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Über dieses Buch

This book analyses the past and ongoing decline of Zimbabwe under the rule of ZANU-PF, with a primary focus on the period 1997 to the present. In contrast to much existing literature on post-independence Zimbabwe which has focused on the political dimensions of Zimbabwe’s fragility, this research highlights the economic aspects of Zimbabwe’s regression flowing from prolonged mismanagement of the economy which has served to consolidate the rule of the country’s political and economic elite. The Zimbabwean experience offers unique insights into the economic mensions of regime preservation. This book situates the Zimbabwe experience within the context of wider debates within the field of development studies, and the international community’s response to such situations.



1. Introduction

Against the backdrop of negative news on Zimbabwe that has been the norm since 2000, Simpson and Hawkins remind readers how Zimbabwe was widely seen as a potential African success story at Independence in 1980. They highlight its then relatively diversified economy, strong human capital base and sound infrastructure, as well as the international goodwill it enjoyed. In the area of political governance, the Lancaster House constitution had entrenched the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary and multi-party elections. The authors note that such baselines are important as they serve to highlight the extent of Zimbabwe’s regression that began in the late 1990s, and which they argue is a function of the desire of the ruling party to remain in power at all costs through the construction of extractive economic and political institutions.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

2. The Economics of State Fragility

Simpson and Hawkins set Zimbabwe’s experience within the wider phenomenon of fragile/failed states. The authors review international evidence on the positive links between state effectiveness, state legitimacy, economic growth and poverty reduction. They argue such links provide essential insights into the causes and nature of Zimbabwe’s uniquely negative experience, characterised by economic destruction and poverty production rather than growth and poverty reduction. Attention is drawn to literature on the role of effective state bureaucracies in triggering both economic growth and development through nurturing of markets, the importance of removing obstacles to the participation of the poor in the economy, the role of the rule of law, the significance of social and fiscal contracts and the credibility and predictability of state policies, all features that became increasingly conspicuous by their absence in Zimbabwe.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

3. Zimbabwe’s First Decade: Building the One-Party State and Controlling the Economy

The authors examine the first decade of Zimbabwe’s independence from 1980 to 1990 in terms of the country’s economic performance. They show how early robust post-independence economic growth rates soon dropped to more moderate levels, setting the pattern for subsequent years with the economy continually failing to create enough jobs for a growing population, resulting in persistent budget deficits and a growing domestic and foreign debt. They draw attention to early signs of ruling party mistrust of markets and private sector-led growth, and slow progress in the area of land reform which stored up trouble for the future, as well as indications that the ruling party intended to change Zimbabwe’s political governance systems to facilitate the establishment of a one-party system. Tracking the country’s growing economic difficulties during the first decade of independence, they show how these were to eventually compel the ruling party to adopt an economic structural adjustment programme.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

4. Regime Interests and the Failure of Economic Reform in the 1990s

Simpson and Hawkins examine Zimbabwe’s experiment with structural adjustment in the 1990s, and show how the sub-optimal results of economic liberalisation were due to a combination of both exogenous factors and poor design and implementation. They draw attention to the strong resistance within ZANU-PF to liberalisation and weakening of state control over the economy, and link such opposition to concerns this would reduce the scope for patronage. Faced with such resistance, structural adjustment would eventually fail and be replaced by even more interventionist policies. These, in turn, led to further declines in the country’s fiscal, domestic and foreign debt positions, falling output and real wages, and rising unemployment. The chapter concludes by linking the rise of the opposition MDC to deteriorating economic conditions and growing resistance to ZANU-PF’s political authoritarianism.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

5. Regime Survival and the Fast Track Land Reform Programme

The authors analyse the watershed development which more than any other set Zimbabwe down the path of economic destruction and deepening state fragility, namely the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) launched in 2000. Contrary to ZANU-PF’s efforts to portray the FTLRP in terms of the correction of a historical social injustice, they argue the initiative was primarily based on regime survival imperatives. They highlight the role of patronage in ensuring continued loyalty to the party, and how former white-owned commercial agricultural land was distributed accordingly. They examine the devastating collateral damage wrought by the FTLRP on Zimbabwe’s economy as commercial agricultural production collapsed, contributing to falling output, rising unemployment, shrinking export receipts, growing budget deficits, as well as the weakening of the rule of law and increased political repression. They show how this set the scene for the economic meltdown of the mid-2000s as the Government adopted increasingly profligate monetary and fiscal policies in a forlorn effort to arrest the decline.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

6. Regime Survival and the Attack on the Urban Poor

Simpson and Hawkins draw attention to the collapse in formal employment which caused by the poor growth rates registered since independence, and which resulted in a swelling of the ranks of those forced to seek their livelihoods in the informal sector. They show how the growing urban informal sector became a significant support base for the MDC, and which by 2005 was perceived as a threat to ZANU-PF’s continued rule. The full force of the state was eventually used to crush informal operators in one of the African continent’s most notorious urban clean-up operations, and the authors analyse the various interpretations put forward for operation Murambatsvina, and detail its economic and humanitarian consequences.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

7. Regime Survival: Poverty Creation, Mass Migration and Elite Enrichment

The authors show how, in the face of worsening employment conditions, an growing humanitarian emergency and increasing political repression, large numbers of Zimbabweans fled the country, while others were able to enrich themselves amidst increasing destitution. They analyse the consequences for state fragility as capacity drained out of the public sector and the quality of planning and service delivery deteriorated. Simpson and Hawkins examine how the private sector was also not able to shield itself from the increasingly unpredictable monetary and fiscal policies pursued by Government, and was likewise crippled by the mass migration of skilled and semi-skilled workers. The chapter also looks at the increasingly important role played by diaspora remittances in sustaining the livelihoods of those who remained.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

