Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects)


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Kaunda lavishly praised the work of the Israeli experts, and made plans to expand the schemes to other regions of the country. However, these initiatives were never realised because in , in the aftermath of the October War between Israel and its neighbours, Kaunda broke off relations with Israel and ordered the expulsion of its experts within weeks.

The planners and advisors left the Kafubu Block and Kafulafuta with their financial resources and know-how, creating a vacuum of expertise. The local farmers failed to run the cooperatives without Israeli technical assistance, and the projects fell into ruin as debts mounted, funds disappeared, and banks repossessed equipment.

The moshavim plural of moshav schemes in Zambia reflected the strategies and techniques that gave birth to large-scale, state-initiated modernisation initiatives across the continent in the early years of independence Bloom, Miescher, and Manuh 2. These authoritarian initiatives sought — but largely failed — to cast local environments in the image of modernist ideologies, often with catastrophic consequences for local populations. This top-down developmentalist approach has since fallen out of favour; as Bonneuil wrote:.

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Planned-development schemes of the golden age of the develop-mentalist era are now seen as monsters, as mammoth projects that resulted in economic, environmental, and social failures. Bonneuil While recent years have seen patterns of a shift away from top-down development, the legacy of modernist era planning is still present in the communities that once served as its laboratories.

Postcolonial development schemes still resonate for individuals and communities who remained on-site long after the projects themselves ceased to operate, and the legacies of these continue to find expression in local initiatives and aspirations.

This article 1 looks at the ways in which the shadow of past devel-opmentalist promises still looms over the former moshav settlements in the Zambian Copperbelt. As we will show, despite the 45 years that have elapsed, the rise and fall of the moshavim in the Kafubu Block and Kafula-futa continues to preoccupy the communities that inhabit the former schemes — and to resonate in their physical, social, and economic landscapes too. The schemes provide a fundamental and contentious point of reference in both individual and community lives, thus drawing our attention to the long-term consequences of development initiatives.

We seek to make the case for widening the scholarly vision to those communities and individuals who continue to occupy the spaces of former projects. Our aim is to show that a failed development scheme can have a resilient afterlife, one that is shaped both by the project's specific history and also through an ongoing dialogue with political, economic, and social circumstances as they have continued to evolve long after the schemes themselves have been dismantled. The authors would like to thank Louise Bethlehem for helpful critiques of an earlier version of this article.

We also thank the anonymous reviewers and editors of Africa Spectrum for their useful feedback.

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This long-overdue movement reflects mounting evidence of botched efforts, as well as a painful reality on the ground A McKinsey-Devex survey discovered that 64 per cent of donor-funded development projects fail to produce the intended impact for their beneficiaries, while the World Bank admitted that, up until , over 50 per cent of its projects in Africa had failed Hekala ; Lovegrove, Gebre, and Kumar ; Ika, Diallo, and Thuillier But the quest to understand what has gone wrong with international development has unearthed immense complexity and subsequent confusion with regard to the definitions of failure and success, a binary vision that obscures as much as it clarifies Obeng-Odoom Moreover, while development discourse is often cast in teleological terms as an inevitable, unidirectional, and triumphalist progress towards some abstract modernity, in reality the process of socio-economic transformation may oscillate in all directions — and, indeed, is fragile and reversible Ferguson ; Shrestha Jones et al.

Lastly, we must be aware that social, economic, and political landscapes are forever shifting, and carry with them changes that affect the very conceptions of success and failure Kumar and Corbridge Instead of dwelling on clear-cut categories of success and failure, a subtler approach would be to take a broad view of project outcomes so as to include short- and long-term impacts — intended and unintended — as well as their desirability among individual and collective beneficiaries Munns and Bjeirmi ; Ika ; Dvir et al.

Indeed, some projects that were deemed successful have had unintended negative effects, for example on tropical forests Hayter or on the legacy of nomadic ways of life Gronemeyer Thus, much can be gleaned from how local communities experience, respond to, and repurpose the remains of development initiatives long after the project's assessment team has handed in its final report.

Historians have indeed provided vital perspectives on the reasons for failure among colonial and post-colonial development schemes Cooper and Packard Recent contributions draw our attention to the central role of local actors, who influence actual outcomes by exercising agency and organise around their interests while resisting unwanted interventions Van Beusekom and Hodgson As Cooper argues, across Africa, historically, political leadership, trade unionists, communities, and individuals alike engaged actively with the concept of development and seized upon the vision of reform in order to impose their own agendas.

Resilience to Economic Shocks: Reflections from Zambia's Copperbelt

Hunter's work, meanwhile, has shown how public discourse around the concept of development in colonial Tanganyika constantly evolved, revealing an ongoing engagement and questioning of norms and policies associated with it within local society. Histories of development have emphasised complex and contradictory roles therein for local communities who, as Isaacman and Isaacman argue, can be both victims and agents of it. More research is needed to understand how local imaginaries, initiatives, and criticisms play a role in shaping and employing the legacy of schemes long after they have completed their formal lifespan.

