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The political economy of Zimbabwe's descent into conflict


  • Tony Addison

    (World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU|WIDER), Helsinki, Finland)

  • Liisa Laakso

    (Department of Political Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)


The last two years have seen intensifying political violence in Zimbabwe. Could Zimbabwe slide further into political and economic turmoil? Or are there sufficient checks and balances in the social system to halt decline? The paper argues that the failed economic stabilization of the 1990s led to increased support for the opposition movement, especially among the middle-class and trade unionists who were hit by high inflation. The veterans of the liberation war and peasants-who are the power base of the ruling party both ideologically and as voters-also became increasingly disgruntled as they had received very little after independence while the leadership had enriched itself. The government was able buy the loyalty of the war veterans and to use them to intimidate the opposition, although it does not have full control over their actions. The paper concludes that democratic forces within civil society can play an important role in conflict prevention and resolution by building bridges between the different dissatisfied groups. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Tony Addison & Liisa Laakso, 2003. "The political economy of Zimbabwe's descent into conflict," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 457-470.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:15:y:2003:i:4:p:457-470
    DOI: 10.1002/jid.996

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 1998. "On Economic Causes of Civil War," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 563-573, October.
    2. Rohrbach, David D., 1989. "The Economics of Smallholder Maize Production in Zimbabwe: Implications for Food Security," Food Security International Development Papers 54060, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    3. Tony Addison & Philippe Le Billon & S. Mansoob Murshed, 2002. "Conflict in Africa: The Cost of Peaceful Behaviour," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 11(3), pages 365-386, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tony Addison, 2015. "Thirty years in Africa.s development: From structural adjustment to structural transformation?," WIDER Working Paper Series 119, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Addison, Tony, 2005. "Agricultural Development for Peace," WIDER Working Paper Series 007, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Deininger, Klaus & Castagnini, Raffaella, 2006. "Incidence and impact of land conflict in Uganda," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 321-345, July.
    4. de Felice, Damiano, 2015. "Diverging Visions on Political Conditionality: The Role of Domestic Politics and International Socialization in French and British Aid," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 26-45.
    5. Zikhali, Precious, 2008. "Tenure Security and Investments: Micro-evidence from Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme," Working Papers in Economics 321, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    6. Laakso, Liisa, 2005. "Beyond the Notion of Security Community: What Role for the African Regional Organizations in Peace and Security?," WIDER Working Paper Series 052, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    7. Miguel Rocha de Sousa, 2009. "The political economy of Land Reform: A new perspective applied to Latin America," Economics Working Papers 08_2009, University of Évora, Department of Economics (Portugal).
    8. Kinsey, Bill H., 2004. "Zimbabwe's Land Reform Program: Underinvestment in Post-Conflict Transformation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1669-1696, October.
    9. Udechukwu Ojiako & Tinashe Manungo & Max Chipulu & Johnnie Johnson, 2013. "The Impact of Regulation on Risk Perception: Evidence from the Zimbabwean Banking Industry," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 25(3), pages 276-288, September.
    10. Bird, Kate & Prowse, Martin, 2008. "Vulnerability, Poverty and Coping in Zimbabwe," WIDER Working Paper Series 041, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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