The full interview is worth watching.
Mnangagwa has interesting theories of democratic transition (elite pacts, negotiated quietly, work) and Zimbabwe-UK relations (female British premiers are better for Zimbabwe than their male counterparts).
I must say I admire his practical approach (at least as stated here) to getting out of Zimbabwe’s political economy logjam of the last two decades.
I am not holding my breath for free and fair elections this year. But at the same time, I think that it is highly unlikely that Zimbabwe will go back to being as unfree as it was in the last two decades of Robert Mugabe’s rule.
Given the little that I know about Zimbabwe politics, my biggest surprise during this transition process has been the seemingly moderate levels of institutionalization of ZANU-PF and the military. It looks like the party will survive Mugabe, which is not something one can say about UNIP, or KANU, or NRM, for example.
Zoe Samudzi provides some excellent answers to the question of why President Robert Mugabe has had such staying power despite the many political and economic upheavals that have beset Zimbawe since the late 1990s.
Here is an excerpt:
Throughout the course of his thirty-six years in office, President Robert Mugabe has used coercion and violence to clear the Zimbabwean political arena of opposition and dissent and consolidate his political power. He has singularly blamed the deteriorating economy on western sanctions rather than responsibly attributing it also to his own inadequate planning, mismanagement of both capital and resources, his allowance of economic liberalisation and structural adjustment, and political corruption. Yet, contrary to the singularly critical narratives that tend to dominate, he enjoys some earnest support beyond what western reports about stolen elections indicate.
Most critically, the land issue – an issue of indigenous sovereignty, and perhaps the most unifying politic of Black resistance to colonial rule – went unaddressed. President Mugabe’s refusal to resign or allow regime change is justified, in part, by an idea that the revolution was stalled, and there must be consistent leadership in its continuity. It is no mistake that the ongoing process of land repossession and reform is characterised as the Third Chimurenga, and it is no accident that such vehement western critique has been levelled at state policy (genuine or otherwise) seeking to regain land sovereignty.
Remember that around independence in 1980 some 6,000 European immigrants, nearly all of whom defended the apartheid-lite (Southern) Rhodesian regime, owned 42% of Zimbabwe. Given the importance of land in an agrarian economy such as Zimbabwe’s, this was always going to be a politically untenable situation — regardless of the race of the landowners. Zimbabwe was on a path to significant land redistribution, one way or another.
So why didn’t Zimbabwe deal with the land question before independence in 1980?
The answer has to do with the the relative political power of the European settler community, especially after UDI. Since 1923 the group had enjoyed effective self-government with significant autonomy from London. And it is precisely because of their political power that Zimbabwe never had a “Swynnerton Plan” akin to what happened in Kenya in response to the Mau Mau anti-colonial insurgency.
Zimbabwe’s landowners failed to appreciate the need to make deals when they had the (political) upper hand. And by so doing set themselves up for very costly reforms/expropriations thirty years hence.
Why they made this choice is an interesting and open question.
Perhaps they trusted that Zimbabwe would continue to rely on Western aid in a manner that would have incentivized property rights protection by the government (under the threat of aid cuts and sanctions). They may have also thought that the government would not be crazy enough to jeopardize its commercial farming sector and risk total economic collapse. Another reason might have been the comfort of knowing that any land reform efforts in Zimbabwe would elicit reaction from South Africa (then under apartheid) in defense of property rights.
Apartheid, of course, ended in 1994. And the first two considerations did not stop President Robert Mugabe, at great cost to Zimbabweans of all stripes.
Given the complicated history of Zimbabwe and the wider anti-colonial struggle in eastern and southern Africa, I expect Mugabe’s legacy to be sanitized as soon as he passes on, especially outside of Zimbabwe.
Malawi has led the way, with life expectancy at birth rising 42 per cent from 44.1 years in 2000 to 62.7 in 2014, according to data from the World Bank.
Zambia and Zimbabwe have both seen rises of 38 per cent over the same period, with longevity in Rwanda, Botswana and Sierra Leone up more than 30 per cent.
Uganda, Ethiopia, the Republic of Congo, Niger and Kenya have all witnessed rises of more than 20 per cent. Overall, of the 37 countries to have seen life expectancy rise by more than 10 per cent since 2000, 30 are in sub-Saharan Africa, including the 15 with the biggest gains, as the table below shows.
