The Dynamics of the Post-Liberation Period in Namibia, SA and Zimbabwe
Southern Africa: The Dynamics of the Post-Liberation Period in Namibia, SA and Zimbabwe
Date Posted: Monday 17-May-2010
By Alexactus T Kaure
WHY Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe now? Well, the three countries share some striking historical similarities. They were settler colonies.
The three were fiercely involved in a protracted struggle for independence. Then, of course, they were the latecomers on the continent's independence map. They also had some of the best physical infrastructure by African standards and were thus ready for economic take-off.
And because they were engaged in the war of liberation against malignant colonial/apartheid states, most people read too much in the possibility for a more radical or even revolutionary change once these countries gained independence. One of the high expectations was how the three liberation movements which came to power in these countries - Swapo, the ANC and Zanu - were going to address the 'national question' which centred on the land issue and economic inequality.
And don't forget that the three main parties that are now running these countries are said to be friends. Although before independence both Swapo and the ANC were aligned with the now assimilated Zapu and not Zanu, just as Swapo was also closely affiliated with Unita rather than the MPLA before Angola's independence. But these are beside the point now.
What I want to interrogate here, in very broad strokes, is whether the three movements have lived up to the expectations of not only their own people but also those who supported them internationally. One thing must be made clear. Of the three parties, the ANC never pretended to be a socialist or a revolutionary party, say in the mould of the MPLA or Frelimo.
But both Swapo and Zanu had socialist pretensions. And in all earnest immediately after the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980, Zanu tried or said it was implementing socialism. It immediately started to implement the much-needed land reform programme which led to an increase in overall food production in the country. And Robert Mugabe was a respected statesman globally. But already in the late 1980s the epithet on the system failure was being written, for example in the memorable phrase of Andrew Astrow: 'the revolution that lost its way'.
In Namibia, on the other hand, there were no pretensions of implementing the socialist agenda. Instead Swapo went into full gear not only to retain the colonial (read capitalist) economy, but it actually entrenched and broadened it by bringing in a few black faces through the so-called black economic empowerment (BEE) to join the white capitalist class.
This, it must be said, was also employed in Zimbabwe and it is being applied in SA as well. This strategy of empowering a few individuals instead of developing the whole country didn't work in Zimbabwe otherwise its economy shouldn't have collapsed like a pack of cards. It was like a house built on sand, although Namibia and SA are still religiously pre-occupied with the BEE agenda. Is it because the leadership in these countries cannot conceptually conceive of an alternative or is it simply the easiest way to go down? As they say, there is always a good reason to do the wrong things.
On the thorny land issue all three countries have not fared that well either, to put it mildly. Zimbabwe was successful in the early years but then things started going awfully bad in early 2000 when Mugabe began losing political clout at home and thus wanted to hang on to power by any means necessary. This led to wholesale land invasion sanctioned by his government or buying land for his family, including his wife, and also friends and top politicians.
In Namibia the situation is not much different from the one that pertains in Zimbabwe. Here the whole exercise is rather symbolic which is meant to placate the people, especially in a system based on patrimonial networks. We are told millions are spent every year to buy land but who gets farms and for what purpose is not clearly spelled out.
Even people who could afford to buy farms through the normal commercial channels ended up being resettled, leaving the most needy or 'real' farmers out. In fact the 'land issue is now a non-issue' because everyone 'who is who' in Zimbabwe, Namibia and SA now own a farm - some even multiple farms. Thus what applies to Zimbabwe and Namibia also applies to SA, albeit with some variations here and there.
Thus the radical changes that were promised by the leaders and envisaged when these three liberation movements came to power, didn't materialize. Instead what developed here are patrimonial states. And by definition such systems can never be conducive to radical economic development and progressive social change. Especially if this is cast in the neo-liberal logic of global capitalism to which our leaders have no response.
Original Source: The Namibian (Windhoek)
Original date published: 14 May 2010
Source Url: http://allafrica.com/stories/2010051...html?viewall=1