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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

A collection of Zakes Mda’s non-fiction to be published in November

Justify the EnemyThis book is a collection of non-fiction by the prolific author Zakes Mda. It showcases his role as a public intellectual with the inclusion of public lectures, essays and media articles. Mda focuses on South Africa’s history and the present, identity and belonging, the art of writing, human rights, global warming and why he is unable to keep silent on abuses of power.

Some of his best-known novels include Ways of Dying (1995, MNet Book Prize); The Heart of Redness (2000, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Africa, and Sunday Times Fiction Prize); The Madonna of Excelsior (2002, one of the Top Ten South African books published in the Decade of Democracy); The Whale Caller (2005); Cion (2007); Black Diamond (2009); The Sculptors of Mapungubwe (2013); Rachel’s Blue (2014); and Little Suns (2015, Sunday Times Literary Award).

Zakes Mda was born in Herschel in the Eastern Cape in 1948 and studied in South Africa, Lesotho and the United States. He wrote his first short story at the age of fifteen and has since won major South African and British literary awards for his novels and plays. His writing has been translated into twenty languages. Mda is a professor of Creative Writing at Ohio University.

J.U. Jacobs is an emeritus professor and senior research associate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is the co-editor of Ways of Writing: Critical Essays on Zakes Mda (2009) and author of Diaspora and Identity in South African Fiction (2016).

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Crossing the Divide shows how strategies are emerging in the Global South to bridge the divide between the formal and informal economy

While work-related insecurities and worker vulnerability induced by neoliberal globalisation are undeniably affecting an increasing number of workers around the world, Crossing the Divide reveals that the history and legacy of colonialism is shaping the response of the Global South in ways that are quite different from that of the North.

Comparing precarious work in India, Ghana and South Africa, this book shows how innovative organisational strategies are emerging in the Global South to bridge the widening divide between the formal and informal economy.

Farm workers in Ghana, India and South Africa are challenging colonial-type work practices. Municipal workers in Johannesburg and Accra are organising collectively. In the cities of India, Ghana and South Africa, workers in domestic service, unregulated factories and home-based work face difficult conditions with little or no union representation.

Yet, these vulnerable workers are engaging in a range of creative strategies to fight for decent work and living conditions.

The studies in this collection are predominantly ethnographic, drawing on the experiences of vulnerable workers through in-depth interviews, observation and, in some cases, large-scale surveys.

Together they uncover the largely invisible world of the informal economy and vulnerable workers. Crossing the Divide makes clear that informal workers are not passive victims but are building new forms of collective solidarity to promote their rights and interests.

Edward Webster is Professor Emeritus in the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He is the author of more than 100 scholarly publications, including Grounding Globalization: Labour in the Age of Insecurity (2008), written with Rob Lambert and Andries Bezuidenhout. The book won the American Sociological Association’s Labor and Labor Movements Section Distinguished Monograph Prize.

Akua Opokua Britwum is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD) at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. Her publications cover gender-based violence, gender and economic participation, trade union democracy, and labour force organisation in the informal economy.

Sharit Bhowmik was Professor and Chairperson of the Centre for Labour Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. He engaged in labour studies throughout his working life, with a particular interest in plantation labour and informal work. He was a member of the Subgroup on Plantation Labour of the National Advisory Committee in India and a member of the Expert Committee on Street Vendors in Mumbai.

Book details

  • Crossing the Divide: Precarious Work and the Future of Labour edited by Edward Webster, Akua O. Britwum, Sharit Bhowmik
    EAN: 9781869143534
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Launch: Living Together, Living Apart? Social Cohesion in a Future South Africa

These ‘interventions’ are spurred by what in South Africa today is a buzz-phrase: social cohesion. The term, or concept, is bandied about with little reflection by leaders or spokespeople in politics, business, labour, education, sport, entertainment and the media.

Yet, who would not wish to live in a socially cohesive society? How, then, do we apply the ideal in the daily round when diversity of language, religion, culture, race and the economy too often supersedes our commitment to a common citizenry? How do we live together rather than live apart? Such questions provoke the purpose of these interventions.

The interventions – essays, which are short, incisive, at times provocative – tackle issues that are pertinent to both living together and living apart: equality/inequality, public pronouncement, xenophobia, safety, chieftaincy in modernity, gender-based abuse, healing, the law, education, identity, sport, new ‘national’ projects, the role of the arts, South Africa in the world.

