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Power Politics in Zimbabwe

Michael Bratton
Power Politics in Zimbabwe
ISBN: 978-1-62637-076-0
ISBN: 978-1-62637-388-4
ISBN: 978-1-62637-525-3
2014/281 pages/LC: 2012278207
Also of interest: Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land by Joseph Hanlon, Jeannette Manjengwa, and Teresa Smart
"Arguably the most nuanced, theoretically grounded and comprehensive study of the underlying causes of the failure of Zimbabwe's power-sharing settlement.... Bratton's comparative approach to Zimbabwe's power-sharing experience makes his book a must-read for all students seeking to better understand the role of political settlements in political transitions not only in Zimbabwe, but in other parts of Africa."—Tapiwa B. Zimudzi, Democratization

"Compelling, thoroughly researched, and immensely informative.... Power Politics will also generate a great deal of discussion among Zimbabwe specialists as they confront the lessons and implications of Bratton's provocative analysis."—Ngonidzashe Munemo, Perspectives on Politics

"A powerful and deeply personal book about Zimbabwean politics that also yields considerable comparative insights for students of democracy in other parts of Africa.... Bratton has offered us an instant classic of Zimbabwe studies, with implications reaching well beyond the borders of that troubled place."—Pierre Englebert, Journal of Democracy

"Thoughtful, well-written, and persuasive, this has to be the preeminent book on contemporary Zimbabwe. Highly recommended."—Choice

"Bratton pulls no punches in this dual critique of Africa's recent "power-sharing governments" and of the ways political scientists tend to normalize government of national unity (GNU) elections as effective ways to transition from authoritarianism.... His teachable book explores the successes and failures of the GNU model while detailing how Zimbabwe's ruling elites and securocrats resurrected authoritarian rule from the GNU of 2009-2013."—Tim Scarnecchia, Kent State University


Choice Outstanding Academic Book!

Zimbabwe's July 2013 election brought the country's "inclusive" power-sharing interlude to an end and installed Mugabe and ZANU-PF for yet another—its seventh—term. Why? What explains the resilience of authoritarian rule in Zimbabwe?

Tracing the country's elusive search for political stability across the decades, Michael Bratton offers a careful analysis of the failed power-sharing experiment, an account of its institutional origins, and an explanation of its demise. In the process, he explores key challenges of political transition: constitution making, elections, security-sector reform, and transitional justice.


Michael Bratton is University Distinguished Professor of political science and African studies at Michigan State University. His numerous publications include, most recently, Voting and Democratic Citizenship in Africa and Public Opinion, Democracy, and Market Reform in Africa (with Robert Mattes and E. Gyimah-Boadi).


  • Power Politics.
  • Political Settlements.
  • The Colonial Political Settlement.
  • The Independence Political Settlement.
  • A Period of Crisis, 2000-2008.
  • African Experiences with Power Sharing.
  • Zimbabwe's Power-Sharing Experiment, 2008-2013.
  • Rewriting the Constitution.
  • Improving Electoral Conduct?
  • Approaching Security-Sector Reform.
  • Tackling Transitional Justice.
  • Reflections on Theory and Policy.
No rights in southern Africa.