review of african political economy

What is ROAPE?

Since 1974 ROAPE has provided radical analysis of trends, issues and social processes in Africa, adopting a broadly materialist interpretation of change. It pays particular attention to the political economy of inequality, exploitation and oppression, and to organised struggles against them, whether these inequities are driven by global forces or local ones such as class, race, ethnicity and gender. It sustains a critical analysis of the nature of power and the state in Africa in the context of capitalist globalisation.

Our Quarterly Journal

ROAPE is a refereed journal committed to encouraging high quality research and fostering excellence in the understanding of African political economy. It contains academic articles, debates pieces, briefings and commentary on current events relating to Africa and an active section of book reviews. If you have material which you think should be published on this site or in the journal, see How to contribute. The Review is currently noted in African Studies Abstracts Online, African Urban & Regional Science Index, EconLit, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, International Political Science Abstracts, PAIS Select, Political Science Abstracts and SCOPUS. Individuals and institutions can SUBSCRIBE to the journal either in print or online versions, or both. If you are based in Africa and have a pressing use for the journal and no means of subscribing, please contact us.

How can I use this this website?

ROAPE is published quarterly by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group for the ROAPE international collective. All NEW ARTICLES are available on the Taylor and Francis website. This website is run by the ROAPE international collective and provides free access to the ROAPE ARCHIVES. This consists of downloadable .pdfs of all articles published by ROAPE that are more than seven years old. The site also provides advice on how to contribute or subscribe to the journal and news and information about conferences and events that we think will be of interest to our readers.


      December 2014 - Solidarity with class struggle in South Africa

      ROAPE deplores the recent attempt in South Africa to quell growing resistance to the ANC government’s neo liberal policy. A recent document was released claiming to be authored by ‘concerned members within NUMSA’ (the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa), targeting NUMSA’s leadership and supporters. Among named activists were members of RoAPE’s International Advisory Board. Supporters have been intimidated including with a break-in, stolen hard-drives from office computers and acts of vandalism.

      They have been accused of championing an agenda of illegal, anti-constitutional ‘regime change’. The document was titled ‘Exposed: Secret regime change plot to destabilise South Africa’. The paper said, ‘The alleged plot is led and facilitated by key leaders within various political organisations, institutes of higher learning, international companies and civic groups, both locally and abroad…Central to the success of this initiative are plans to influence mainly the poor, presenting the so-called ‘socialist philosophy’ and socialism as a fix-it-all solution to problems facing South Africa and its people.’

      Attempts to stymie debates about the promotion of alternative development policies undermine the historical role of the liberation movement in opening debate and promoting alternatives to neo liberalism.

      South Africa’s ruling alliance links the trade union federation, COSATU, with the ANC and the South African Communist Party, and it now faces its greatest challenge since 1994. The largest affiliate to COSATU, (NUMSA) has recently rejected the ANC-led alliance and the party’s economic policy. It refused to campaign for the ANC in national elections earlier this year.

      COSATU has been the most militant working class trade union organisation in Africa but in November COSATU’s Central Executive Committee expelled NUMSA; a move which reflected the bitter factional struggles within the federation. At the end of 2013 NUMSA launched a debate on radical political and economic alternatives for South Africa. Launching the initiative, The Movement for Socialism, NUMSA has explored with other global movements a discussion on a possible socialist project for South Africa. In August 2013 NUMSA hosted a symposium bringing together dozens of African organisations and international left-wing parties. As part of this initiative NUMSA hope to form a United Front.

      Support for NUMSA’s initiative has attracted an input from radical intellectuals and NGOs in South Africa. But this widening support has also led senior figures in the ANC and SACP to condemn NUMSA for ‘counter-revolutionary’ or ‘anti-majoritarian’ activities. Their supporters are denounced as ‘New-Left pseudo revolutionaries’.

      The so-called plotters include former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of former president Thabo Mbeki. Other international ‘conspirators’ from Germany, Venezuela and the Philippines were also named.

