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Quo Vadis Zimbabwe: an Issue of Values

Alan Tonkin

As the crisis in Zimbabwe worsens and the country slips further into turmoil, Alan Tonkin has forwarded this piece he wrote for the Global Values Network web site he runs. GVN is one of the most advanced projects in the world at using Spiral Dynamics to monitor shifts in societies and assess impacts at national, international and even global levels.

Alan’s piece not only presents an incisive analysis; it draws attention to both the very real human tragedies being experienced in Zimbabwe and the dangers which could engulf the region if the country is allowed to implode.

I am honoured to publish Alan’s work as a ‘guest blog’.


Different politics – different world views
The issue of the release of the final Zimbabwe Election results is being contested by both ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change but for very different reasons.  Before going into these reasons one needs to look behind the claims and counter claims in order to more fully understand why there is this dispute.

Zimbabwe: a brief review of recent history
Going back over the period following the Second World War, Southern Rhodesia was still a British colony which in 1953 was incorporated into the Federation of Rhodesia & Nyasaland.  Following the independence of both Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia in 1964 (which became Malawi and Zambia respectively), Ian Smith rejected majority rule and declared independence from Britain in 1965 in order to protect BLUE Order ‘civilised values’.

Shortly thereafter both Joshua Nkomo (ZAPU) and Robert Mugabe’s (ZANU) forces took to the bush with assistance from Zambia and Mozambique.  The bush war took a terrible toll on the population of Rhodesia in the period leading to the Lancaster House talks in the late 1970’s.  It was during this period that Britain put pressure on South Africa to persuade Ian Smith to settle with the nationalists under Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe.

Following the Lancaster House Agreement in 1979 and the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980 there was a period of national reconciliation and prosperity before the change in tactics and strategy by ZANU-PF in the late 90s. It was at this time that the economy began to decline while there was also increasing evidence of serious corruption in government.

Following the referendum of 2000 and the flawed elections in 2002 ZANU-PF decided to unilaterally take over farms from the predominantly white commercial farming community.  Up to this stage Zimbabwe had been the ‘bread basket’ of the region with its commercial farmers making it self sufficient in feeding the nation. In addition, it was a major global tobacco producer providing a significant amount of foreign exchange for the national budget. 

The period since 2000 has resulted in the Zimbabwe economy declining significantly on an annual basis with inflation currently running at a figure in excess of 150,000% p.a. In addition, life expectancy for women is the lowest in the world at 34 years, with males being marginally better at 37 years. A third of the population are estimated to have HIV/AIDS and over 10% of children die before the age of 5 years. 

It is the above scenario of economic decline that is prompting much of the conflict in Zimbabwe.  Around 80% of the economically active population are unemployed and there are major shortages of food, fuel products for transport and heating and other day-to-day commodities. However, the ZANU-PF elite are enormously wealthy, with many owning both farms and businesses and sending their children overseas to obtain the best education. 

The results of the election are linked to providing a prosperous and better Zimbabwe for all its citizens. However, at this stage as the election results have still not been released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a body appointed by the President, this is still in doubt. 

Values and how they influence the situation
In considering the graphic below adapted from the World Competitiveness Report of 1992 (updated in 2002), it clearly indicates on the lower axis, the progress in values made in Europe over the last 300 years. Equally, the current situation very clearly shows the wide spread of values exhibited across a sample of countries around the globe in the top curve. 

In this diagram Zanu-PF is largely situated between the Tribal PURPLE Zone and the RED Power Collective Zone. On the other hand the MDC has a strong BLUE Order base moving more towards ORANGE Value Creation and Individual participation.

Competitiveness Values

The ongoing global movement from ‘Collective’ to ‘Individual Values’ is a critical part of the development of a Western style democracy which is impossible under a collective values set.  In order to better illustrate this, I will use the graphic developed by Dr Don Beck showing the different stages of values, democracy and economic systems.

Politicial-Economic Systems

The values of the current ZANU-PF Government
The present ZANU-PF government – and particularly those of the party leadership – sits firmly in the RED Power value.  Mugabe and the ZANU-PF leadership have over the years been shown to be totally ruthless in putting down any opposition to their regime  In the early stages of Mugabe’s rule in the 1980’s there were encouraging signs of BLUE Order; but over the years there has been regression to his original RED Power values base.

This has been particularly well demonstrated over the years from the bush war when villagers were often intimidated by ZANU-PF as well as the security forces.  After Independence this was followed by the purges in Matabeleland in 1983/84 by ZANU-PF’s  5th Brigade under the direct control of Mugabe. Hundreds of villagers were massacred at this time.  Subsequently, villagers have been pressured at election time by ZANU-PF thugs. In addition, the so-called ‘War Veterans’ have terrorised both white farmers and their labour, who were often born on the farms.  Many of the black farm workers were evicted from farms with nowhere to go.

The above graphics assist in understanding the battle for the ‘hearts & minds’ of the Zimbabwe population by the various political players. In the past the ZANU-PF base was largely in the tribal rural areas with the MDC having its main base in the towns and cities.  However, following the eviction of many city dwellers by ZANU-PF and the destruction of their homes and move to the villages, there has been a change of values in the rural areas.  In the latest elections, the creation of additional rural seats and the consolidation of many urban seats was seen to favour ZANU-PF.  However, this appears to have worked in favour of the MDC, with them having won a large number of rural constituencies this time round.  

