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Is Zimbabwe a Failed State?

Is Zimbabwe a Failed State?



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Published by Ben Turner
Straight-forward question... Final question for my African development class.
Straight-forward question... Final question for my African development class.

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Published by: Ben Turner on Dec 11, 2008


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 Victor Ben TurnerINAF-45010 Dec. 08Zimbabwe: A Failed State?
Is Zimbabwe a failed state? I will argue that it clearly is, explain why, andthen very briefly present some reasons why it might not be considered as such.But first, one must define what a "failed state" is. There are four readily available definitions for the term, from Max Weber, the Crisis States ResearchCentre, Paul Collier (development economist), and the Fund for Peace.
The Max Weber Definition
Max Weber defined a successful state as one that has a monopoly on thelegitimate use of violence, in his work 
 Politics as a Vocation
, published in 1919.
The CSRC Definition
The Crisis States Research Centre has conducted one stage of research andis currently in its second; it has differentiated between "fragile", "crisis", and"failed" states. CSRC's definition for a failed state states,
"We define a “failed state” as a condition of “state collapse” – e.g., a statethat can no longer perform its basic security, and development functions and thathas no effective control over its territory and borders. A failed state is one thatcan no longer reproduce the conditions for its own existence. This term is used in very contradictory ways in the policy community (for instance, there is atendency to label a “poorly performing” state as “failed” – a tendency we reject).The opposite of a “failed state” is an “enduring state” and the absolute dividingline between these two conditions is difficult to ascertain at the margins. Even ina failed state, some elements of the state, such as local state organisations, mightcontinue to exist."
The CSRC contrasts the failed state with an enduring state, a crisis state with a resilient state, and a fragile state with a stable state. The key distinctions between the three are that fragile states have institutions that are put underchronic stress, a crisis state is currently being severely tested by a crisis such as AIDS/HIV or by a political challenge, and a failed state has collapsed at many of its important levels.
The Paul Collier Definition
Crisis States Research Centre, “Crisis, Fragile and Failed StatesDefinitions used by the CSRC”. Crisisstates.com,http://www.crisisstates.com/download/drc/FailedState.pdf 
Collier classifies states under statistically-based buckets as he is workingfrom an economic point of view seeking to isolate key factors using statisticalregressions, to make development more impactful. Collier says in his muchlauded and discussed book,
The Bottom Billion
“For want of a better term I will call those low-income countries that are below the cutoff for governance and economic policies "failing states." This is thesort of popular and emotive term that I do not usually like to use, but in this caseI think it has some rationale. Such states are failing in two senses. Most directly,they are failing their citizens. Populations in most of the low-income world livein countries that are growing rapidly, whereas these countries are stagnating.”
Getting the definition right is nevertheless tricky. Not all low-incomestates that fall below our cutoff have been failing states. For a number of countries, the rating crashed and then rapidly rebounded as policies changedrelatively rapidly. Such temporary crashes are not of interest to us. It is surelmuch easier to restore a country to reasonable policies if it has only justabandoned them than if it has been stuck with bad policies for a long time.Indeed, the temporary crashes we observe in the data may sometimes be spuriousassessments that are subsequently reversed. We therefore only count the country as a failing state if the rating has stayed low for a continuous period of four years.These criteria give us lists of states that can be classified as failing, year by  year. To show you what they mean in practice, recent failing states include Angola, the Central African Republic, Haiti, Liberia, Sudan, the Solomon Islands,Somalia, and Zimbabwe. It would surely be difficult to argue with any of theseassessments. The Democratic Republic of the Congo hovers around the borderline. If this is the borderline, you know that the cutoff is low. More thanthree-quarters of the population of the bottom billion live in countries that haveat some time been failing states by this definition.Collier sees his classification as being extremely generous and notinclusive of countries not belonging to the infamous category of failed states.Collier also discusses in
The Bottom Billion
that there are significant aid andfunding problems with taking "failed state" status lightly; if a country is labeled asa failed state in the midst of a recovery, it will not attract outside foreign directinvestment or foreign aid donor money until after another year of results, so acountry may get caught in the lag of budgets and rankings.
The Fund for Peace and the Failed States Index, Published in ForeignPolicy Magazine
The Failed State Index ranks countries based on twelve indicators, brokenup into the three categories of social, economic, and political:
Collier, Paul, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done AboutIt. Oxford University Press, USA, 27 Apr. 07. p.68.
 Social Indicators
Mounting Demographic Pressures
Massive Movement of Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons creating ComplexHumanitarian Emergencies
Legacy of Vengeance-Seeking Group Grievance or Group Paranoia
Chronic and Sustained Human Flight
 Economic Indicators
Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines
Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline
 Political Indicators
Criminalization and/or Delegitimization of the State
Progressive Deterioration of Public Services
Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the Rule of Law and Widespread Violation of Human Rights
Security Apparatus Operates as a "State Within a State"
Rise of Factionalized Elites
Intervention of Other States or External Political Actors
This is a transparent, easy to quantify way to rank countries. Each country gets a numerical ranking from 1.0 to 10.0 and then each indicator is added upand averaged to get the total score.
Background on Recent Zimbabwe Events
Zimbabwe currently barely shudders beneath the vicious, violent, andoppressive regime of Robert Mugabe, a "big man" whose presence has defined thenation and the region of southern Africa. Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe AfricanNational Union-Patriotic Front, has won every election since Zimbabwe becameindependent. Mugabe has amended the Constitution to become president, andhas attempted to rig elections, extend his term limits, and kill or threaten hispolitical opponents. Still, Mugabe almost lost the most recent election to MorganTsvangirai and was forced to enter a nominal power-sharing agreement in whichhe still maintained his security apparatus, all that matters in Zimbabwe at thispoint in time. In 2007, Mugabe's security forces went after journalists coveringhis corrupt regime and were it not for brave journalists who snuck video camerasand recorders in, much of the internal intimidation and violence undertaken would not have been reported to the outside world.
 At the same time, Mugabe's government has gone bankrupt as white-collarprofessionals, refugees, and business have fled the country as quickly as possible while he must still pay his military and police men. Zimbabwe is undergoing
Fund for Peace, “Failed States Index”. Fundforpeace.org, 2008,
UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs, “Zimbabwe: Journalists Feel the Heat”.Allafrica.com, 20 Jun. 08,

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