Not one sub-Saharan country saw life expectancy fall between 2000 and 2014.
Public health for the win.
Firstly, he said it would create “a very simple, clear vision for Barclays” as a bank focused on its two core markets of the UK and US.
Secondly, he explained that Barclays was “structurally challenged” as the majority owner of the African operation. It has all the downsides of owning 100 per cent of the business, but benefits from less than two-thirds of its profits.
……. The African operation produced an attractive 17 per cent return on equity last year in local currency, but this fell to 8.7 per cent at group level, below its 10 per cent target.
In addition, the Wall Street Journal reports that the bank is selling its Asian wealth management fund in order to focus exclusively on the US and UK markets.
Cutting the African division “was a very difficult decision,” Mr. Staley said. A U.K. tax on bank balance sheets and the regulatory costs that come with holding the unit outweighed the benefits of keeping it, he added. It is unclear when Barclays will start to sell out of the business.
In short, this data point does not reveal any new information on the state of the African economies in which Barclays is a major player.
The African Development Bank has made power generation its top priority (see list of power projects here). The US-led initiative, Power Africa, is focusing capital on some very big and interesting projects. I’m not sure if the AfDB was the instigator of the new trend (even before President Adesina), but several serious African governments have recently prioritized power generation (looking at you, Pretoria). Here’s a sample:
A 450MW gas-fired power plant near Nigeria’s Benin City. In 2014 Nigeria flared more than 290b standard cubic feet of gas.
Twenty international banks and equity funders have committed $900m to the Azura-Edo Independent Power Project, a 450MW gas-fired open-cycle power plant to be built in the country’s Edo State.
A joint venture of Siemens and Julius Berger Nigeria will start building the plant, which is expected to start generating in 2018.
Considered a model for future plants in terms of its private financing, the plant will also burn Nigeria’s natural gas, of which many billions of cubic feet are now routinely flared off as waste.
Zambia and Zimbabwe are in an advanced stage of making the 2400MW Batoka Gorge dam and power station a reality.
Construction of the Batoka Gorge hydroelectric power station to be located on the Zambezi River approximately 54km downstream of Victoria Falls is projected to commence early next year.
….That is why I am saying that we are closer to the fulfillment of the dream for the construction of the dam. Once construction starts it will take five years and we expect it to be completed by 2023.
The $450m plant to be located in Walvis Bay, is set to generate about 250 megawatts, 50 per cent of what the country currently generates internally (500 megawatts)
When Ethiopia completes construction of the [Grand Renaissance] dam in 2017, it will stand 170 metres tall (550 feet) and 1.8km (1.1 miles) wide. Its reservoir will be able to hold more than the volume of the entire Blue Nile, the tributary on which it sits (see map). And it will produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity, more than double Ethiopia’s current measly output, which leaves three out of four people in the dark.
Ongoing student protests in South Africa over university fees are a reminder of the political risks facing South Africa in light of its levels of income inequality and general economic hardship. Last month I wrote on inequality and its likely political consequences in South Africa.
Friend of the blog and Harvard-trained historian Matthew Kustenbauder read the post and wrote this thoughtful response. I am posting it with his permission.
I agree with you, Ken, that the implementation of Mugabe’s land reform in Zimbabwe was a disaster. I also agree that South Africa must reorganise its political economy or risk stability and the dividends that come with it. It is the latter observation – that stability brings dividends – that gives me pause, however, when you suggest that the same situation of land inequality holds true in South Africa. Despite recent comments by rockstar economist Thomas Piketty at this year’s Mandela Lecture, land and land redistribution is not the central issue upon which South Africa’s economic future hinges. In the South African political context (about which Piketty knows little), the land question is a stalking horse.
First of all, farmers in South Africa just like those in Zimbabwe today
get little support from their current governments (unlike the old
Rhodesian and Afrikaner governments, or the governments of the EU, which highly subsidise farmers) and are generally not members of the country’s super-wealthy elite.
Second, the only thing standing in the way of constitutional (emphasis
needed here, because the limits of land rights and conditions under which land reform is to take place in ZA is enshrined in the constitution) land reform progress in South Africa is the ANC. The ruling party has refused to complete a land audit for years, while simultaneously entrenching the power of traditional authorities who hold sway over great swaths of land.
