Are reforms in southern Africa only about modernising the domination of former liberation movements?


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And Mnangagwa has offered some compensation to white farmers whose land was seized from 2000 onwards, precipitating the collapse in the economy.

Ramaphosa, meanwhile, though not yet South Africa’s president, has already begun to flex his muscles through the ANC, pushing Zuma to appoint a long-delayed judicial commission of inquiry into ‘state capture’ by Zuma’s business cronies, the Gupta family, and also to fire corrupt senior officials from the most captured entity, the electricity parastatal Eskom. He is widely expected to force Zuma out of office before his term expires in mid-2019.

Lourenço, Mnangagwa and Ramaphosa all made star turns at last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, visibly signalling re-entry into the global community. It was the first-ever visit to this gathering of the global business elite by an Angolan president.

Both Mnangagwa and Lourenço then went on to the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa. While Mugabe had been a regular at AU summits, Dos Santos had not attended since 2010.

In some ways these parallel events in Angola, Zimbabwe and South Africa were prefigured in 2015 in other countries in the region still ruled by former liberation movements.

In Tanzania, John Magufuli succeeded Jakaya Kikwete as leader of the ruling CCM party and of the country and began cleaning out corruption and waste.

And in Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi replaced Armando Guebuza as national president in 2015, then ousted him as Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) leader, and started rooting out corruption and inefficiency.

But will this go beyond curbing corruption and reforming economies? Are these measures pragmatically and deliberately intended by the former liberation movements (FLMs as they call themselves) just to ensure they remain in power?

Is this really only about modernising FLM domination? Or are we likely to see far-reaching reforms that truly open up the political space for opposition parties and create the real possibility that the FLMs might actually lose – and concede – power in the foreseeable future?

To help answer that question it is instructive to read the report ‘War with the West’ produced by the secretaries-general of the six Southern African FLMs – which have ruled since independence – at their 2016 meeting in Zimbabwe.

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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