      Ronnie Kasrils has already condemned the document and these attacks. He sees this as part of a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign against government opponents and as an attempt to destroy NUMSA. Kasrils argued this behaviour resembled the activities of the apartheid intelligence service.

      Vuyo Lufele, a regional secretary of NUMSA has explained that they are not seeking unconstitutional ‘regime change’, ‘One would have to understand that we are in the class struggle, and ours is to ensure that we are overthrowing neo-liberal policies… The only thing that we hate is the neo-liberal policies, and therefore if people would interpret doing away with neo-liberal policies as to overthrow government it is their choice.’

      The ROAPE EWG condemns the behaviour of those who have launched these most recent attacks. We also express solidarity with those in South Africa who have been named and targeted in recent weeks. With thousands of others, in South Africa and the rest of the continent, ROAPE, in keeping with the journal’s traditions, welcomes all discussions in South Africa that open up debates about radical alternatives to neo-liberalism.

      NEW EDITION: December 2014

      The latest edition of ROAPE is now available on the Taylor and Francis website. VOL 41, ISSUE 142 features articles on Guinea, Sierra Leone, the Great Lakes, Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana that cover topics as widespread as liberal interventionism; mining; chiefs, NGOs and conflict resolution; regulation, tax and violence; education; development planning; mobile phones and market women; and the apparel industry. The briefings and debates section includes analysis of the death of freedom in Angola, the Nation Media Group in Kenya and the South African elections of 2014.


      The Editorial Working Group of ROAPE is pleased to announce the winner of the Ruth First prize for the best article by an African-based author published in ROAPE in 2013 is: "Neoliberal globalisation and evolving local traditional institutions: implications for access to resources in rural northern Ghana" by Joseph A. Yaro. The article appeared in VOL 41, ISSUE 137. The ROAPE Prize Committee commented: “What most impressed us about this article by Joseph Yaro was the way in which it connected neoliberal globalisation with some of the smallest, poorest, most remote villages in northern Ghana. Participatory research in six villages showed that the impact of these policies was not simply marginalising remote areas with the familiar adverse economic consequences but also ‘eroding the moral foundation of rural societies in ways that create unequal access to the resources needed for involvement and inclusion in the market relations of production and social reproduction.’ A few privileged men benefited while the majority, including women, were excluded or dispossessed.”

      NEW READER: Conflict and Security in Africa, October 2013

      More than any other part of the globe, Africa has become associated with conflict, insecurity and human rights atrocities. In the popular imagination and the media, overpopulation, environmental degradation and ethnic hatred dominate accounts of African violence, while in academic and policy-making circles, conflict and insecurity have also come to occupy centre stage, with resource-hungry warlords and notions of 'greed' and 'grievance' playing key explanatory roles. Since the attacks of 9/11, there has also been mounting concern that the continent's so-called 'ungoverned spaces' will provide safe havens for terrorists intent on destroying Western civilization. The Review of African Political Economy has engaged extensively with issues of conflict and security, both analysing on-going conflicts and often challenging predominant modes of explanation and interpretation. This Review of African Political Economy Reader provides a timely, comprehensive and critical contribution to contemporary debates about conflict and security on the continent. The first section, covers some of the continent's main post-Cold War conflicts and demonstrates their global connections. The articles also discuss the so-called 'resource curse', as well as the global arms trade, and reveal the complexities of the relationship between the economic and the political. The second section focuses on security as part of post-Cold War global governance, and discusses the effects of liberal peace-building as well as the link between development assistance and the 'war on terror'. The final section examines life as it continues in conditions of war and shows how insecurity reconfigures urban space, transforms social order, identities and authority. ROAPE readers can be purchased from the website of the publishers Boydell and Brewer, which also provides an interview with the editor, Rita Abrahamsen.



      Vol 32, No. 104/5, June/Sept 2005


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