Zimbabwe's post-colonial antinomies as the 'northern problem': Policy projections

B. Mhlanga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Zimbabwe, like many other post-colonial African states, has a ‘northern problem’. As a metaphor, the concept of ‘northern problem’ refers to the disgruntled groups in a state claiming a particular history and identity that differ from those of the dominant ‘other’. The metaphor does not necessarily imply that these forms of disenchantment and their fissures are found in the northern parts of every African nation-state. Rather, certain groups in a state may not consider themselves to be citizens and also hold the view of state boundaries as fictitious. Matebeleland, in Zimbabwe, serves as an example, with calls for devolution of power or a form of irredentist secessionist bid. The ‘northern problem’ results from feelings of being dominated, excluded and marginalised in terms of national resource distribution and leadership (power as a resource) arrangements. This article will project into the future challenges that may be faced given the region of Matebeleland as a political hotbed in Zimbabwe and the possibility of violent conflict if their concerns are not addressed. It will also attempt to provide a detailed engagement of the devolution of power conceptualised as part of administrative decentralisation. I conclude by arguing that if the devolution of power is properly implemented, starting with inclusion in the Zimbabwean constitution, the challenge of Matebeleland as a ‘northern problem’ may cease to pose a threat that is likely to fan secessionist calls
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-113
Number of pages10
JournalAfrican Security Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


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