Authoritarianism in Zimbabwe survives because a coalition of political and military elites stands ready and willing to employ violence to execute the Machiavellian vision of President Robert Mugabe and perpetuate his control of the state. Several variables reinforce the durability of this regime—chief among them the mass out-migration and the large inflow of remittances that has decimated the middle class and dampened the political voice of those who remain in the country. Beginning in 2000, Zimbabwe’s authoritarianism became militarized with the overt intrusion of the security sector into the political arena, a process that reached its peak before the June 2008 presidential runoff election. The electoral dimension of its authoritarianism stems from the fact that the regime unfailingly holds elections in search of popular legitimacy but then manipulates them for its own ends. This article dissects Zimbabwe’s militarized form of electoral authoritarianism with specific reference to the 2008 reign of terror. It concludes that the factor that best explains the regime is the symbiosis between the party and the security sector, with Mugabe providing the glue that binds them together in pursuit of regime survival.
Drawing on extensive research about global cities and citizens, this essay examines whether the proliferation of conflicts in cities across the world can overwhelm the urban capabilities that have historically enabled cities to triage conflict via commerce and civic engagement. Critical in this examination is recovering some of the differences between being powerless and being invisible or impotent. Under certain conditions the powerless make history without getting empowered in the process. There are two types of acute challenges facing cities that pertain to this question. One is asymmetric war and the urbanizing of war that it entails. My research finds that cities are a type of weak regime that can obstruct but not destroy superior military force; this weak regime rests on the civic character of cities. The second type of challenge concerns anti-immigrant hatred and violence. In an exploration of the hard work of making open cities, particular histories show us that it is possible to reposition the immigrant and the citizen as, above all, similar urban subjects, rather than essentially different. Cities are one of the key sites where new norms and identities are made. This is a particularly fluid process in our global era, when cities emerge once again as strategic economic, political and cultural sites.