The role of the African Union in promoting democracy and human rights: a case study of Zimbabwe
Mlatha, Mxolisi Goodman
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This study deals with the role of the African Union (AU) in promoting democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe. The current political crisis in Zimbabwe has persisted since the founding of the AU in 2002. The AU replaced the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) as a continental organisation of states to pursue specific common objectives. From its inception, the AU has committed itself to promoting democracy and human rights, partly due to the fragile and hybrid democracies that characterise the region. It also undertook to make a manifest shift from the Westphalian doctrine of no intervention to no indifference, which as a result positioned it correctly to promote democracy and human rights. Scholars have identified a dichotomy between the commitment of the AU to promote democracy and human rights and its manifest actions to realise such. This has come to the fore particularly in the context of the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe. This study interprets the manifest actions of the AU compared to its stated commitments and its mandate in respect of democracy and human rights promotion. The objective of this study is to describe the actual role of the AU in terms of its stated mandate. The study uses decolonial theory and democratisation theory as the theoretical framework to interpret and describe the role of the AU in Zimbabwe, which it argues is immersed in coloniality. The study shows that the democratisation project of the AU has been countered by the continued coloniality that continues to shape the status quo. This is particularly evident in Zimbabwe where there is structural violence that depicts coloniality and a hybrid state. For the region to achieve marked progress in respect of democratisation, it has to undo the self-perpetuating and persistent coloniality in Zimbabwe.