The Role of Political Parties in Peacebuilding Following Disputed Elections in Africa - The Case of Zimbabwe
Disputed elections provide fertile ground for polarisation, inter-party conflict, widespread violence, mistrust and intolerance. These factors pose a threat to sustainable peace. Political parties are often instrumental in causing disturbance following controversial elections. They often engage in electoral violence to prevent an unfavourable outcome. This study argues that political parties – both the winners and the losers – can play an important role in peacebuilding after a flawed electoral process. Using Zimbabwe as a case study, the paper discusses the challenges and opportunities that political parties experience in peacebuilding. Most of the elections in Zimbabwe have been characterised by fraud and violence, mainly perpetrated by the ruling party against the opposition. The study argues that durable peace in Zimbabwe might be achieved if the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU PF), and the opposition parties work together to facilitate reconciliation, justice, forgiveness and political reform. Without collaborative peacebuilding, Zimbabwe is unlikely to achieve sustainable peace.