In focusing on such issues, the essays point towards the making of a future, in which a critical citizenry is key to a healthy society.

Event Details

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Read a feature on Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko, the main editors and translators of the Jeff Opland Series on Xhosa writers

These features were published in The Sunday Independent.

A feature on Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko, the main editors and translators of the Jeff Opland Series on Xhosa writers, recently appeared in the Sunday Independent.

Read an extract from the two pieces here:

It is common when thinking of a literary archive in the South African indigenous languages, to focus only on the knowledge of literary heritage of a few authors and their selected writings.

In particular, writings that were used at the point of the introduction of literacy for didactic purposes are the only considered as a literary canon of the language.

It is also common that these selected writings are studied and appreciated only for their literary attributes or as far as they are able to tell us about the biographies of their writers.

The meaningful value of a literary archive is embodied in a letter written in the newspaper Isigidimi, in 1887 by Wellington W. Gqoba. Writing in his capacity as an editor, he says, “But there are reasons for me not to remain idle but to deal briefly with minor aspects of … chronological stories of our national stories … motivated as I am by national envy in doing so. My fervent desire is that our history should be well known and brought into print because all nations who possess a history continue to live and do not die even if they are fragmented.

We are taught the events of the nations of Greece, Rome, Egypt, of the English and so on, who they were and what they are today. Thus, they are very much alive, because even we who never shared their experiences or saw them, at least today we know something about them. Through their historical books, we see them, we discuss them and make an example of some of their sayings and habits as reflected in their present day legacy.”

Gqoba argues that a literary heritage reflects and preserves the national, social and cultural identity of a nation. He posits that from these we can deduce the knowledge and intellectual thoughts of the society on whom the writings are based, knowledge that can be shared with other nations.

He is the author of the first volume in the Opland Xhosa Literature Collection Series. Most of his works, which appeared mainly in Isigidimi were copied and collected by Professor Jeffrey Opland and form part of Opland’s Library Collection.

The Gqoba volume was published in 2015 and was translated and co-edited by Opland, Maseko and Kuse. The works reflect, through various literary genres, the intellectual thought of the isiXhosa-speaking Nguni people of the Eastern Cape, reflecting the African ways of knowing.

As Series Editors, Opland and Maseko are driven by the possibilities that these works can add to the body of knowledge in various disciplines in the academy.

They say it is sad that the academy is silent about African intellectual thought when Africa is teeming in its presence. The right to speak your language, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, is not enough, if one cannot use it to understand, share and process knowledge in the context of one’s past experiences, and ways of knowing.

Continue reading the features on Opland and Maseko here:

Pamela Maseko Sunday Independent Article


DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange

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William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali


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“Handle history with care – it might come back to bite you”: Stephen Coan on Tribing and Untribing the Archive


Former features writer for the Witness, writer-director in film and theatre, and freelance journalist, Stephen Coan, recently wrote an article on Tribing and Untribing the Archive, edited by Carolyn Hamilton and Nessa Leibhammer, discussing the significance of past events which has shaped the current political order. Read Coan’s insightful piece here:

Decolonisation. The use of the word is much in vogue at present; usually invoked to advocate a move away from a Eurocentric focus to one that is Afrocentric. If the concept is to be pursued with serious intent it could have quite unexpected implications for traditional leaders, not only in the province of KwaZulu-Natal but the whole of South Africa.

These implications are made clear in Tribing and Untribing the Archive – Identity and the Material Record in Southern KwaZulu-Natal in the Late Independent and Colonial Periods, edited by Carolyn Hamilton and Nessa Leibhammer, published in two slipcased volumes and consisting of twenty essays and an epilogue drawn from a multidisciplinary team of contributors, including archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, art historians, archivists and curators.

According to the editors the essays provide a window into “not only to see how archives give shape to history, but also how history gives shape to archives.”

But what exactly is “the archive”? On one level it is what has been written: what is found in state repositories, missionary records, personal papers, recorded oral testimony and newspapers. However Tribing and Untribing the Archive goes further, drawing attention “to the extent of the material culture record … little appreciated by researchers outside art history and archaeology.”

