The plundering of Zambian resources by Frederick Chiluba and his friends: a case study of the interaction between national politics and the international drive towards good governance

This article analyses the accusations that have emerged in Zambia since 2001 of predatory behaviour during the presidency of Frederick T. Chiluba (1991-2001). It advocates a detailed analysis of the practices that have come to light during the Chiluba trials in order to move beyond a generalized interpretation of the persistence of predatory elites in Africa. Three specific themes appear. First, there is a danger of oversimplification of these conflicts as between the international community and national governments. The political struggles tend to be more complicated than generally presented, and international involvement meshes with local political struggles. Second, predatory behaviour or corruption is a social process that is embedded in wider national and international networks. It is therefore difficult to locate culpability exactly in clearly designated protagonists. Third, there is a danger of imputing an economic and political rationality to this behaviour which may best be designated as theft. The overall theme of the article is that there are important national cultural influences in the way these predatory practices are dealt with. These are obfuscated by a blander critique identifying partial reform that leaves predatory elites untouched. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]

Title: The plundering of Zambian resources by Frederick Chiluba and his friends: a case study of the interaction between national politics and the international drive towards good governance
Author: Donge, Jan Kees van
Year: 2009
Periodical: African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society
Volume: 108
Issue: 430
Pages: 69-90
Language: English
Geographic term: Zambia
About person: Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba (1943-)
External link: http://ejournals.ebsco.com/direct.asp?ArticleID=4A53B890DB548AFC680B
Abstract: This article analyses the accusations that have emerged in Zambia since 2001 of predatory behaviour during the presidency of Frederick T. Chiluba (1991-2001). It advocates a detailed analysis of the practices that have come to light during the Chiluba trials in order to move beyond a generalized interpretation of the persistence of predatory elites in Africa. Three specific themes appear. First, there is a danger of oversimplification of these conflicts as between the international community and national governments. The political struggles tend to be more complicated than generally presented, and international involvement meshes with local political struggles. Second, predatory behaviour or corruption is a social process that is embedded in wider national and international networks. It is therefore difficult to locate culpability exactly in clearly designated protagonists. Third, there is a danger of imputing an economic and political rationality to this behaviour which may best be designated as theft. The overall theme of the article is that there are important national cultural influences in the way these predatory practices are dealt with. These are obfuscated by a blander critique identifying partial reform that leaves predatory elites untouched. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]