THE POLITICAL ECONOMY Of NEOCOLONIALISM

The political economy of Zimbabwe is comparable to that of other African, Latin American, and Asian states that have remained in a disarticulated pattern of accumulation with unresolved agrarian questions. This persisting underdevelopment is part and parcel of the neocolonial situation, that is, the failure of juridically independent states to complete the national democratic revolution. This remains the case despite complete transitions to capitalism in the twentieth century.

The case of Zimbabwe, and Southern Africa more generally, consists in a subtype of neocolonialism, deriving from the white-settler colonial experience. One crucial aspect of white-settler colonial capitalism was that, periodically, it manifested strong contradictions between introverted and extroverted capitalist accumulation strategies. This was especially the case in Zimbabwe upon the emergence of an industrial bourgeoisie in the course of the two World Wars. In this sense, the historical experience of Zimbabwe (together with South Africa) can be understood as comparable to semiperipheral Latin American countries. A second aspect of white-settler capitalism, however, was that, in the organization of the labor process, white capital exercised both “direct” and “indirect” power over the indigenous black population. This contrasts with recent interpretations regarding the primacy of “indirect” rule in Africa,4 and it also contrasts with Latin American experiences, where the postslavery latifundio-minifundio system did not institutionalize racial segregation. These two aspects of white-settler capitalism have given a particular shape to neocolonialism in Zimbabwe, notably in its dynamics of class, race, and nation.

 
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