Consequently material objects such as snuff spoons, sticks, photographs and artworks are brought within the compass of the archive thus allowing scope for such essays as Nontobeko Ntombela’s Shifting contexts: Material, Process and Contemporary Art in Times of Change and Hlonipha Mokoena’s quirky and intriguing ‘Knobkerrie’: Some Preliminary Notes on the Transformation of a Weapon into a Swagger Stick, or Sometimes a Stick is Not Just a Stick which teases out out the meaning and complexities of a photograph (c.1890) depicting two policemen, one (white and seated) with a swagger stick and the other (black, barefoot, and standing) holding a knobkerrie.

Another group of essays, which include an aspect of Christoph Rippe’s pioneering work on the photographic collections at Mariannhill Monastery plus André Croucamp’s delving into tourism promotion by the Natal Government Railways, reveal how the image of “the Zulu” popularly assumed to be a product of the Zulu heartland north of the Thukela was in fact constructed much further south with paintings and photographs made within easy travelling distance (firstly by horse, then rail) of Durban.

Whatever a contributor’s particular focus all the essays coalesce under the umbrella of the title essay, Tribing and Untribing the Archive by Hamilton and Leibhammer, which elaborates on how “yoked together in the service of colonial and later apartheid rule, the pernicious combination of tribe and tradition continues to tether modern South Africans to ideas about the remote past as primitive, timeless and unchanging, despite substantial scholarly and public critical discussion of the fallacy of these notions.”

Speaking at the book’s launch in Johannesburg contributor John Wright said the most frequent response to its content was: “‘Well, if we can’t call them tribes, what can we call them?’”
“It’s the wrong question,” he countered. “The issue is not about finding new names for a category, but rethinking the nature of the category altogether. Historical work is showing that before the 19th century Africans lived not in bounded, relatively homogeneous ‘tribes’, but in polities, for which we have no word in English, that were fluid, relatively loosely structured groups, organized round the exigencies of making and remaking alliances, and incorporating newcomers.”

“Many people – black and white – today find it very difficult to think beyond Africans as ‘always’ having lived in tribes. They find it very difficult to think historically about African polities.”

While Tribing and Untribing the Archive has a specific regional focus – that of southern Kwazulu-Natal, bounded by the Thukela River in the north and the Mzimvubu in the south – the insights it contains have far wider application. “This area had a very distinctive colonial experience,” said Hamilton at the launch. “And it had a very distinctive experience before that, both before and after Shaka built up his power. What happened in this region has ramifications for the rest of the country.”

With the arrival of white settlers in significant numbers from the 1840s onwards southern KwaZulu-Natal became subject to colonial administration which saw Theophilus Shepstone, the Diplomatic Agent to the Native Tribes, devise a form of indirect rule which controlled African communities via the power of their chiefs. Non-compliant chiefs were either marginalised or, as in the case of the Hlubi leader Langalibalele kaMthimkhulu, designated rebels and violently subjugated. However, the great majority of chiefs recognised by Shepstone happily acquiesced in this system of government and turned it to their advantage. Thus by the end of the nineteenth century the concept of the “tribe” as the basic social and political unit of African society had become rooted in the minds of both the coloniser and the colonised.

Since 1994, as Grant McNulty details in his essay (Re)discovering the Correct History, numerous communities in KwaZulu-Natal have called for recognition of their pasts and identities both before their assimilation into the Zulu kingdom during the time of King Shaka kaSenzangakhona or their later status under colonial rule, “wrestling with how best to navigate these oppressed histories and how and what to present as evidence in support of their claims.”

This has seen frequent recourse to the archive, as the Campbell Collections in Durban and local state repositories can attest, in order “to strengthen and validate claims for traditional leadership submitted to the Nhlapo Commission and the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims.” The archive has also been used by lawyers investigating land claims while many members of the public have taken to researching their histories to try and re-establish their roots and identity.

According to McNulty the resultant re-emergence of the pre-Zulu history of the Hlubi, Ndwandwe, Quabe, and Nhlangwini represents “a direct threat to the authenticity and power of the Zulu king as a custodian and symbol of a unified Zulu nation.”

Post-1994 the liberation movements deliberately moved away from the tribal concept, a trajectory widely expected to continue. “Paradoxically, the opposite has happened,” according to Wright in Making Identities in the Thukela-Mzimvubu Region.

“National and provincial governments sought first to accommodate and then to win the support of ‘traditional leaders’ by recognising and augmenting the authority they exercised in terms of ‘customary law’ in ‘tribal areas’ based on those established in the eras of colonialism and apartheid.” Or, to put it another way, what is the decolonisation project to do with traditional leaders whose status came into being as the result of collaboration with the colonial regime or direct colonial appointment?

