The Primacy of Regime Survival State Fragility and Economic Destruction in Zimbabwe

Review :

The book can be thought of as a case study of "Why Nations Fail" by Acemoglu and Robertson. The format of the book resembles a series of academic papers discussing the economy and key events in chronological order since 1980 Until the coup of 2017. The book itself is well written and easy to understand and follow with very few dense sections. Onto the content of the book, the author posits that the current structure of the economy is to enable elite looting via creation of patronage networks that keep the ruling party in power at the expense of the majority. The author points out to many irrational economic decisions that had high populist yields and spinoffs that enabled elites to steal such as land reform and the payoffs to war veterans that crashed the value of the Zim dollar in the 90s. The author also posits that currency and exchange rate control and manipulation have since the 90s been an instrument of arbitrage and looting with the nadir being in the 2000s when the exchange rate of the Zim dollar to the USD was fixed by the RBZ at less than 1000% (in some cases) the rate of the parallel market. The economic effects of vindictive political episodes such as operation Murambatsvina are analyzed in depth. The link between extractive institutions and the inherent absence of incentives for such institutions to reform and fix the economy to create self sufficiency outside of patronage networks is carefully argued and illustrated. Overall, the book saps the hope that things will change anytime soon as long as the primacy of power retention is placed ahead of the economy and the people in it.

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