Such reflections bear particular consequences for those communities that still occupy the physical and mental spaces of abandoned initiatives, and fall under their long shadow. In what follows, we will see how local residents continue to dialogue with the history of the Zambian moshav schemes — reconciling and repurposing its potent legacies 45 years and more after these projects have been dismantled.

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The ideology reflected a blending of socialist, Christian, and traditional values, and while Kaunda insisted that it was a home-grown philosophy based on traditional modes of thought it in fact shared many similarities to the African socialism that found expression elsewhere on the continent in the postcolonial years. In , under Kaunda's leadership, the Zambian government launched a programme for establishing state-sponsored cooperatives Albinson Thousands seized the opportunity, and by there were registered farming cooperatives — with a total membership of 11, farmers.

Several scholars have critiqued the hasty rolling out of this programme and the massive waste that it engendered Scott ; Bowman ; Macola ; Siddle Most of those who established cooperatives were drawn to the government subsidies and loans being offered, and very few had an actual commitment to socialism or knowledge of running a cooperative Lombard 18; Quick 50— The government, on its part, funnelled immense funds into cooperatives without providing the necessary oversight or supervision Quick 4.

Dumont and Mazoyer The failure of Kaunda's cooperative appeal had far-reaching political implications, ones that resonated beyond the failed schemes themselves Gordon As Larmer and Macola have argued, the failure fomented discontent among the local population — who blamed the government for not delivering on its post-independence promises. This was part of a broader history of Israeli state-led involvement in Africa during the s. Through its national aid agency, MASHAV, Israel hoped to strengthen ties with newly independent states and offset the diplomatic isolation resulting from the Arab—Israeli conflict Oded MASHAV offered a wide array of technical assistance and training programmes to African nations, including schemes in agriculture, irrigation, regional planning, community development, healthcare, and organised youth movements.

Between —, tens of thousands of Africans were trained in MASHAV courses both in Africa and Israel, and over 2, Israeli technical experts were sent to provide assistance in local projects Peters Within the framework of this broader outreach, Israel offered assistance to Kaunda's cooperative initiative. Facing the pending failure of the Chifubu Appeal, Kaunda was eager to benefit from Israel's proven record of success in cooperative development Schler The first group of experts arrived in Lusaka in , and were immediately given control over several struggling settlements situated both outside Lusaka and in the Copperbelt region see Yadin The experts proposed transforming these settlements according to the moshav model, which would require a shift from communal farming to cooperatives based on smallholders.

Farmers and their families would be given individual plots, but the entire settlement would operate as a cooperative union that oversaw equipment, investments, and marketing. This shift, the Israeli advisors argued, would encourage personal initiative among the farmers, who lacked such motivation under the communal system Yadin These changes eventually led to improved outputs in all the settlements, but the projects in the Copperbelt in particular became the centrepiece of Israeli technical expertise.

The Department of Mines and Cooperatives entrusted the Israelis with the task of planning and implementing Kafulafuta, a large-scale settlement block south of the town of Luanshya, and also requested that the Israelis take control over the Ka-fubu Block, an existing settlement scheme that was hastily established by the government in and which suffered from inadequate planning and insufficient investment.

The Kafubu Block's early settlers were drawn from among the unemployed in the nearby mining cities, and came to Kafubu following government promises of resources and training that were ultimately never actually provided Yadin Settlers faced many hardships and struggles as they lacked experience in cooperative farming, and had to contend with poor soil and an inadequate water supply Yadin 4. The Department of Mines and Cooperatives offered little assistance, and by the time the Israelis arrived many of the first settlers had already abandoned the area and the project was near collapse Schwartz and Hare The Israelis immediately restructured the Kafubu Block and took control over marketing and financing, and also began planning Kafulafu-ta.

Both settlements — including the arrangement of villages, homesteads, houses, roads, fields, infrastructure, and communal institutions — were designed using ready-made blueprints from the Lachish regional model, which Israel had implemented at home in the s Schwartz The settlers — peaking in number at about in each scheme — were given individual plots to farm with their families instead of the communal fields. Poultry and dairy sectors were established, new crop varieties were introduced, and cultivation was expanded. These changes began to bear fruits in the second year, as the individual holders started to generate surpluses.

The poultry sector was particularly successful, expanding rapidly to become the showcase project of the entire Kafubu Block Yadin 40— Production was so great that in , the Israelis made an urgent appeal to find consumers for the surplus of six million eggs; this allowed Kaunda to boast that he had fulfilled his post-independence promise to provide each citizen with one egg a day Schwartz The Kafula-futa settlement block experienced similar success and, despite some difficulties with stumping, by thousands of acres were cleared for vegetable cultivation — while pig and poultry farming were also introduced Schwartz Israeli advisors closely supervised the agricultural production at each settlement, controlled the marketing of surpluses, and oversaw the entire financial management of the cooperative unions.

