Politicising ‘Covid-19’: an analysis of selected ZANU-PF officials’ 2020-2021 media statements on the pandemic in Zimbabwe
Keywords:COVID-19, biopolitics, Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF, lockdown
This paper examines the politicisation of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe through discourse analysis of selected media statements released by Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) officials on the Covid-19 pandemic between March 2020 and February 2021. Theoretically, the paper employs Foucault’s theory of biopower to interpret the state- citizen power relations that surfaced in the Zimbabwean government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It argues that the ZANU-PF-led government used Covid-19 as an excuse to pursue its political interests. This is politics that protected ZANU-PF’s social, political and economic interests by using Covid-19 as an excuse to pulverise various forms of opposition. The argument advanced herein is that while the implementation of the lockdown in Zimbabwe was necessary to save lives, one of its consequences was the protection of self-interests through selective application of lockdown regulations and the passing of laws to silence critics. This resulted in the prohibition of political gatherings, arbitrary arrests, labelling and name-calling of the opposition and the West by ZANU-PF officials who were safeguarding their party’s waning support resulting from their mismanagement of the pandemic.
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