There are no easy answers to such questions and if nothing else, as Mbongiseni Buthelezi puts it in his perceptive epilogue: “These volumes show us that we know neither enough about the past before colonialism nor about the ways in which local institutions were reshaped in the early years of colonialism to suit a form of indirect colonial rule.”

“We need more investigation into the longer past because the more we know about the forms of social organisation, leadership, relations between neighbours and so on that existed prior to the advent of European settlement, the better we give back to the present and future their pasts.”

Tribing and Untribing the Archive marks both a beginning of that process and a challenge to the current political order.


Tribing and Untribing the Archive

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Living Together, Living Apart? explores social cohesion in South Africa

These ‘interventions’ are spurred by what in South Africa today is a buzz-phrase: social cohesion. The term, or concept, is bandied about with little reflection by leaders or spokespeople in politics, business, labour, education, sport, entertainment and the media.

Yet, who would not wish to live in a socially cohesive society? How, then, do we apply the ideal in the daily round when diversity of language, religion, culture, race and the economy too often supersedes our commitment to a common citizenry? How do we live together rather than live apart? Such questions provoke the purpose of these interventions.

The interventions – essays, which are short, incisive, at times provocative – tackle issues that are pertinent to both living together and living apart: equality/inequality, public pronouncement, xenophobia, safety, chieftaincy in modernity, gender-based abuse, healing, the law, education, identity, sport, new ‘national’ projects, the role of the arts, South Africa in the world.

In focusing on such issues, the essays point towards the making of a future, in which a critical citizenry is key to a healthy society.

Contributors include leading academics and public figures in South Africa today: Christopher Ballantine, Ahmed Bawa, Michael Chapman, Jacob Dlamini, Jackie Dugard, Kira Erwin, Nicole Fritz, Michael Gardiner, Gerhard Maré, Monique Marks, Rajend Mesthrie, Bonita Meyersfeld, Leigh-Ann Naidoo, Njabulo S. Ndebele, Kathryn Pillay, Faye Reagon, Brenda Schmahmann, Himla Soodyall, David Spurrett and Thuto Thipe.

Christopher Ballantine, Michael Chapman and Gerhard Maré are professors emeriti who are affiliated to the University of KwaZulu-Natal. They have all published prominently in areas of the humanities and social sciences in South Africa. Kira Erwin is a researcher at the Urban Futures Centre at the Durban University of Technology. Her publications focus on race, space and urban identities.


1 At Ease with Being ‘Citizen’ and ‘Human Being’
Njabulo S. Ndebele

2 Human Variation: What Can We Learn from Genetics?
Himla Soodyall and Faye Reagon

3 Agreeing to Disagree
David Spurrett

4 The Danger of Empty Words: from Rhetoric to Action
Kira Erwin

5 What Social Cohesion? Binding through Shared Austerity
Gerhard Maré

6 Where Walls Don’t Divide: Dreaming a Suburban Life
Monique Marks

7 Bound by Tradition: Chieftaincy in a ‘New’ South Africa
Thuto Thipe

8 ‘AmaNdiya, they’re not South Africans!’ Xenophobia and Citizenship
Kathryn Pillay

9 ‘Them’ and ‘Us’: Politics, Poetry and the Public Voice
Michael Chapman

10 ‘Urban Cool!’ Social Bridging in Language
Rajend Mesthrie

11 Sounds like a Better Future: Musicking for Social Change
Christopher Ballantine

12 Embroidering Controversy: The Politics of Visual Imaging
Brenda Schmahmann

13 Mothers, Children and Mathematics: Ways to a Better Society
Ahmed Bawa

14 Coercion or Cohesion? Educators in a Democracy
Michael Gardiner

15 Sexual Harassment and Violence: Higher Education as Social Microcosm
Jackie Dugard and Bonita Meyersfeld

16 The ‘Hidden’ Curriculum of South African Sport
Leigh-Ann Naidoo

17 The Global Obligations We Owe: A Source of Domestic Cohesion?
Nicole Fritz

18 The Death of Jacob Dlamini
Jacob Dlamini

Living Together, Living Apart?

