State formation and state consolidation in post colonial Southern Africa

Lodge, Tom
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Post colonial southern African states are distinctive for their relative administrative capacity and their fairly effective governance. Analysis of African states has identified a prevalent set of weaknesses: uncertain territorial jurisdiction, underperformance, overconsumption of restricted resources, external dependency, corruption and the privatisation of public resources by unproductive ruling groups. No southern African state is entirely free of these shortcomings but they affect the functioning of government less in this region than elsewhere in Africa. Southern African states differ characteristically from most African post-colonial states in having stronger or at least longer established traditions of legitimation and political continuity. In several countries the formation of the modern state has been facilitated by the congruence of frontiers with precolonial political boundaries: Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and in certain respects, South Africa have benefitted from this. In the cases of South Africa and Zimbabwe especially, complete sovereignty or at least considerable political autonomy for most of the century, has enabled their administrations to develop a degree of social impermeability. State autonomy is also facilitated by what are in African terms quite well developed capitalist class structures in relatively diversified economies; in especially South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Swaziland, the state is less significant than elsewhere upon the continent as a nexus of class formation and hence can function more independently of specific social forces. These qualities reflect the comparatively sophisticated bureaucratic development required to administer a labour repressive mining economy which evolved at the turn the century, fairly extensive secondary industrialisation in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and sharply differentiated social structures which include large and well organised working classes and correspondingly vigorous industrial, commercial and agricultural bourgeoisies. What follows is an elaboration of this argument which will examine in turn the salient characteristics of all the southern African states considering their functional disposition and effectiveness before discussing their social orientation and their relationships with the societies they govern.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 19 August 1996
Africa, Southern. Politics and government. 1975-1994., Africa, Southern. History. Autonomy and independence movements