Jocelyn Alexander, Simukai Chigudu give evidence to UK parliament committee on Zimbabwe crisis

07 February, 2019

Two ODID academics gave evidence at an urgent session of the UK parliament’s International Development Committee this week to talk about the current political and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

Jocelyn Alexander, Professor of Commonwealth Studies, and Simukai Chigudu, Associate Professor of African Politics, appeared on the panel alongside Stephen Chan, Professor of Politics and International Studies at SOAS.

The panel were asked a series of questions covering the Zimbabwe government’s response to the recent protests, the impact of austerity, whether the international community was too quick to embrace the new regime, the role of EU sanctions and IMF negotiations, the effectiveness of DFID’s involvement, and the possibility of compensation for white farmers.

The panel highlighted a number of issues in response to the questions, including:

  • The importance of understanding the current political situation through a systemic analysis, rather than a focus on individuals, and in historical context;
  • The complexity of divisions within the ruling party, the intelligence services, the army and the police and the way in which the coup had disrupted established hierarchies and relationships;
  • The likely destabilising impact of austerity in the face of extreme hardship following a year of deteriorating living conditions, which an imminent drought can only worsen;
  • The way in which sanctions had been used for rhetorical effect by the government to point to victimisation by the West;
  • That need to understand that the Zimbabwe government is not a single entity and donors should work strategically with different ministries to be most effective;
  • The importance of supporting civil society organisations at the local level, as well as the crucial role of regional bodies.

Watch the full session here.