Book details

  • Living Together, Living Apart?: Social Cohesion in a Future South Africa by Christopher Ballantine, Kira Erwin, Gerhard Mare
    EAN: 9781869143329
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Book launch: Tribing and Untribing the Archive: Volumes 1 and 2

University of KwaZulu-Natal Press and the Public Affairs Research Institute invite you to the launch of Tribing and Untribing the Archive: volumes one and two. Both volumes will be sold as a single set during the launch.

Event Details

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New: Ordered States: Welfare, Power and Maternalism on Zimbabwe’s (Once White) Highveld by Andrew MC Hartnack

Ordered Estates offers a sophisticated and nuanced portrait of Zimbabwe’s contemporary agrarian landscape, providing a valuable contribution to the growing body of work about changes in different social, political, structural and cultural spheres generated in the post-2000 “Fast Track” era.

- Amanda Hammar, MSO Professor of African Studies, University of Copenhagen

Ordered StatesUKZN Press is proud to present Ordered States: Welfare, Power and Maternalism on Zimbabwe’s (Once White) Highveld by Andrew MC Hartnack:

There is a growing body of work on white farmers in Zimbabwe. Yet the role played by white women – so-called “farmers’ wives” – on commercial farms has been almost completely ignored, if not forgotten.

For all the public role and overt power ascribed to white male farmers, their wives played an equally important, although often more subtle, role in power and labour relations on white commercial farms. This “soft power” took the form of maternalistic welfare initiatives such as clinics, schools, orphan programmes and women’s clubs, most overseen by a “farmer’s wife”. Before and after Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence these played an important role in attracting and keeping farm labourers, and governing their behaviour. After independence they also became crucial to the way white farmers justified their continued ownership of most of Zimbabwe’s prime farmland.

This book provides the first comprehensive analysis of the role that farm welfare initiatives played in Zimbabwe’s agrarian history. Having assessed what implications such endeavours had for the position and well-being of farmworkers before the onset of “fast-track” land reform in the year 2000, Hartnack examines in vivid ethnographic detail the impact that the farm seizures had on the lives of farmworkers and the welfare programmes which had previously attempted to improve their lot.

About the author

Andrew Hartnack holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town. He is a Director at the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation, a leading South African research and advocacy organisation.

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The Anatomy of Political Predation – a research paper by Power Politics in Zimbabwe author Michael Bratton

Power Politics in ZimbabweThe summary of a paper co-written by Michael Bratton that led to his recent publication Power Politics in Zimbabwe is available to read online at Developmental Leadership Program.

The paper, written by Bratton and Eldred Masunungure, is titled “The Anatomy of Political Predation: Leaders, Elites and Coalitions in Zimbabwe 1980 – 2010″ and is available to download DLP here.

Related stories:

* * * * *

Read the summary:

The Anatomy of Political Predation: Leaders, Elites and Coalitions in Zimbabwe 1980 – 2010
January 2011
Michael Bratton & Eldred Masunungure

This essay offers an interpretation of the rise and fall of Zimbabwe’s political economy through the lens of leadership. Of special interest are the actions of elite coalitions that link political parties, the state bureaucracy, and the security sector. We argue that, in Zimbabwe, a predatory civil-military coalition – even when participating in negotiated political settlements – always placed its own political survival and welfare above broader developmental goals.

Research Questions

The paper addresses two main research questions:

(a) Why, after independence, did a ruling political elite resort more to predation than development?

(b)Why, even in the face of a current political and economic crisis, have rival elites failed to forge a common developmental coalition?

Overview of the Argument

In addressing the first question, we show that, in consolidating state power, civilian rulers and their military allies violently suppressed political opposition, engaged in corruption, and challenged the economic interests of commercial farming and business elites. In so doing, leaders undermined the institutions of the state and the rule of law.

Politically, they alienated the labor movement and civil society, which went on to form a rival opposition coalition.

Our proposed answer to the second question casts light on the limits of negotiated political settlements. At critical junctures in the country’s history – notably at independence in 1980 and
with a Global Political Agreement in 2008 – leaders accepted power-sharing arrangements that restricted their freedom of maneuver. Lacking strong leadership commitments, however, the rules underpinning these externally driven, hastily negotiated and reluctantly accepted political settlements in Zimbabwe have never taken root.

Other factors also help to explain Zimbabwe’s post-colonial trajectory:

(a) The inherited structure of a diversified economy enabled an increment of develop- ment in the early years of independence. But, by the same token, the legacy of a strong state provided ready-made instruments for repression.

