Militarisation and State Capacity in Zimbabwe: The Limits of the Human Security Paradigm

Enock Ndawana, Fritz Nganje

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article uses the case of Zimbabwe to explore the interface between militarisation and state capacity, and through that critique the emancipatory potential of the human security concept. It argues that militarisation undermines state capacity to provide emancipatory security as envisioned in the human security concept. A militarised state is severely incapacitated and challenged to deliver emancipatory security because it lacks the functional capacity and legitimacy of a state that is capable of safeguarding the security of the individual. The Zimbabwean case shows how the nature of the struggle for the country's independence conditioned the political elite's siege mentality and concomitant predisposition to use militarisation to safeguard their interests while ignoring those of the broader citizenry. By underscoring the adverse effects of militarisation on state capacity and legitimacy, the Zimbabwean case reinforces critiques of the state-centric approach of the human security concept, which severely constraints the latter's emancipatory potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-228
Number of pages23
JournalGlobal Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Human security
  • Zimbabwe
  • emancipation
  • militarisation
  • state capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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