The primacy of regime survival

State fragility and economic destruction in Zimbabwe

Mark Simpson & Tony Hawkins



This book analyses the past and ongoing decline of Zimbabwe under the rule of ZANU-PF, with a primary focus on the period 1997 to the present. In contrast to much existing literature on post-independence Zimbabwe which has focused on the political dimensions of Zimbabwe’s fragility, this research highlights the economic aspects of Zimbabwe’s regression flowing from prolonged mismanagement of the economy which has served to consolidate the rule of the country’s political and economic elite. The Zimbabwean experience offers unique insights into the economic mensions of regime preservation. This book situates the Zimbabwe experience within the context of wider debates within the field of development studies, and the international community’s response to such situations.


If you want an authoritative, dispassionate and forensic analysis of Zimbabwe’s catastrophic economic decline, set in political context, go straight for this definitive work by Hawkins and Simpson. Their exposure of the way the country’s ruling Zanu-PF party turned a oncethriving economy into a milch cow for an elite, whilst systematically subjugating dissent and enforcing an increasingly despotic regime, makes for an engrossing read. - Michael Holman


Mark Simpson is Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study of the University of London, UK.

Tony Hawkins is former Professor of Economics at the Graduate School of Business, University of Zimbabwe. He is a consultant for an international bank, and one of the two lead authors of the SADC Industrialization Strategy (2015).