(b) The political culture of militarized elite, which was forged in the crucible of a national liberation war, led rulers to feel entitled, not only to rule Zimbabwe in perpetuity, but to
seize the nation’s wealth as they saw fit. The paper takes the form of an analytic narrative organized chronologically by historical periods.

The narrative is framed in terms of key concepts of leadership: namely how elites, as agents operating within inherited structures and negotiated political settlements, form coalitions for development or predation.

The Independence Decade (1980-1989) At independence, a favorable institutional legacy and an influx of foreign aid enabled the ZANU-PF government led by Robert Mugabe to deliver development benefits to its rural political base. A constitutional settlement imposed by the departing British government and influence from white farming and business elites initially led to moderate economic policies, for instance on land reform. At the same time, the president pardoned political allies involved in corruption scandals in an early signal that that the rule of law would be sacrificed to predation. Indeed, far from concentrating on broad-based economic development, the rulers gave priority to the consolidation of state power by installing party loyalists in the armed forces, civil service and local government. As part of this process, rulers cracked down violently on nationalist rivals in Matabeleland, ultimately absorbing the leaders of PF-ZAPU into the elite coalition.

The Adjustment Decade (1990-1999)

The second decade of independence began with leaders pushing for a de jure one-party state, a move ultimately made unnecessary by ZANU-PF’s easy de facto dominance at the polls. The regime grew increasingly intolerant of dissent and ever more willing to use violence as a campaign tool. The party asserted supremacy over the state by politicizing the bureaucracy and army and turning a blind eye to rent-seeking. Yet, faced with deficits and debts, the government had little choice but to accept reforms to structurally adjust Zimbabwe’s outdated economy. Under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai, the ZCTU reacted with a series of strikes and stay-aways and, in coalition with civic associations bent on constitutional reform, formed the MDC, an opposition party. For his part, Mugabe was only able to hold together his splintering ruling coalition by using unbudgeted state resources to buy off the militant war veterans.

The Crisis Decade (2000-2008)

The millennium marked the onset of Zimbabwe’s descent into political terror and economic collapse. The turning point was a constitutional referendum, in which the opposition scored its first electoral victory. The incumbent elite struck back with land invasions, purges of judges, and the mobilization of militias. A Joint Operations Command (JOC) of security chiefs usurped key policy making functions from the Cabinet and the Reserve Bank became a slush fund for the ruling party and armed forces.

The predictable results of these ill-advised policies were economic contraction, disintegrating public services, runaway inflation, and widespread public discontent. After MDC leaders were assaulted at a peaceful rally, external actors from the Southern Africa region stepped up pressure for a political settlement. When a June 2008 presidential election – the most violent in Zimbabwe’s history – was blatantly stolen by Mugabe, SADC forced Zimbabwe’s rival elite coalitions into an awkward power-sharing settlement.

A Period of Transition (2008-present)

The Global Political Agreement (GPA) of September 2008 led to the formation of a transitional “government of national unity” (GNU) in February 2009. This new settlement was no leader’s first choice; both Mugabe and Tsvangirai entered reluctantly. On one hand, the elite accord restored a welcome modicum of peace and economic stability. On the other hand, it papered over key issues, especially how to divide executive power, manage the economy, and ensure civilian control of the armed forces. In practice, the GNU has been unable to implement the central provisions of the GPA, leading to repeated breakdowns in communication and cooperation between President and Prime Minister. The roots of the impasse lie in the Mugabe’s unwillingness to share power and resistance to political reform by senior military elements in the dominant coalition. But the divisions, inexperience and organizational weaknesses of the rival MDC coalition are also to blame.

The Way Forward?

The occurrence of a new political settlement marks a critical juncture in Zimbabwe’s political evolution. Even if flawed, the current power-sharing agreement signals a break in the monopoly of the ZANU-PF party-state and the onset of some sort of regime transition. Over time, the politics of survival have led the decadent ZANU-PF elites into an increasingly narrow coalition, which now constitutes little more than a cabal of 200 or so military and civilian leaders targeted by Western sanctions. MDC leaders appear to have less selfserving and more broadly developmental aspirations.

But the constraints of power-sharing – obstacles imposed by incumbents, a prostrate economy, and lukewarm reengagement by international donors – limit the ability of these inexperienced
leaders to blossom into a fully-fledged development coalition.

