Political contestation and the evolution of National Social Protection Policy Framework (NSPPF) in Zimbabwe

The rise of social protection in Africa is a complex global phenomenon shaped by a wide range of actors interacting at different levels and whose access to policy space and degree of influence are determined by the power and interests that each actor holds. Similarly, in Zimbabwe, the development of the National Social Protection Policy Framework (NSPPF) was a political contestation between the government and different external agencies (international financial institutions, international nongovernmental organisations, and United Nations agencies); within the government itself; and within the external agencies themselves. This article looks at the process of developing the NSPPF and concludes that the rise of social protection in Africa needs to be understood as a political contestation, not as a mere technical process. Each player was driven by a different ideological position that it would “push” to prevail over other players’ interests. While external agencies’ push for the policy prevailed, the “success” came at the cost of little national ownership that made its implementation uncertain.