Following the neopatrimonialism paradigm, it can be hypothesised that in African states informal politics of the rulers infringe on the collection of taxes and in turn reduce state revenues. This article tests this proposition for the case of Zambia. The main finding is that there is no linear correlation between a neopatrimonial system and the collection of taxes.
Neopatrimonial continuity in the country is evidenced by three factors; the concentration of political power, the award of personal favours and the misuse of state resources. Despite this continuity, the revenue performance has increased considerably with the creation of the semi-autonomous Zambia Revenue Authority. This demonstrates that the effect of neopatrimonialism on public policy in the African state is highly context-specific and dependent on the interaction with additional variables. Donor pressure has been the most important in the Zambian case. In order to apply neopatrimonialism for further empirical work on public policy in the African state, these additional variables have to be incorporated into the analysis.