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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Presenting Power Politics in Zimbabwe by Michael Bratton – the preeminent book on Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF

Power Politics in ZimbabweUKZN Press is proud to announce that Power Politics in Zimbabwe by Michael Bratton is now available:

Zimbabwe’s July 2013 election brought the country’s “inclusive” power-sharing interlude to an end and installed Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF for yet another – its seventh – term. Why? What explains the resilience of authoritarian rule in Zimbabwe?

Tracing the country’s elusive search for a legitimate political settlement across the decades, Bratton offers a careful analysis of the failed power-sharing experiment, an account of its institutional origins and an explanation of its demise. In the process, he explores key challenges of political transition: constitution making, elections, security-sector reform and transitional justice.

Compelling, thoroughly researched, and immensely informative … Power Politics will also generate a great deal of discussion among Zimbabwe specialists as they confront the lessons and implications of Bratton’s provocative analysis.

- Ngonidzashe Munemo, Perspectives on Politics

A powerful and deeply personal book about Zimbabwean politics that also yields considerable comparative insights for students of democracy in other parts of Africa … Bratton has offered us an instant classic of Zimbabwe studies, with implications reaching well beyond the borders of that troubled place.

- Pierre Englebert, Journal of Democracy

Thoughtful, well written and persuasive, this has to be the preeminent book on contemporary Zimbabwe. Highly recommended.


About the author

Michael Bratton is University Distinguished Professor of political science and African studies at Michigan State University. His numerous publications include, most recently, Voting and Democratic Citizenship in Africa and Public Opinion, Democracy, and Market Reform in Africa (with Robert Mattes and E Gyimah-Boadi).

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Erik Melander and Grace Maina Present 8 In-depth Case Studies in Peace Agreements and Durable Peace in Africa

Peace Agreements and Durable Peace in AfricaUKZN Press is proud to present Peace Agreements and Durable Peace in Africa edited by Erik Melander and Grace Maina:

Peace agreements have become necessary and legitimate tools for resolving conflicts and bringing about durable peace. This book adds to the already existing knowledge of peace agreements by carefully analysing African experiences of peace processes to identify how these can be enhanced in order to ensure positive and sustainable peace in strife-ridden areas. Case studies in eight African countries provide readers with a unique opportunity to study conflicts on the continent and to understand the factors that promote or undermine the success of peace agreements.

The agreements under study in this volume include those of Angola, Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda. The selection is based on the fact that they were finalised prior to 2005 and therefore allow for a richer analysis of their successes and shortfalls.

The eight case studies by both academics and practitioners – Osita Agbu, Kasaija Phillip Apuuli, Lesley Connolly, Gregory Mthembu-Salter, Charles Nyuykonge, Justin Pearce, Anyway Sithole, Germain Ngoie Tshibambe and Siphamandla Zondi – offer in-depth insight on peacemaking in order to identify lessons and inform better practice in articulating and implementing peace agreements in Africa.

About the Editors

Grace Maina is currently serving as a political officer in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. At the time of writing this book she was the head of the Knowledge Production Department at ACCORD.

Erik Melander is a professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden.

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Richard Pithouse Reflects on the Meaning of Fees Must Fall and the Grahamstown Spring

The New South Africa at TwentyTowards the end of last month, as the #FeesMustFall student movement gained momentum and spread across university campuses in South Africa, Grahamstown experienced two watershed moments that shook its foundations to the core.

As Rhodes University students were protesting against the proposed fee increases and an exorbitant minimum initial payment (MIP) for 2016, a scourge of xenophobic violence took place as Grahamstown locals attacked migrant Muslim traders who had “come to destroy black business”.

Richard Pithouse, Politics lecturer at Rhodes and contributor to The New South Africa at Twenty: Critical Perspectives edited by Peter Vale and Estelle H Prinsloo, provides insightful analysis of the two events and what it means for the future of the town and the country.

Read the article:

Everybody knows, to borrow a line from Leonard Cohen, that the deal is rotten. Everybody knows that we can’t carry on as we are. Everybody knows that Zuma can’t take us out of the morass into which we are sinking. As the student march finally got under way on one side of town the attacks on migrant Muslim traders began on the other side. Two visions of the future, both internally complex, contradictory and contested, were playing themselves out within a five-minute walk from each other.

