(Re-)Visiting Inequalities and Boundaries in Southern Africa (Working Group “Europe and Transitions in (Southern) Africa)”)

Final globalization since the end of the Cold War had been a contributing factor to an appeasement strategy in Southern Africa, when the last remnants of Apartheid and settler-colonialism were formally abandoned with the UN-supervised transition to Namibian independence in 1989/90 and the democratic elections in South Africa 1994. But as in the negotiated transitions in Zimbabwe (1980) and South Africa (1994), the structural legacy of what had been euphemistically called “separate development” continued and left its impact on socio-economic realities.

The new governments occupied the political commanding heights while to a large extent “business as usual” continued to shape the socio-economic realities. As in other societies of the region and in the continent, inequalities were hardly eliminated beyond the creation of a new elite, benefitting from a predominantly unabated rent-seeking capitalist system and “black empowerment”, which translates into further empowerment of a black elite. The full integration of the sovereign states and their economies into the world system did change political representation but did not decisively change the external influences and the nature of the economies or the reproduction of an established class structure with some modifications (such as a new black middle class and a small group of nouveau riche).

This EADI WG would like to invite papers, which examine socio-economic aspects of the social realities since independence of the countries in the sub-region. They should/could explore the scope and limits to economic transformation, the enormous social disparities and income discrepancies, but also examine social and economic policies by the governments, as well as the responses by states to challenges such as climate change and environmental degradation. The land issue as much as tax policy could be matters of interest and the role of the emerging new local elites closely linked to the political office bearers (or being part of these).

We would like to encourage also comparative studies based on two or more cases to explore the extent of different (or similar) policies by the governments since majority rule and how these have adapted to the global system.


Henning Melber, Arrigo Pallotti, Ian Phimister, Mario Zamponi