in most African countries? This study assesses this question with reference to Zimbabwe. Significant financial and technical commitments have been invested for the establishment and consolidation of democracy in Zimbabwe, but instead of democratic consolidation, Zimbabwe has oscillated from a de facto one party state to a competitive electoral democracy and then to an electoral authoritarian regime. What explains this puzzling phenomenon? Can democracy promotion promote democracy, and if not, what are the pre-requisites for successful elections and peaceful transfer of power? This project focuses on electoral democracy resulting in power transfer, where a successful election is followed by intra (within one party) or inter (between parties) transfer of power. In countries where elections are constantly held without an alternation of parties in power, can we say democracy promotion is ineffective or are there other factors that inhibit its effectiveness? In addressing these questions, this study argues that increases in election funding does not necessarily guarantee the advancement of democratization and good governance, although it finds that democracy promotion even where it does not result in power transfer does deepens democratic values. It does so by investigating the literature on the following variables presumed to affect democratization processes: democracy as a concept; democratic trends and its recession; democracy promotion’s motives, actors and strategies; democratization by elections in Africa; recipient practices; the role of opposition parties and their strength; the will of the recipient population; and the evolving problem of hybrid democracies given the rise of China and it's strengthening partnership and influence in Africa, all guided by electoral cycle processes. The study’s methodological contribution is a qualitative study of comprehensive empirical data of elections and democratic processes in Zimbabwe compared to those in Tanzania and Ethiopia. The study tests empirical generalizations on the development of democracy and African politics on Zimbabwe and evaluates various methodological approaches to the study of elections as they relate to Zimbabwe.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Political Science
SupervisorShalendra SHARMA (Supervisor) & Chien-peng CHUNG (Supervisor)

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