The largest landholder in KwaZulu-Natal, for instance, is the Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini. As far as land rights and restitution go, the single greatest thing the ANC could do would be to grant legal title deeds to all those people living on “tribal lands” so that they can break free from feudalism and the shadow economy. For instance, some of the students presently protesting the high cost of university fees that put tertiary education out of their reach could, if their parents had collateral such as a land title, obtain a loan that would allow them to get an education and skills they need to get a better paying job.
Third, when all of this business about percentages of land owned by whites in South Africa at the end of 1994 and today is quoted, it deceptively excludes vast tracts of land owned by tribal chiefs and kings because this is technically considered government land. Again, there is a fundamental problem that the ANC has never addressed – land ownership and type has not been audited, even to this day. The political opposition has repeatedly asked for a land audit to be completed, and they are ignored.
As Jonny Steinberg recently observed: “The current government is twisting communal tenure into new forms, creating large blocs of ethnic power, giving rural aristocrats scandalous control over the distribution of land. This is a barely modified version of what Mahmood Mamdani described, a degradation of the citizenship of rural people.
Which brings me to the stalking horse bit. Land reform is a useful
political tool, because, in addition to locking up rural votes for the ANC
just when its urban vote share is haemorrhaging, it also serves to mask
the ANC¹s failure to address the country¹s real economic problems by
pleading to historical grievance and identity politics. First, it is a
stick with which the black intelligentsia and political ruling class can
beat Œprivileged whites¹. Second, it is an issue that stirs up strong
feelings among black voters and distracts from the real question people
should be asking in a democratic capitalist economy: Why hasn¹t the ANC produced more jobs and cleaned up crime and corruption? Third, it takes the spotlight off the mining companies and other monopoly industry in ZA that enjoy far too much protection from government already, employ more workers for better pay than the agriculture sector, and contribute a far greater percentage of national domestic product than agriculture does.
A final point, one informed by an academic who, unlike Picketty, is doing real research in South Africa. A colleague of mine is writing her
dissertation on land issues, labor disputes, etc. on farms in KZN, which
has one of the highest rates of farm murders among the provinces. After extensive interviews and field research, she has found that, almost
without fail, when black farmworkers are offered either land or cash as
compensation for land claims filings, they take the cash they simply
don’t want to farm. So this land obsession is really more of a
psychological and opportunistic symbolic issue for the ruling bourgeoisie than a real concern of the working poor. What people really need are decent-paying jobs, and flushing land rights down the toilet in the name of settling historical grievances or scoring political points against the opposition during election season will only leave South Africans poorer and hungrier in the end.
Incidentally, following Piketty’s call for land redistribution in South Africa Michael Albertus wrote a piece in the WaPo on why the ANC is unlikely to redistribute land.
Rainbowism and its most important articles of faith – truth, reconciliation and forgiveness – is fading. Reduced to a totemic commodity figure mostly destined to assuage whites’ fears, Nelson Mandela himself is on trial. Some of the key pillars of the 1994 dispensation – a constitutional democracy, a market society, non-racialism – are also under scrutiny. They are now perceived as disabling devices with no animating potency, at least in the eyes of those who are determined to no longer wait. We are past the time of promises. Now is the time to settle accounts.
But how do we make sure that one noise machine is not simply replacing another?
Economic elites in South Africa (both black and white) are playing with fire. The lessons of Zimbabwe were not learned. The implementation of Mugabe’s land reform project was a disaster, but there is no question that the levels of land inequality in Zimbabwe were simply politically untenable. Something had to give.
One need not be against everything neoliberal (whatever that means) to acknowledge that the same situation holds in South Africa, and that something will have to give. Consider Bernadette Atuahene’s observations on the land situation in South Africa:
When Nelson Mandela took power in South Africa in 1994, 87 percent of the country’s land was owned by whites, even though they represented less than ten percent of the population. Advised by the World Bank, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) aimed to redistribute 30 percent of the land from whites to blacks in the first five years of the new democracy. By 2010 — 16 years later — only eight percent had been reallocated.
In failing to redistribute this land, the ANC has undermined a crucial aspect of the negotiated settlement to end apartheid, otherwise known as the liberation bargain. According to Section 25 of the new South African constitution, promulgated in 1994, existing property owners (who were primarily white) would receive valid legal title to property acquired under prior regimes, despite the potentially dubious circumstances of its acquisition. In exchange, blacks (in South Africa, considered to include people of mixed racial descent and Indians) were promised land reform.