One the one side local elites were exploiting real fears and a real crisis to advance a politics of authoritarianism and ruthless chauvinism in which their own material interests could be conflated with those of the nation. One the other side some of the brightest and best of our young people were at the centre of a project organised and sustained, although not without some strain at some points, around a set of emancipatory ideas.

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History Being Made in Real Time – Danielle Bowler Considers the #FeesMustFall Protests

UbuntuDanielle Bowler, a Mandela Rhodes Scholar and contributor to the recently released Ubuntu: Curating the Archive, has written a piece for EWN on the #FeesMustFall protests.

Bowler says the protests, which took place on campuses throughout the country, challenge the idea that the #RhodesMustFall movement at the University of Cape Town was “just about a statue”.

That protest, Bowler says, was really about the “inescapable sophisticated system of structural inequality that touches all spaces and all things”.

Read the article, in which Bowler considers the use of social media in the protests, and the comparable moments in protests happening overseas:

This is history being made in real-time, with all its characteristic messiness and conflicting narratives, struggling to become the story we tell of this moment. Distinct and different narratives have emerged on newspaper front pages and digital screens. Many have painted students as violent, called them hooligans, and referred to them using terms such as ‘marauding’. Many who valourise past student uprisings, show an ironic disdain for our generation’s own.

But this revolution will be tweeted and downloaded. Students have documented their own struggle and, along with independent news sites like The Daily Vox, are showing how skewed mainstream reportage paints a different picture to the reality on the ground. In pictures, videos and first-hand accounts, the story behind the headlines, sensational imagery, and one-sided narratives are revealed on our timelines.

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The Fixation on Education as a Cure-all is Diverting Us from Tackling Our Problems – Steven Friedman

Race, Class and PowerIn the midst of the raging #FeesMustFall campaign, the director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy Steven Friedman, who wrote Race, Class and Power: Harold Wolpe and the Radical Critique of Apartheid, reflected on the myth of education as a cure for all of South Africa’s problems.

“Just about everyone agrees that education is a solution to most of our — and everyone else’s — economic problems. Sadly, just about everyone is probably wrong,” Friedman writes in a recent Business Day column, which he shared as a post on his Facebook page, explaining why there are no miraculous powers hidden in education. He notes that this is not only a local myth but also popular abroad, as seen for example in British prime minister Tony Blair’s call for “education education education”.

“Not only is education not a miracle cure, but the fixation with its supposed healing powers may be diverting us from tackling our problems,” the political scientist says.

Read Friedman’s reflection for a completely different take on the current debate around education:

Education is not the cure-all it is made out to be

JUST about everyone agrees that education is a solution to most of our — and everyone else’s — economic problems. Sadly, just about everyone is probably wrong.

A week in which university students are resisting fee increases is a good time to reflect on a constant theme in our national debate — the wondrous healing powers of education.

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that whenever South Africans debate a problem someone will insist, to agreeing nods, that the solution is more and better education.

Nor is this response peculiarly South African: the former British prime minister Tony Blair once claimed that “education, education, education” would solve his country’s problems.

Visiting French economist Thomas Piketty also told us recently of education’s role in reducing inequality here.

Surely this is obvious?

Well, no. Not only is education not a miracle cure, but the fixation with its supposed healing powers may be diverting us from tackling our problems.

Before the accusations begin, the benefits of an education are obvious, particularly to those of us lucky enough to have one. But education is not the cure-all solution it is meant to be.

Recently, Ricardo Hausmann, a former Venezuelan cabinet minister and academic economist who is no wild-eyed radical, published an article showing that education is not on its own an engine of economic growth. His numbers show that huge growth in education levels over the past 50 years have not translated into equivalent growth in the economy.

Hausmann pointed out that China’s educational progress lags behind that of Tunisia, Mexico, Kenya and Iran — yet it grew much faster than any of them. He added that if education on its own produced growth, Albania, Armenia and Sri Lanka would not be poverty stricken: “Whatever is preventing these countries from becoming richer, it is not lack of education.”

Nor does evidence necessarily show that education is a fix for inequality: recent research by the Brookings Institution in the US shows that while, not surprisingly, poor people improve their situation if they receive an education, this does not reduce overall inequality.

It is also clear that education often produces inequality — the well-off attend the best schools and universities, while the poor make do with the education system’s crumbs. So it may well be that equality is needed to fix education, not that education is needed to fix inequality.

