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Coping with political corporatism: state-international non-governmental organisation relations in post-2000 Zimbabwe.

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This thesis focuses on the relations between International Non-governmental Organisations (INGOs) and the State in post-2000 Zimbabwe (2000–2009). This was an epoch depicting the democratisation process as posing a threat to the reign of Robert Gabriel Mugabe since 1980. My thesis is that in post-2000 Zimbabwe, INGOs and the State co-existed in a dichotomy where they needed each other. The aim of the study is to describe the nature of INGO-State relations in post-2000 Zimbabwe and construct an explanatory theoretical framework. The study is guided by the main research question: How have INGOs coped with political corporatism in the post-2000 Zimbabwe period? The study focuses on the nature of political repression directed at the INGOs by the post-2000 Zimbabwe and how the INGOs coped with the hostile political environment in fulfilling their mandate. The setting of the study is post-2000, a time when Zimbabwe was characterised by a severe economic meltdown, political contestation and political violence. The study employs two theoretical frameworks, namely Michael Foucault’s theory of governmentality and Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the State. The study is philosophically grounded in the interpretivist paradigm and adopts a case study design and a qualitative research approach. Purposeful and snowballing sampling techniques were used complementarily to access willing participants. The sample consisted of 21 informants from INGO officials and State officials. From the INGOs, five participants were engaged in humanitarian organisations while five were engaged in developmental INGOs. Eleven participants were evenly spread among five government departments. The semi-structured interview was used as the major instrument of data collection augmented by document analysis of the Private Voluntary Organisations’ Act (2002) and the NGO Bill (2004) and other statutory instruments regulating the operations of INGOs in post-2000 Zimbabwe. The study finds that from 2000 onwards, the State in Zimbabwe used its governmentalities and capital to effect political corporatism or repression against INGOs. The co-existence of INGOs and the State was characterised by antagonism and mistrust although they concomitantly needed each other. Political corporatism became the instrument for controlling INGOs, political ideology and political dissent. Confronted with dilemmas, INGOs had to adopt coping strategies in post-2000 Zimbabwe. The study advances the theory of expedience in explaining the nature of INGO–State relations in post-2000 Zimbabwe as its major contribution to knowledge on INGO–State relations. The theory of expedience posits that both parties to a conflict need each other on one hand and are in bitter rivalry on the other hand. The pendulum of power swings between political power and the power of resources. The study recommends the removal of hindrances to enhance the smooth operations of INGOs such as limiting the powers of the executive directors and ministers as enshrined in the NGO Bill (2004) and PVO Act (2002), repealing repressive laws, and freeing the airwaves and the media as a way of fostering the democratic participation of organisations and citizens. Democratic participation helps to cultivate mutual trust and confidence. The respect for human rights and rule of law cannot be over-emphasised.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.