Rapid economic growth and mass job creation could have masked the structural inequalities that exist in South Africa. Instead the country got Jacob Zuma and a super wealthy deputy president (and BEE beneficiary), both of whom are singularly out of touch with the vast majority of South Africans.
There is no doubt that South Africa needs a complete reorganization of its political economy. The question is whether the process will be managed by a “moderate” outfit like the ANC; or whether leaders will continue to sit on their hands and allow voices of less moderate groups like the Economic Freedom Fighters to gain traction.
ps: Just in case it is not obvious, South Africans are unambiguously better off now — as a people — than they were under apartheid rule.
I just discovered the website Africa Check. It’s a fantastic resource dedicated to “sorting fact from fiction.” Three posts caught my eye, on unemployment numbers in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is 4%, 60%, or 95% depending on who you ask. The ruling ZANU-PF, in a campaign manifesto, admitted that the rate was 60%! You know things are really bad when a ruling party (in an election year!) says that this big a proportion of the working-age population is unemployed. The World Bank apparently claims that the rate is closer to 5.4%.
The state stats agency controversially claimed that the unemployment rate is only 7.5% (for the last quarter of Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency). Tolu Ogunlesi then offered this explainer on how the government arrived at the number. The numbers suggest that the actual figure varies from 7.5 to 24.2 depending on the choice of cut-off for what it means to be employed.
And in South Africa:
ANC claims that the unemployment rate at the end of 2013 was 21.9% but skeptics insist that the actual figure closer to 24.1%.
For only the second time in the last 10 years I am spending the whole summer in North America (and terribly missing the Jamuhuri). Which means I’ll have a little bit of time for some reading beyond my immediate research work. Here are some books that I have started reading since the beginning of the year or plan to read this summer. I’ll write reviews on a few of them over the next two months.
We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo
Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote – Ahmadou Kourouma
Nervous Conditions – Tsitsi Dangaremba (I am deeply embarrassed to say I’ve never finished reading this classic)
Stoner – John Williams
The Settler Economies (Kenya and Zimabwe, 1900-63) – Paul Mosley
Medieval Africa, 1250-1800 – Roland Oliver and Anthony Atmore
Democracy in Africa – Nic Cheeseman
Ethnic Patriotism and the East African Revival – Derek R. Peterson
Economic Crises and the Breakdown of Authoritarian Regimes – Thomas B. Pepinsky (If you are a Comparativist, read Pepinsky often)
The Mind of the African Strongman – Herman J. Cohen
The Firm – Duff McDonald (It’s crazy how many of my close friends work for McKinsey or are alums of the firm)
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Philosophical Breakfast Club – Laura J. Snyder
Stanford Graduate School of Business is excited to offer the Stanford Africa MBA Fellowship for the 2015-2016 application cycle. The Fellowship supports up to eight promising African students with financial need in obtaining an MBA at Stanford each year.
The Stanford Africa MBA Fellowship will provide financial support for tuition and associated fees for the two-year MBA Program (approximately $140,000). Within two years of graduating from the MBA Program, Stanford Africa MBA Fellows must return to Africa for at least two years of employment. This is an important aspect of the Fellowship because it assures that recipients will leverage their new skills to make an impact on the ground in Africa.
You can apply here.
I was fascinated by this piece in the Times about the impending retirement of Steven Ballmer as the chief executive of Microsoft. The piece notes that:
Succession planning is a delicate issue for many companies, particularly one like Microsoft, where Mr. Ballmer has been a senior employee since 1980 and chief executive since 2000, and his longtime friend, Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder, remains chairman.
“Particularly for a person like Ballmer, who really is one of the founders, leaving is almost like death, so it’s extremely difficult to have an orderly process,” said Joseph L. Bower, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “It requires a very grown-up relationship between the chief executive and his board.”
Microsoft is certainly no dictatorship but does this remind you of the delicate question of when a certain founding president in southern Africa will retire?
The most interesting paragraph notes that:
Developing a succession plan is one of a board’s chief responsibilities, but only half of companies actively groom executives, according to a 2010 study by Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance and Heidrick & Struggles, the executive search firm that is leading Microsoft’s search. Boards spend only an average two hours a year on succession planning, the study found.
