Until recently, southern Africa’s political and economic outlook seemed to be moving in a promising direction. The highlights were provided by Zimbabwe and SA with the displacement of Robert Mugabe by Emmerson Mnangagwa in November 2017 and Jacob Zuma by Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year. Both were to pronounce the inauguration of new eras for their countries, and to promise political and economic reform. Prior to this, there were presidential changes in the three other countries ruled by the region’s liberation movements. Hage Geingob succeeded Hifikepunye Pohamba in Namibia in March 2015; Filipe Nyusi succeeded Armando Guebuza in Mozambique in January 2017; and Joao Lourenco succeeded Eduardo Dos Santos as Angola’s state president after legislative elections last year. All five new leaders were younger than their predecessors, three of them (Ramaphosa, Nyusi and Lourenco) by 10 years or more. This diluted — but far from dissipated — the tendency towards gerontocracy. And there was...

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