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Southern Africa, popular resistance to neoliberalism, 1982–2007

Patrick Bond


Southern Africa–defined here as Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe–is arguably the world's most unequal region. Characterized by a bitter colonial history, uneven development, and a series of wars shaped by the Cold War context, and generally dominated by South Africa, the region was affected by neoliberal policies from the 1980s. These pitted the ruling elites, often with national liberation backgrounds, against the mass of citizenry, who have resisted in various ways, ranging from fighting for access to health care and water, to pro-democracy struggles, to strikes, to revived center-left and left social movements. While the Bretton Woods institutions, the great powers, and the multinational corporations played an important role in applying neoliberalism to the region, the ruling blocs in the region's most unequal countries–e.g., those with more than a 0.5 Gini coefficient ranking of income inequality during the early 2000s (Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe) ( World Bank 2005 : 39)–ensured that local alliances could be built in support of neoliberal policies. South Africa, with nearly 50 million of the region's 115 million residents, about 80 percent of regional gross domestic product ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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