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Title:'Zimbabweans are foolishly litigious': exploring the logic of appeals to a politicized legal system
Author:Verheul, Susanne
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (ISSN 0001-9720)
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
State-society relationship
Abstract:In this article, the author focuses on the narratives of two men, Patrick and Father Marko Mkandla. She asks whether their continued interactions with, and appeals to, Zimbabwe's politicized legal system were 'foolish'. The two men inhabited different geographic regions and diverged in their economic positions, political engagement, and ties to Zimbabwe's human rights networks. They nonetheless both started their accounts by recollecting that they persisted in reporting cases of political violence to the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Their accounts show us that imagining, invoking and interacting with the law in Zimbabwe was often an ambiguous, occasionally dangerous, and very contradictory exercise. Under ZANU-PF's rule, judicial institutions were increasingly politicized as instruments for repression. The men nevertheless continued to interact with the state and its officials as if these were bound by rules. This allowed Patrick and Father Mkandla to perform their rights-based citizenship, to experience occasional 'successes', and to differentiate themselves from the 'unprofessional' politicized civil servants they encountered during their appeals. Rather than 'foolishly' invoking the law, some Zimbabwean citizens engaged it as a shared language through which they could articulate their imagination of, hopes for, and belonging to a rule-bound state in the future. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]