Following a national review of productivity, the government announced plans to reorganise all agricultural cooperatives according to the principles of the smallholder moshav model Quick These settlements are the pride of our nation. If we can duplicate these experiments in all the other districts of Zambia, we will be on our way to establishing a self-sustaining economy.

The Observer Quoted in Amir The Israeli-led projects became the showcase for Kaunda's cooperative initiative, and the Foreign Ministry regularly brought visiting statesmen and dignitaries to see the projects first-hand. However, these plans never actually came to fruition. Following the October War of , Kaunda fell in line with an OAU directive mandating member states to sever ties with Israel Schwartz and Hare 97; for an in-depth examination of why Kaunda abandoned these successful schemes, see Schler Kaunda's decision took the Israelis by complete surprise, and advisors and planners working in the moshav schemes were directed to leave within weeks.

Without Israeli assistance, the moshav farmers were no longer able to secure loans at local banks and also lacked the necessary resources to maintain the expensive equipment required in the poultry and dairy sectors. Soon after the Israelis left, infighting erupted between cooperative members in the scramble for resources. Within a few months equipment was repossessed by the banks, and farmers in both schemes found themselves faced with growing debts and no possibilities for securing investment.

By the end of , both the Kafubu Block and Kafulafuta cooperatives had completely collapsed.

Miles Larmer

Member of Parliament Valentine Cafoya bemoaned the downfall of one of the government's proudest initiatives:. Flourishing farms and gardens have been reduced to arid wilderness, and proud villagers, formerly self-sufficient, are now cutting down timber and destroying valuable natural resources in order to eke out a livelihood. Times of Zambia Thousands of communities in Africa have been the target of development schemes that ultimately failed to meet stated objectives; yet, the long-term significance of project collapse has hitherto not received enough scholarly attention.

The Israel-run moshav schemes in the Cop-perbelt were facilitated as top-down initiatives that succeeded in the short term due largely to Israeli investment and oversight. The quick collapse of the programmes following the dismissal of these experts confirms that after seven years of Israeli assistance the schemes still had not achieved sustainability.

While top-down interventions such as these have been largely dismissed by practitioners and planners, the local communities that remained on-site in the moshavim in the Copperbelt currently articulate a more complex and sympathetic set of narratives around these initiatives. In what follows, we draw on a visit to the Ka-fubu Block and Kafulafuta in September ; we conducted interviews with residents and community leaders, surveyed the physical remains of the former schemes, and participated in community meetings and events. Our findings reveal that while the moshav schemes collapsed some four decades earlier, their presence lingers on in the physical space, collective memory, and in current economic and social initiatives too.

We will examine the various ways in which the legacy of the moshavim still finds expression, and suggest the reasons why the short-lived, unsustained initiatives still resonate among the communities of the Kafubu Block and Kafulafuta. According to the original planning of both Kafulafuta and Kafubu Block, settlers were grouped into three villages consisting of homesteads arranged into equal-sized plots upon which uniform housing was built. Houses were set slightly off from the road, and fruit trees were planted around them. Each homestead consisted of two acres that were to be used for vegetable farming, and on the outskirts of the village each family was allocated a second, larger plot for additional agricultural production.

Villages were grouped as satellites around a regional service centre that was comprised of cooperative offices, supply and other stores, maintenance and equipment sheds, health centres, educational institutions, a community centre, sports facilities, and a bus stop.


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Plans mandated that no house should be more than 0. Today, despite the passage of time, the spatial layout and built environment of both the Kafubu Block and Kafulafuta are still replete with evidence of Israeli planning. Houses built according to specifications mandated by the original plan are still in use, although extensions have been added on to some.

In the conclusion, we bring these strands together to theorise the role of Swiss companies in the global partition of labour. Our interest not in mining alone but in copper's entire production network is one of the few things we share with Glencore, the best-known Swiss company active in Zambia's copper sector. Glencore started out as a commodity trader, but has by now become an integrated multinational commodity firm. One major step in this direction has been its investment in copper mines in Zambia and the DRC since Glencore's decision to buy mines in Zambia was anticyclical and, in retrospect, came at the best possible moment for the company.

Zambia has had a long history of commercial copper extraction. In , five years after independence, the Zambian government nationalised the country's copper mines. In , in response to a long depression in copper prices beginning in the mids, the two state-owned mining enterprises were amalgamated to create Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Limited ZCCM.

ZCCM's main shareholders were the Zambian government with The consolidation could not stop the sector's decline.

In an environment of global liberalisation and deregulation, increasing external debts and lack of revenue forced President Kaunda to give in to pressure by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other lenders to privatise the mines and other state assets Simutanyi ; Craig In , the Zambian government began unbundling ZCCM into asset packages and selling those to various investors, while maintaining a minority interest in each new company.

Due to the global price slump of the s, it took until before all assets were privatised, after years of hard negotiations, low bids and increased debt.

Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects) Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects)
Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects) Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects)
Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects) Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects)
Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects) Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects)
Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects) Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects)
Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects) Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects)

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