New paper on 'The Anatomy of Political Predation in Zimbabwe'

Why, after liberation in 1980, did the ruling political elite in Zimbabwe resort more to predation than development and bring about the terrible economic and political decline in that country? And why, even in the face of the current political and economic crises, have rival elites failed to forge a common developmental coalition?

In this research paper commissioned for the DLP, Michael Bratton and Eldred Masunungure, offer a fine-grained political analysis of this story. Focussing on the role of ‘agency’, they analyse how and why the country’s leaders failed to craft a political settlement that reconciled and addressed the diverse interests of political, military, business, labour and agricultural elites. Instead, a narrow coalition of political leaders, backed by their military allies, made self-interested and ill-advised policy decisions which, intentionally or not, caused institutional and socio-economic breakdown.

Exploring the relations between structure and agency, this path-breaking paper illustrates the value of detailed and historically-grounded political analysis for understanding developmental outcomes. And it also points up the limitations of political-economy and game theoretical approaches for engaging with the complex interactions of micro-politics, contingencies and specificities of context and structure that shape outcomes. The paper concludes with a series of significant policy messages for the international community.

Download the paper: Michael Bratton & Eldred Masunungure (2011) "The Anatomy of Political Predation: Leaders, Elites and Coalitions in Zimbabwe, 1980-2010" DLP Research Paper 09 or visit our publications page.

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About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

Find out more


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