More than 20 years ago, sociologist Harold Wolpe argued against the idea that education alone could erode inequality if other measures were not taken to attend to the problem. The evidence supports him.
There are many debates about the link between education, on the one hand, and poverty and inequality on the other.

But what is clear is that it is simply not true that education on its own solves these problems — at the very least, other remedies are needed.

This is why harping on education can hold us back — by diverting our attention from other problems that need attention.

A frequent problem is that the education argument becomes a handy excuse for those who are doing well and do not want anything to change.

For them, the argument that “education is the answer” really means that “they” should stop complaining about “us”. Instead, “they” should realise that “we” are doing well because we know much more than them — if “they” want to be like “us”, they should learn how.

The handy thing about this argument is that it places all the blame on people at the bottom and requires no change at all from those at the top. Like the claim that voters need “education” whenever they behave in a way that elites dislike, this is more about making people at the top feel better than about solving problems.

Even where the purpose is not to shift blame on to the poor, focusing on education at the expense of other priorities can worsen problems — an oft-cited example in our region is Zimbabwe, which made substantial gains in education after majority rule, but did not fix the other problems that needed attention if it was to prosper.

Inequality remains our deepest problem — far too deep to be solved by one “fix” alone. It requires a range of solutions, all of which need to be negotiated among the major economic actors and all of which require all to change the way they do things and to give up some of what they have in the interests of a future that can work for all. Education may feature in that process — but it is no substitute for it.

On Friday, the day which saw masses gather at the Union Building in Pretoria to hear president Zuma announce a zero percent increase in tertiary education fees, Friedman spoke to CapeTalk’s John Maytham, saying he believes the campaign won’t hurt the ANC government.

With regards to the #FeesMustFall campaign, Friedman says, “It is important, but it is not as significant as many people think”.

Listen to the podcast to find out why he says so:


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Our Students Shouldn’t be Paying More than R250 000 for a Degree – Nomalanga Mkhize

The Fate of the Eastern CapeEarlier this year Dr Nomalanga Mkhize, history lecturer at Rhodes University and contributor to The Fate of the Eastern Cape: History, Politics and Social Policy, wrote a poignant article for Business Day in which she asked:

Is it really worth paying up to R100,000 a year to get an undergraduate degree from one of SA’s top universities?

The recent, and ongoing, #WitsFeesMustFall protest – which was ignited by a dramatic increase in fees for Wits University in 2016 – makes Mkhize’s article reflection on the reality of the South African Higher Education System even more relevant and important.

“By the time a student at Wits, Rhodes or the University of Cape Town walks onto the graduation stage, their parents would have coughed up R300,000 – R400,000 for their child’s first degree, including fees and residence costs. There is something really wrong here,” the academic and social commentator writes.

Read the article:

No student in a developing country should be paying more than R250,000 to obtain a humble BA or B.Com degree. It is not as if students will leave our top universities with a diamond-studded parchment and a red carpet to their first job rolled out to justify these costs.

So what is going on here? New Rhodes University vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela gave some insight into sustainability challenges facing SA’s universities, saying government funding has been declining in real and per capita terms since 2000, forcing institutions to find new strategies to remain financially stable.

For more on the #WitsFeesMustFall protest, read:

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Don’t Miss the Decolonising the Curriculum Seminar with Nomalanga Mkhize at Rhodes University

The Fate of the Eastern Cape: History, Politics and Social PolicyNomalanga Mkhize, history lecturer and contributing author to The Fate of the Eastern Cape: History, Politics and Social Policy by Greg Ruiters, will be presenting a seminar at the CHERTL Doctoral Week at Rhodes University.

Mkhize will be speaking about decolonising the curriculum – postulating that “Universities are failing to impart new ideas to grapple with black pain” – on Monday, 12 October, between 2 and 4 PM.

Don’t miss out!

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How Harold Wolpe Came to Terms with Post-apartheid SA – Excerpt from Steven Friedman’s Race, Class and Power

Race, Class and PowerRace, Class and Power: Harold Wolpe and the Radical Critique of Apartheid is the latest book by political scientist Steven Friedman in which he looks at the major contribution Harold Wolpe made to the South African political, intellectual and social spheres.