What is urgently required is the release of the results for the Presidential poll. This is still to be done even though ZANU-PF are already asking for a recount.  At this stage however, the official results have not been released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.  In addition, there are strong suspicions that the ruling party are planning to tamper with the results.  This is however, more difficult in this election, as the results from each polling station were made available at the polling stations and 60 senatorial district headquarters following the election.

The South African Development Community, neighbouring states and particularly the South African government, need to urgently apply pressure on the Zimbabwe government to release the results. In the event a run-off election is required in terms of the legislation, there must be guarantees that this will be free of intimidation and official tampering. This is an urgent requirement as there are already reports in the press of both the security forces and the so-called ‘War Veterans’ being mobilised

What type of values are required in the new Zimbabwe?
Using values as a base, it is considered that strong BLUE Order and a Stability Era are required in order to rebuild the country as rapidly as possible. At the same time there will need to be a focus on stabilising and growing the economy under the ORANGE Enterprise value. It is considered that this can best be achieved by the formation of a ‘National Unity Government’ similar to the South African model in the 90s, in order to achieve this objective. This will also ensure that the unpopular decisions required to restore economic stability are clearly seen to be supported by all political parties in the country. In addition, this will provide communication channels for both parties to resolve the really ‘difficult’ issues remaining from the recent Mugabe years including the thorny issue of the illegal seizure and destruction of farms.  

A National Unity Government would exclude Robert Mugabe and his cronies but would include elements from both the MDC and ZANU-PF.  Those included from ZANU – PF should represent  the more progressive elements.  In addition, it is likely that Simba Makoni who was expelled by ZANU-PF when he stood against Mugabe in the Presidential Poll could be appointed to the position of Deputy President or Prime Minister in the new government. 

During this transitional period, a new constitution needs to be negotiated by representatives of all parties. This should provide individual and collective safeguards for all citizens as originally requested by the MDC. During this period new constituency boundaries and voters rolls need to be drawn so that after an agreed period of national stabilization fresh elections can be held.  It is also important to ensure that the full range of values from Tribal PURPLE through to GREEN Environmental issues are included in the new constitutional arrangements. 

Some Conclusions
In considering the possibility of a ‘High Road Scenario’ emerging, this will only be possible using diplomatic and other pressure in order to convince Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF to relinquish power peacefully.  In all probability, this will require an amnesty not only for the President but also his hard-line security chiefs.  There is little doubt that the ZANU-PF query of the election ‘results’ is based on the fact that the ‘democratic’ vote has been lost.

In the event that the initial approaches are unsuccessful it should be made very clear to the leadership of ZANU-PF that there is no real alternative which is acceptable to Zimbabwe’s neighbours, particularly regional power house South Africa.  If necessary economic sanctions may be required.  This type of strong message is the only route that those in the RED values system recognise. It is also likely that any subtle attempts in terms of ‘Quiet Diplomacy’ by South Africa will in all probability be rejected by the Mugabe regime and will fail. 

Recent reports coming out of Zimbabwe over past week indicate that in the areas where ZANU-PF lost seats, grain and fuel are already being withheld from those rural communities by the authorities. In addition, white farms are again being invaded and occupied by so called ‘War Veterans’ with the farmers being instructed to leave. In one case a Zimbabwe TV crew was present to record the eviction, which indicates tacit government support for these actions.

There is a real danger that the ‘Low Road Scenario’ could happen through the population reaching a ‘tipping point’” where violence seems to be the only available option left for people to improve their living conditions. This could rapidly move the population, who have been very patient up to now, to express RED anger in the streets through public violence.  There is also some question about whether the rank and file members of the security forces and police who are also suffering will continue to support the actions of the regime.

The current instability in Zimbabwe is also creating potential for serious conflict which could spill over into neighbouring states.  It is already estimated that as many as up to 3 million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa.  We believe a ‘Low Road Scenario’ including violence and bloodshed in Zimbabwe along Kenyan lines could lead to the whole region being adversely affected. This cannot be allowed to happen and requires urgent action backed up by the required political will by all role players in order to avoid this possibility.  

It is interesting to note that in terms of the Failed States Index of 2007 shown in the graphic below, the situation in Zimbabwe was already seen to be critical at that stage.  This graphic is published with acknowledgement to

Failed states


Real long term stability however, will only come once the general population believe there is the chance of a better future for themselves and their children. Over time this will also lead to a move in the values of the broader population and emerging governance systems to become aligned to the values required to move a country from underdeveloped to developing and on to developed. 

In concluding this values analysis, we believe that that a ‘High Road Scenario’ is still possible. However, for this to happen peacefully in Zimbabwe, the SADC, African Union and the international community as a whole will need to facilitate a successful transition for the new political leadership, leading to a new era in the country. This will also require significant funding in terms of international interest free loans/grants from bodies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other international donors, including former colonial power Britain, in order to assist in rebuilding the Zimbabwean economy as rapidly as possible.



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