Academic journal article African Studies Review

Ending Autocracy, Enabling Democracy: The Tribulations of Southern Africa 1960-2000

Academic journal article African Studies Review

Ending Autocracy, Enabling Democracy: The Tribulations of Southern Africa 1960-2000

Article excerpt

Robert I. Rotberg. Ending Autocracy, Enabling Democracy: The Tribulations of Southern Africa 1960-2000. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution Press, 2002. 546 pp. Map. Index. $22.95. Paper.

Ending Autocracy, Enabling Democracy is not an academic study, but rather an anthology, consisting of 166 of the author's 229 "opinion pieces" published in fifteen different newspapers and weeklies between 1960 and 2000. It is valuable insofar as it documents the evolution of an informed Africanist's observations over four decades. The essays concern political development in Central and Southern Africa and cover topics such as political repression, the apartheid and postapartheid South African regimes, military coups, severe economic decline, and internal wars, as well as how these events were affected by the cold war and post-cold war reactions. Although the majority of the selections date from the last two decades- and were published mainly in the Chnstian Science Monitor, for which Rotberg writes regularly-this informed survey is a highly readable and informative anti-dote to the sensationalist and often misinformed news reporting about Africa.

The book consists of three parts, each of which includes retrospective interpretations of the initial opinion pieces. Part 1 deals with Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, and Namibia during the period 1962-2000. Readers will be especially interested in Rotberg's analysis of Rhodesia's transition to an independent Zimbabwe, and his tracking of President Robert Mugabe's behavior, from his successes in "charting a stable course for his country" in 1984 to his gradual repressiveness, authoritarianism, corruption, and electoral defeat in 2000. Part 2 focuses on South Africa from 1972 to 1999. Representing some of the earliest journalistic comments on the realities of separate development, these essays earned Rotberg the status of Prohibited Immigrant from 1972 to 1976. The essays offer incisive commentary on the importance of corporate social responsibility, the hazards of the Homeland policy, the socioeconomic needs of all races, the governance styles of P. W. Botha and F. W. de Klerk, the shortcomings of U. …

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