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.


      CONFERENCE - Southern Africa Beyond the West: Political, Economic & Cultural Relationships with the BRICS & the Global South

      7-11 August 2015, Livingstone, Zambia

      Co-sponsors: JSAS (Journal of Southern African Studies) and the Southern African Institute for Policy and Research (SAIPAR, Lusaka, Zambia); Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE).

      The primary aim of the conference will be to consider Southern Africa’s place in a future world in which the influence of Western powers is in relative decline. To this end it will focus on social, political and cultural aspects of the region’s relationships with other regions, including the Lusophone world, China, India, Russia and their spheres of influence, as well as examples of South-South linkages, recognising at the outset that what are presented as new linkages have a long history.

      Venue: Livingstone, Zambia. More information:

      Open letter to the press on the murder of Gilles Cistac in Maputo, Mozambique, on 3 March 2015

      “the enemies of a people are those who keep them in ignorance” Thomas Sankara

      We condemn the death threats against Mozambican intellectuals, which culminated in the murder of Gilles Cistac in Maputo on 3 March 2015. Gilles Cistac, 54 years old, was a Mozambican constitutional lawyer at Maputo’s Eduardo Mondlane University. He was shot dead outside a city centre café by an unidentified armed group. His assassination was preceded by a social media hate campaign against him, for which he had submitted a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office.

      Cistac’s name was the first on a list of Mozambican intellectuals targeted by an unspecified group of militants. This death list was made public through a sinister operation via Facebook messages. It reports the names of academics and journalists with different political identities and positions. This ill-identifiable group of fanatics seems determined to close off political space for opposition parties and groups. This death list includes the names of neoliberals, Marxists and moderates like Gilles Cistac. As such, it constitutes more a ‘defence’ of narrow factionalism and petty political interests than any specific alternative political positioning.

      This places Cistac’s assassination in a long list including Samora Machel, the anti-corruption journalist Carlos Cardoso, António Siba-Siba Macuácua, and Dinis Silica. Cistac’s proposal for open debate was an attempt to resolve a current constitutional impasse. RENAMO unexpectedly did reasonably well in the elections of October 2014, and so might once again been seen as threatening the current status quo.

      The group behind this are alleged to be ill-educated, unemployed young people manipulated by those seeking to defend their political and economic interests. They are not merely trolls on social media, but thugs and assassins.

      Cistac’s name was the first on this list. We express our worry as the targeted intellectuals have not been offered any kind of personal protection or security measures.

      We condemn the defamation campaign staged through Facebook by a group of young Mozambican extremists with fascist undertones: the unfounded accusations against Cistac ranged from racial issues and sexual orientation to allegations of working for foreign secret services. This disgraceful discourse signals the deterioration of the intellectual climate in the country.

      Cistac was only one of many intellectuals who continue to take controversial positions that open up space for democratic debate. He was prominent in public discussions over constitutional issues in Mozambique and had served on several public boards as an expert of constitutional matters. Hence his murder is connected to the role he was playing in a debate over the devolution of powers to the provinces (Mediafax no. 5757, 6 March 2015). The debate was marked by arrogant and undemocratic ways of specific factions and interests within the ruling party, which are striving to impose their view on national unity. On March 7, demonstrations were held in Maputo and Beira to show solidarity and protest against this ruthless act of political violence. The Mozambican Catholic Church has expressed concern over the unabated process of capital accumulation and land grabs perpetrated by the Mozambican elites against the interests of an increasingly impoverished and vulnerable population (Canalmoz 1410, 9 March 2015: ‘Arrogance, Intolerance and Corruption: The mark of the regime’).

      We write in solidarity with all the Mozambicans who daringly demonstrated against this ruthless act of political violence. We express our deepest concern on the potential consequences of impunity for Cistac’s killers and their instigators. Impunity will send a message of tolerance on political violence against intellectuals. If unchallenged, threats, murder and fear will increase, which would kill the rigour and integrity with which interested citizens provide essential oversight of their governments.

      Our question to the murderers is: who is the enemy in Mozambique today?

      Gabrielle Lynch, Chair of the Review of African Political Economy editorial working group And 21 members of the Review of African Political Economy editorial working group

      Gilles Cistac, constitutional law professor at Maputo’s Eduardo Mondlane University, was killed on March 3 2015 in Maputo. He is survived by his daughter Rosimele, 17.


      The latest edition of ROAPE is now available on the Taylor and Francis website. Edited by Reg Cline-Cole, VOL 42, ISSUE 144 features a range of articles on 'territorialising power', including analysis of Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria, as well as an obituary for former Editorial Working Group member Pepe Roberts and a debate piece by David Moore intriguingly entitled 'Five funerals, no weddings, a couple of birthdays: Terry Ranger, his contemporaries, and the end of Zimbabwean nationalism – 24 October 2013–3 January 2015'.

      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.



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


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