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Zimbabwe’s Predatory State slices incisively into the intricately meshed networks of Zimbabwe’s ruling party and military apparatuses, writes David Moore

By the dawn of independence in 1980, Zimbabwe had one of the most structurally developed economies and state systems in Africa and was classified as a middle-income country.

In 1980, Zimbabwe’s GDP per capita was almost equal to that of China. More than 30 years later, Zimbabwe had regressed to a low-income country with a GDP per capita among the lowest in the world. With these dark economic conditions, discussions concerning structural problems of a country once cited as Africa’s best potential are reignited.

Shumba interrogates the ruling elite political reproduction, modes of accumulation across key economic sectors and implications for development outcomes.

The book raises some pressing questions in search of answers.

If Zimbabwe was the golden darling after independence, why did this happen? Was it inevitable? What were the crucial choices made that led to it? Did the ruling elite know that their choices would lead to Zimbabwe’s developmental decline?
 
 
Jabusile Shumba is a development and public policy graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand. He co-edited Zimbabwe: Mired in Transition (2012). He works with civil society, governments and international organisations in the fields of public policy analysis, governance and human rights, and he lectures part-time for Africa University, College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance.

David Moore recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Daily Maverick, discussing the future of a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe, with reference to Zimbabwe’s Predatory State:

The story of the Zimbabwean coup (which was of course a con) is now well-known. Power-crazed First Lady and her ersatz and erstwhile Generation-40 gang persuade her husband to fire vice-president. He rallies the troops while hiding away and travelling somewhere/everywhere (how: by email and WhatsApp?).

His army comrades – led by a man with an Italianised name and an Ethics Phd from a Pietermaritzburg college – take a few days to persuade/force the long dithering and quickly deteriorating 93-year-old head of party-state to give up. Thousands are in the streets urging the military on. “The Crocodile” – born-again, of course – swims home across the river praising the “father” just deposed to protect him from his disgraceful enemies. On his neatly prepared inaugural, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promises to revive the economy in a Paul Kagame-Deng Xiaoping sort of way, if everyone works hard.

Meanwhile, all the new and faded superpowers are co-operating to help a revitalised finance minister revive an economy that would have died (and still might) by the New Year. They are hurriedly blending all the lessons learnt from decades of floundering Washington, Beijing, Kigali and Fast-Track Land Reform/Command Economy consensuses. Promises of compensation for the white farmers who lost their land flow like milk and honey. Elections? Sure thing: we have them sewn up anyway.

So it will all be fine soon, right? Corruption will be a distant memory. The diaspora will fly or bus back, perhaps encouraged by a UNDP fund for once-exiled technocrats. The currency will peg to regional norms. Zimbabwe will recover its “second most industrialised in Africa” status, raising socio-economic and civil rights to their status at the morrow of freedom. The brutal years of Gukurahundi will be forgiven albeit never forgotten. “Western” donors’ dilemmas over whether to support liberal democrats or desperate dictators will have been solved by this soupçon coup while their hard-nosed investors will flock to the diamonds, gold, platinum, and tobacco and maize in Zimbabwe’s hinterlands. This could be the “democratic developmental state” over which consultants and World Bankers have been drooling for decades. 1

If you read Jabusile Shumba’s Zimbabwe’s Predatory State: Party, Military and Business, out next month from the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, you will be convinced otherwise.

Continue reading Moore’s piece here.

 
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