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Comparative Analysis Of Economic And Political Cleavages In South Africa And Zimbabwe

2346 words - 9 pages

Comparative Analysis of Economic and Political Cleavages in South Africa and Zimbabwe


Comparative politics is concerned with examining the characteristics or qualities of two different political entities to discover resemblances or differences. These entities can be general in nature, for example, the comparison of two countries, or more specific in nature, comparing two different systems of government. But, whether general or specific in nature, comparative politics tries to determine what caused the governments to form in the way that they did.

One way to do this is to look for the cleavages that affected each of the countries in question. A cleavage is a split that occurs within a culture and can cause conflict Cleavages can be in the form of :

Economic divisions between two or more groups based on financial considerations.
Ethnic divisions between two or more groups based on cultural beliefs.
Political divisions between two or more parties involving conflicting ideologies.
Racial divisions between two or more races.
Regional divisions between two or more groups based on geographical concerns.
Religious divisions between two or more religious groups with differing beliefs.

This paper intends to demonstrate that the comparative method may be used to better understand the socioeconomic and political cleavages within two specific countries, and that this study may lead to a clearer understanding of the issues within the chosen countries that are causing those divisions. The countries that will be examined in this brief study of cleavages are Zimbabwe and the Republic of South Africa.

It is hoped that by examining specific socioeconomic cleavages of the two countries in this paper that the far-reaching effects of overriding economic concerns in each country will be illustrated. This brief discussion will cover such areas as land reform and the impact of political decision-making on landowners and non-landowners in a historically agrarian and ranked society and on race, substandard housing, unemployment, and unequal allocation of funding for public health.

Land Reform

Historically, land reform programs in South Africa and Zimbabwe has been similar in some respects. It is necessary to briefly review the history of each country in respect to this cleavage to better understand current discontinuities and to note the clear differences in contemporary land reform that are being implemented in the two countries.

Both South Africa and Zimbabwe were British colonies. All the land in these colonies was
owned by white Europeans and farmed by poor black Africans. In 1980, Rhodesia broke from the bondage of white rule and elected its first black president, Robert Mugabe, who came with promises of restoration of the land to native Africans, and of better health care and educational opportunities. The now independent Rhodesia was renamed Zimbabwe in 1980.

But during the 1980's,...

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