One of the lessons here is that absent term limits, no one really wants to openly plan for succession (It’s obviously destabilizing, and worse, might result in internal splits and conflict). And the longer the incumbent stays, the harder it becomes to remove her; for those around them actually become invested in maintaining the status quo.
So in the end, the timing of a transition becomes not just the prerogative of the incumbent, but also of those around her – which results in the boards of private companies behaving more or less in the same way as Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s praise-singers in the military and ZANU-PF establishment.
Botswana, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are the only continental sub-Saharan African states to have never experienced military rule. Each country has managed to do so via well orchestrated coup-proofing strategies of ethnic balancing and material payoffs to the men and women with the guns and tanks.
Kenya, in particular, has perfected this art. Because of its fractious ethnic politics, ethnic balancing within the officer corps has been key to Kenya’s coup-proofing. Kenyatta (who spoke Kikuyu) had a bit of a hard time in the beginning with a Kamba and Kalenjin speakers dominated military but eventually succeeded in having his co-ethnics in key positions. But before he did so he ensured Kikuyu dominance over the paramilitary force, the General Service Unit (GSU) to balance the military. Through the 60s and 70s, Kenyatta ensured that the GSU and police could handle their own against the military in case stuff hit the fan. Moi continued along this path, so much so that for a while in the media the typical accent of a security officer – whether police or military – became an accent from the North Rift. Under Moi the Kenyan army became “Kalenjin at the bottom, Kalenjin at the middle, and Kalenjin at the top.”
Beyond the ethnic balancing, Kenya has also coup-proofed by keeping the generals wealthy and OUT OF POLITICS – at least not overtly. The generals in Kenya are probably some of the wealthiest on the Continent. I went to high school with the son of an Air Force Major General whose family was always taking foreign trips to exotic places and always made a big splash on visiting days. The only estimates I could find are from the 1960s when nearly “two thirds of the military budget went to pay and allowances, most of it to officers.” A lot of them also got free land for cash crop farming and lucrative business deals (some illegal) from the Kenyatta and Moi governments. Keenly aware of West Africa’s junior officer problem following 1981 Moi extended land grants to junior officers as well.
But despite their importance as leaders of a key national institution, most Kenyans, yours truly included, do not know much about the top generals in the army. The one chief of staff that I remember hearing a lot about in my childhood days was Gen. Mahmood Mohamed, the man who played a big role in quelling the 1982 coup attempt. For the most part I only saw these guys in the media on national holidays when they rode on the president’s Land Rover.
In other words, I think it is fair to say that, contrary to arguments made by N’Diaye, for the most part the Kenyan military has historically been fairly professionalized and depoliticized relative to other countries in the neighborhood. There is no evidence to suggest that ethnic balancing has severely interfered with the process of professionalization. Kenyan presidents’ preferred agents for dirty political work have always been the intelligence service, the police and paramilitary units, but never (to the best of my knowledge) the military. Indeed the US and British militaries have had very close technical cooperation with the Kenyan military through training, material assistance and more recently joint operations, resulting in a relatively highly trained force that has for the most part stayed clear of politics.
But this consensus appears to be slowly eroding. Before the 2013 General Elections the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga accused the military and the intelligence service of colluding with his opponent, Uhuru Kenyatta, to rig the presidential election. And now the heads of the military and intelligence service are reportedly contemplating suing a former aide to Mr. Odinga for defamation. Increasingly, the military is being dragged down to the level of the marionette-esque GSU and Police, perennial hatchet men for whoever occupies State House.
This cannot end well.
Coup proofing is hard. And the thing with coups is that once the genie is out of the box you can’t take it back. Coups just breed more coups.
This is why the generals must be left fat and happy and in the barracks, or busy keeping the peace (and hopefully not facilitating charcoal exports) in Somalia’s Jubaland State. Do your ethnic balancing and all, but by all means KEEP THEM OUT OF POLITICS (I am glad the current Defense Minister has no political constituency).
The last thing Kenya needs is a Zimbabwe situation in which there is open bad blood between the military and the opposition.
Plus Kenya, based on its per capita income, ethnic politics, and minimal experience with genuine democratic government, is still not beyond the coup trap to be able to safely play politics with the military. If you doubt me, go find out the last time Brazil, Thailand and Turkey had generals in charge.