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La famille, la parenté et l’hérédité comme ressources dans le jeu politique

(Dis-)Graceful Leadership: On Familial Logics and Politics in Zimbabwe

La (dis)grâce du leadership : En ce qui concerne les logiques familiales et la politique au Zimbabwe
Blair Rutherford
p. 625-654

Abstracts


The “non-coupcoup in Zimbabwe in November 2017 brought focused international and national attention on the imbrication of familial practices with electoral politics in the country. Much commentary has focused on the actions of Grace Mugabe, wife of then President Robert Mugabe, as precipitating the military replacement of Mugabe with his erstwhile comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa. I deepen the analysis through placing these events within three dimensions of patriarchal familial logics that tend to be common in political economies in Africa and elsewhere: the forging of networks of access and patronage; the metaphorical grafting of “the family” onto the imagination of the nation; and the performance of heteronormative, patriarchal, and marital propriety. At the same time, I argue that these familial logics should be contextualized within the particular affective mobilizations and demobilizations associated with electoral politics in Zimbabwe.

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Author's notes

A version of this paper was presented at the University of Laval, co-organized by the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche sur l’Afrique et le Moyen-Orient (CIRAM) and the Département de science politique. I want to thank the participants for their excellent feedback, particularly Marie Brossier who played an instrumental role in writing this paper, and the very helpful comments on it given by Marie and another. I also want to thank the two anonymous reviewers who also provided excellent comments on it and the editorial team at the Cahiers d’Études africaines for their careful and thorough edits.

Excerpt

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Outline

Familial Logics and the Cultural Politics of Electoral Politics in Zimbabwe
The Propriety and Property of Grace Mugabe

First lines

The “non-coupcoup in Zimbabwe in November 2017 brought intense international and national attention on the imbrication of familial practices with electoral politics in this southern African country. That month, the Zimbabwean military forcibly removed President Robert Mugabe who had been Zimbabwe’s elected leader (at times the contests were highly disputed) since independence from Rhodesia in 1980. Mugabe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Unity (Patriotic Front) [zanu (pf)] party replaced him with his erstwhile comrade, Emmerson Mnangagwa. To explain the coup, many commentators and Zimbabweans, including those leading and benefiting from the military’s actions, focused on the actions of Grace Mugabe, wife of then President Robert Mugabe, as precipitating it.

In the 2010s, Robert Mugabe’s much younger second wife moved more from being solely focused on charity works (akin, for example, to Chantal Biya in Cameroon; see Eboko [2004]) to being more active and an emergent force within ...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Blair Rutherford, « (Dis-)Graceful Leadership: On Familial Logics and Politics in Zimbabwe »,  Cahiers d’études africaines, 234 | 2019, 625-654.

Electronic reference

Blair Rutherford, « (Dis-)Graceful Leadership: On Familial Logics and Politics in Zimbabwe »,  Cahiers d’études africaines [Online], 234 | 2019, Online since 01 January 2022, connection on 23 January 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/etudesafricaines/26099  ; DOI : 10.4000/etudesafricaines.26099

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About the author

Blair Rutherford

Department of Sociology & Anthropology , Carleton University & African Centre for Migration & Society (Canada); University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa).

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Copyright

© Cahiers d’Études africaines

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