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In a powerful defence of Marxist political economy John Saul argues that ‘facing down the hulk of capital that presently bestrides the world was never going to be easy.’ Though as ‘powerful and ill-intentioned as capitalists’ might be ‘as they destroy the world, environmentally and morally’, everything, in Africa and elsewhere, continues to depend on the struggle of the oppressed. In this contribution he blends his on-going work on Africa with a more general analytical and theoretical consideration on progressive political economy. The fruitfulness of this approach is exemplified in his forthcoming book, Revolutionary Hope vs Free-Market Fantasies: Towards the Revival of Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa (to appear in 2019). There readers can see a more elaborated model of the method of both learning and communicating – in exploring the juxtaposition between theory on the one hand and ‘practice’, in the chapters 'southern Africa...

In a major contribution to roape.net, Zsuzsánna Biedermann analyses the complex reasons behind the largely fruitless diversification efforts in Botswana. Many African countries abundant in non-renewable natural resources experience the harmful effects associated with the extensive role oil, mining or gas extraction plays in their economies. Even if Botswana’s initial development based on diamond mining was spectacular, there is mounting proof that the Botswana Democratic Party - the country’s governing party since independence – has been deeply intertwined with the De Beers diamond mining cartel. Development, industrialisation and diversification remains a frustrating and elusive goal for the country....

On the anniversary of Steve Biko’s murder, ROAPE’s Remi Adekoya speaks to South African scholar and activist Mosa Phadi. Phadi reflects on the legacy of Biko’s radical and important thought, but also discusses how he did not consider cohesive alternatives that could now serve as a counter to neoliberal ideas. In a wide-ranging interview Phadi also looks at the political and economic crisis in South Africa, the Economic Freedom Fighters, the failures of the ANC and the possibilities of a solution in the militancy and consciousness of working-class struggle....

In a major critique of dependency theory, Esteban Mora continues the debate on the nature of imperialism on roape.net (and specifically the blogpost by Walter Daum). He argues that while inequalities and unevenness in the world market exists, with both strong nation-states and weaker ones, this is not a division based on countries or regions, nor geography or ethnicity, but on relations of production. We must unearth the mechanisms of mutual profiting across all regions to see a class divided world market, as part of an international system of states where every single state is an agent of financial capital....

In important new research on Egypt, Marion Dixon explains that the corporate food system in the country has involved Egyptians across classes buying into the neoliberal project. The space of dietary convergence provided a social consensus that legitimized the neoliberal project, at least temporarily. Yet, its fundamental failure was that the growth of corporate food did little to reduce food costs as a percentage of income for the vast majority of Egyptians....

David Seddon reviews the extraordinary events in Zimbabwe, which saw the end of Mugabe's 37 year rule. Ordinary people of Zimbabwe, who have experienced decades of repression and hardship, are rejoicing and are optimistic, but very soon, Seddon argues, there must be a renewed, popular struggle for the future of Zimbabwe....

Heike Becker writes about the recent European Conference on African Studies (ECAS) in Basel, Switzerland, the 7th of the now well-established bi-annual gatherings of the European African Studies network AEGIS. Becker observes that epistemological queries were key to the conference, with important questions raised about how knowledge of the continent is produced. ...

For too long growth has not been seen for what it is: an ideology invented to defend capitalism. In this blog Franklin Obeng-Odoom looks at the consequences for Africa of this deception. He argues that economics has attained its imperial status not because of strong and rigorous methodology or even its better use of data, but, largely, because it serves an ideological role. It is this ideology that sustains the position of ‘economic science’....

ROAPE's Hannah Cross introduces the new special issue on women, which deepens our understanding of women’s mobilisations in Africa and elsewhere. It also urges attention to gender relations in the analysis of contestations over land, labour, political rights and other forms of protest....