Results and Lessons

• Like developmental leaders, predatory leaders rely on elite coalitions. In the case of Zimbabwe, the top echelons of the ruling party have always been deeply fused with leaders from military and intelligence backgrounds. This legacy from the liberation war carried over into the postcolonial period.

• As governments mismanage the economy, and as patronage resources shrink, so political elites tend to coalesce around a smaller and smaller set of players. In Zimbabwe, a civil-military
coalition radiated hostility to all other sectors, including both business and labor. Over time, it contracted inwardly into the very antithesis of a developmental coalition.

• Political settlements that are externally driven by international actors, hastily negotiated under pressure of time, and reluctantly accepted by the principal parties are unlikely to prove
durable or legitimate. Such pacts may quell violence in the short run but they are unlikely to resolve the root causes of political conflict over the long term. One lesson of the Global
Political Agreement of 2008 in Zimbabwe is that power-sharing agreements imposed from above by international third parties upon unwilling domestic partners are destined for deadlock, even stalemate.

• Narrow settlements that focus on political power sharing alone are less likely to endure than comprehensive settlements that also address the stakeholders’ economic and military interests.
• In a political culture of predation, civil society organizations can sometimes reproduce the pathological characteristics of state organizations. For example, CSOs or opposition
political parties may display a founder’s syndrome, a lack of leadership accountability, and reliance of rents and patronage. In this regard, civil society is not always a viable source of an alternative developmental coalition.

• Reformers, whether external or internal, are likely to have most influence over political and developmental outcomes during critical junctures. At moments when old political regimes begin to break down, but before a new set of political rules is put in place, there is room for assertive leaders to mobilize people and resources.

• By the same token, the window of opportunity for reform usually opens only for short periods. The beneficiaries of old political and economic regimes, who are loath to abandon structures that have served them well, can be expected to mount rearguard actions to protect privileges. Unless developmental leaders act quickly and decisively, they can soon find themselves hemmed in by familiar obstacles that permit few points of leverage over outcomes.

• There is need for external actors to undertake informed political analysis in order to under- stand structural, cultural and institutional contexts and to be able to recognize both the
limits of the possible and the political opportu- nities that sometimes present themselves.

Policy Implications

In Zimbabwe in 2010, the international community should consider the following policies:

• Insist on the full implementation of the terms of the 2008 Global Political Agreement.

• Continue to offer “humanitarian plus” aid programs that help improve the conditions of life for ordinary Zimbabweans (mainly through the Multi-Donor Trust Fund and NGOs).

• Resist the temptation to back particular leaders or coalitions (i.e. picking winners) but, instead, favor the construction of rules, procedures and institutions.

• Working through the new SADC contact group – South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia – require a free and fair election and a transfer of power to the winner.

• Selectively offer support to civil society organizations, independent media, and democratic political parties that can help ensure that the next national elections are administered freely
and fairly. Help build the organizational, professional, analytical, diplomatic and advocacy skills and potentials of these prospective partners.

• Without promising unconditional amnesty to human rights abusers or corrupt predators, provide assurances to ease potential political spoilers out of power.

• Recognizing the West’s limited leverage, carefully consider the appropriate time to relax, suspend, or remove targeted sanctions on the ZANU-PF elite. Require prior compliance with a SADC roadmap for political progress toward a durable democratic settlement.

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Mugabe does not rule alone – Read an excerpt from Power Politics in Zimbabwe by Michael Bratton

Power Politics in ZimbabwePower Politics in Zimbabwe by Michael Bratton is a careful analysis of one of the most controversial presidencies in the world.

In this preeminent book on Robert Mugabe and the ZANU-PF, the author looks at the political settlements, roots of repression, colonial political settlements, the Zimbabwean period of crisis (2000-2008), the power-sharing experiment (2008-2013), and the power politics at play in the country.

Bratton, a distinguished professor of of political science and African studies at Michigan State University, also reflects on the rewriting of the constitution, improving the electoral conduct, a security-sector reform and tackling transitional justice.

The first chapter takes a look at the power politics in Zimbabwe and gives an outline of the book. US publishers Lynne Rienner, who first released this book in 2014, have made an excerpt available; giving readers the opportunity to sample the first chapter in its entirety.

Read the excerpt:

Power Politics in Zimbabwe – Excerpt

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