8. International Isolation and the Search for New Friends

This chapter provides an overview of Zimbabwe’s gradual estrangement from Western donors and international financial institutions. Simpson and Hawkins track the evolution of Harare’s relations with Western donors as its foreign debt became increasingly unmanageable and the government proved unwilling to take the necessary corrective measures. They show how this would eventually lead to the adoption of restrictive measures which cut Zimbabwe off from new loans, grants and technical assistance. The authors also examine the Western response to Zimbabwe’s deteriorating political governance, as Western capitals introduced targeted sanctions against the ruling elite, and how faced with such Western hostility Harare sought to build alliances with a range of developing countries as an alternative to Western assistance, most particularly China with which it came to enjoy close economic, political and military ties.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

9. Economic Meltdown and Elections

Simpson and Hawkins examine the quickening pace of economic decline in the mid-2000s, culminating in 2008 with the descent into hyperinflation, the collapse of output and employment, the final stages of the hollowing out of state capacity, and the state’s inability to deliver even the most basic of public goods leading to the effective collapse of the health and education sectors. They track Zimbabwe’s downwards trajectory amidst apparent regime disinterest for the long-term consequences of the quickening pace of decline. The chapter describes how the 2008 Presidential and legislative elections were held amidst massive intimidation and vote-rigging by the ruling party. The results showed the extent of popular disillusionment with the ruling party, after which the full force of state repression was unleashed against the MDC-T to ensure the maintenance of the regime. This would eventually lead to a power-sharing agreement, but which the authors point out was one in which ZANU-PF retained control of key ministries.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

10. The Challenges of Cohabitation

The authors analyse the progress driven by the Opposition parties in the power-sharing Interim Government, in particular in the areas of monetary and fiscal policy as exemplified in the abandonment of the Zimbabwe dollar and the adoption of strict controls over public expenditure. They point out the role respected MDC ministers played in contributing to a renewal of Western development assistance to Zimbabwe, which in turn led to a rebound in the fortunes of the education and health sectors. Nevertheless, against these positive developments, they also draw attention to the continued ability of ZANU-PF to block progress on issues ranging from solutions to Zimbabwe’s unsustainable foreign debt to the repeal of repressive legislation, and also reference worrying signs of the adoption by former opposition members the predatory behaviour of their ZANU-PF colleagues.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

11. Protecting the ZANU-PF State: Safeguarding Extractive Political Structures

In this chapter Simpson and Hawkins highlight the significance of the Opposition’s failure to reform the country’s defence, police and intelligence forces and neutralise the symbiotic relationship that had developed between senior securocrats and leadership of ZANU-PF. They show how by using the constitutional revision process, ZANU-PF was also able to ensure that its various redlines were not transgressed, most particularly those concerning security sector reform, transitional justice, electoral reform and the maintenance of a powerful Executive Presidency, such that by the end of the cohabitation arrangement its extractive political institutions, which supported its extractive economic institutions, had been left largely intact.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

12. Protecting the ZANU-PF State: Safeguarding Extractive Economic Institutions

The authors analyse ZANU-PF’s efforts during the Interim Government to ensure that the parallel economic systems over which it presided were successfully kept beyond the control of its partners in the IG, and show how this allowed it to both access to its own sources of revenue and continue to feed its patronage network. Attention is drawn to the role of the country’s diamond wealth in providing ZANU-PF with the means to secure independence from the national Treasury. As Simpson and Hawkins note, the close links established between ZANU-PF, the security forces and certain mining companies led to high levels of non-transparency in regards to the country’s diamond wealth, as a result of which Zimbabwe rapidly became a prime example of the resource curse at work. They also show how ZANU-PF’s need to access new resources to oil its patronage machinery would eventually lead to the development of the country’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment policy.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

13. A Resurgent ZANU-PF

Simpson and Hawkins examine how ZANU-PF, after its shock defeat in 2008, single-mindedly and successfully focused on rebuilding and strengthening its support base. They highlight the serious shortcomings within the Opposition during the IG which helped ZANU-PF capitalise on the MDC-T’s failure to make major inroads into the complex networks of influence and mutual dependence between ZANU-PF and a range of old and new social and economic forces, interests and institutions. They argue the MDC-T’s failure to advance key elements of its reform programme was partly a result of its gradual accommodation to ZANU-PF governance practices during the IG, as well as an indication of just how difficult it is to displace deeply entrenched extractive political and economic systems which had gone uncontested over decades in countries such as Zimbabwe.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins

14. The Transitions That Weren’t

In this concluding chapter, Simpson and Hawkins show how after ZANU-PF’s 2013 victory economic growth rates began to falter, unemployment rose, companies again began to close, and agriculture performance remained poor. They analyse how the ruling party, once in full control of monetary and fiscal policy, focused on replenishing its patronage systems and used these instruments to engage again in deficit financing. Corruption gathered pace as securocrats were rewarded with posts in already bankrupt state enterprises and parastatals, Zimbabweans were once again emigrating both legally and illegally in growing numbers, and the country remained a hostage to internal ZANU-PF disputes around the succession question. The military coup of November 2017 is contextualised, and the authors conclude that, leaving aside the short interregnum of the IG, as of 2018 Zimbabwe seems never to have left the downward path towards economic destruction, poverty production and increasing state fragility begun two decades earlier.
Mark Simpson, Tony Hawkins


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