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Title:'Increasing My Value Proposition to the Struggle': Arthur Mutambara and Student Politics in Zimbabwe
Author:Zeilig, Leo
Periodical:African Sociological Review (ISSN 1027-4332)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:Zimbabwe
Southern Africa
Subjects:student movements
Education and Oral Traditions
Politics and Government
History and Exploration
Zimbabwe--Politics and government
Students--Political activity
Mutambara, Arthur
About person:Arthur Mutambara
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/afrisocirevi.10.2.94
Abstract:Arthur Mutambara made a dramatic return to Zimbabwean politics in 2005, to lead one of the factions of the split opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change. He was a prominent student activist in Zimbabwe in the late 1980s, and his reputation rests on this legacy. Mutambara led the Student Representative Council as general secretary and then as president at the University of Zimbabwe from 1988 to 1990. This period has been eulogized by students, civil society activists and trade unionists in Zimbabwe ever since. Students still refer affectionately to the period as the 'AGO era', as Mutambara used to sign himself in the 1980s. Many have argued that the student movement became the seedbed for an emergent civil society. By 1990 Zimbabwe was permanently changed and ZANU-PF became the sullied party of liberation. Students helped to pierce the regime's invulnerability, and other groups emerged to voice their own grievances. This paper uses the re-entry of Mutambara into Zimbabwean politics to examine the trajectory of the student movement. It asks two questions: What was the political and social context of the 'AGO' years? And how can student activism in Zimbabwe be understood? It argues that the 'AGO' years were contradictory, moving from support for the government to furious denunciation. With the impact of the Economic and Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) after 1990, students saw their status change from that of a 'rarefied elite' above society to increasingly a proletarianized opposition staring at society from a similar perspective as the urban working class. The paper centres on interviews conducted in 2003 and 2004 with current and ex-student activists, and a prolonged interview in July 2003 with Mutambara. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]