There are three identifiable transitology schools of thought that use the agency theory to explain the main factors hindering Zimbabwe’s political transition using elections as a medium, as a signifier of a democratic process, says political commentator Dr Pedzisai Ruhanya.
Quoting (Diamond, 2002; Levystky & Way, 2002, Ruhanya says, firstly are studies that point to competitive authoritarian regime that capture the legislature, judiciary, the media and the electoral arena and use these institutions to manipulate electoral outcomes and ensure the opposition always loses.
According to him, this group of studies locate Zimbabwe in the competitive authoritarian regimes category where elections without democracy are held to maintain the ruling party in power and make opposition defeat certain before elections are counted.
Ruhanya writes: Competition is, thus, real but blatantly unfair (Levitsky & Way, 2010; Matti 2010; Mainwaring, 2012). Evidence from Zimbabwe’s electoral history confirms these observations.
However, this school of thought does not explain the defiant electoral victory of the opposition in urban constituencies and its performance in rural constituencies and the role of the relationships between the ruling elite, the military and the captured institutions.
The second school of thought comprises studies that point to the conflation of the ruling party, the state and the military which has resulted in the militarisation of elections, electoral violence and attendant election manipulation to keep the ruling party in power.
This view of party/state/military/business complex has been thoroughly interrogated as an impediment to a possible democratic breakthrough (Rupiya2005; Ndlovu-Gatsheni 2006; Bratton & Masunungure 2008; Masunungure, 2011; Tendi 2013; Moyo, 2014; Mandaza, 2016).
This development revealed the subservience of the ruling party and all other state institutions to the military elites who play a decisive role in political transitions in Zimbabwe (Gumbo and Ruhanya, 2022).
This leads to the 3rd group of studies that point to the securocratic state problem, a political system wherein the military elite capture the ruling party, populate it with their members and allies and then deploy it to infiltrate state institutions that administer elections.