The Con has shared an excerpt from Chapter 11 of the book, titled “A few small areas in the vicinity of Beijing: Harold Wolpe and post-apartheid South Africa”.

In the chapter, Friedman writes about the two occasions when Wolpe had to confront the inner tension between his loyalty to the liberation movement and his commitment to his own ideas. Friedman further analyses Wolpe’s “coming out as a critical theorist” after he wrote an article for Transformation in 1995 expressing his discontent with the way in which the transition took place, offering an answer to the question of how Wolpe came to terms with post-apartheid South Africa.

Read the excerpt:

Twice during his life, Wolpe was obliged to confront the tension between his loyalty to the movement and his commitment to his ideas. The first time was when he was sidelined by the SACP and, to a lesser extent, the ANC. The second was when, in the last years of his life, he sought to come to terms with the beginnings of post- apartheid society.

Saleem Badat says that Wolpe was ‘greatly excited by the political transition and the victory of the ANC’. Although he accepted that ‘the legacy of severe socio-structural inequalities and the terms of the transition’ made unlikely a ‘total displacement of old institutions, overall he was optimistic about the prospects of far-reaching changes’. He also saw ‘the logic . . . of consensus politics’ but feared that consensus among the elites would be gained at the expense of the ‘dispossessed’ and was ‘alarmed’ by signs of an ‘unwitting embrace of the modernisation and human capital . . . paradigms of the 1950s’. He was ‘all too aware of the parallels with the contemporary banal proclamations of the end of history and the death of ideology, so that we are more effectively ensnared in the . . . attitudes of “greed is cool” and “get what you can and screw the rest”’.

Also read:


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Sunday Roasts, R&B and Koeksusters – Or None of the Above: Danielle Bowler Considers Coloured Identity

UbuntuDanielle Bowler, a Mandela Rhodes scholar and contributor to the recently released Ubuntu: Curating the Archive, recently wrote an opinion piece considering the idea of “coloured identity” in South Africa.

Bowler refers to Pumla Dineo Gqola’s book What is Slavery to Me? Postcolonial memory and the postapartheid imagination, and says a particular quote from it resonated with her: “I have a multiple identity. There is no crisis. There is a kind of delight in jumping from one identity to the next.”

Our concept of race, according to Bowler, relies on us “ignoring, compressing and abandoning difference, to make neat categories of identification”. However, definitions of coloured identity differ between members of that community, and often contradict one another: “For some it is embedded in Sunday roast lunches, doilies and old school R&B, for others it is attached to koeksusters, jazz-ing and Judy Boucher, for even more it is none of the above.”

Bowler concludes: “When it comes to issues of coloured identity and what it has come to mean, there are often more questions than answers, and we should take the questions seriously.”

Read the article:

The idea that colouredness is a racial midpoint between blackness and whiteness still has social power – which is key to the motivation behind Peterson’s piece. As Brooks notes: “we still have a strong attachment to the racial classifications Verwoerd and his ilk devised”, and have inherited the acceptance of apartheid racial classifiers for varied reasons.

As a consequence, we find ourselves still trying to make sense of and deal with how race, intersected with class, determines and makes different our experiences of citizenship. We find ourselves, as Gqola phrases it, “both free and not entirely free of apartheid”, trying to make sense of all that lingers.

While we know race is a myth and lacks scientific basis, it still has deep social and political effects and in many ways operates as a social fact. People have built their lives, experiences, intimate relationships, friendship circles and understandings of themselves around it. This is why we have to take particular experiences, and race itself, seriously.

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Don’t Miss Steven Friedman’s Public Dialogue with Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga in Cape Town

Race, Class and Power: Harold Wolpe and the Radical Critique of ApartheidSteven Friedman, author of Race, Class and Power: Harold Wolpe and the Radical Critique of Apartheid and director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, will be taking part in a public dialogue on “The Cancer of Corruption in South Africa” hosted by the Centre for Conflict Resolution.

Ben Turok will facilitate the conversation between Friedman and Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga.

The event will be on Monday, 21 September, from 5:30 to 7 PM at the Centre for the Book.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Monday, 21 September 2015
  • Time: 5:30 to 7 PM
  • Venue: Centre for the Book
    62 Queen Victoria Street
    Gardens | Map
  • Panel: Ben Turok (chair) and Kevin Malunga
  • RSVP: Kate Finlay, CCR,

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