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IAD Occasional Paper Series

Democracy and Modernity in Southern Africa

The IAD Occasional Paper Series is a biannual publication of multi-disciplinary, policy-oriented articles in all fields of African studies relevant to development. All manuscripts are reviewed by peers on the basis of scholarship, extent of original research, rigor of analysis, and significance of the conclusions as well as scholarship relevance to issues affecting Africa.

Recent Titles


No. 17. Democracy and Modernity in Southern Africa: Development or Deformity?

Michael H. Allen

No. 16. The African Community in China in the Age of Renewed China-Africa Cooperation 

Mamoudou Gazibo and Olga Alexeeva


No. 15. U.S.-Africa Relations in the Age of Obama

Thomas Kwasi Tieku

No. 14. Japan-African Relations: Applying the Asian Development Experience to Sub-Saharan Africa

Bertha Z. Osei-Hwedie and Kwaku Osei-Hwedie

No. 13. Sexual Violence in Eastern DRC: Obstacles to Prosecution

Joanna Mansfield

No. 12. The Role of Chiefs in African Justice

Keshav C. Sharma

No. 11. Negotiating Identities: African Women in Alberta

Denise L. Spitzer

No. 10. Africa: Self-Inflicted Impoverishment?

Assis Malaquias

Earlier papers are listed below. Papers are priced at US$10 each unless otherwise noted.

No. 9. Literary Perspectives on Governance in Contemporary Africa

Chima Anyadike

Spring 2006/ 19 pages ISBN 0-9758562-0-0 This monograph shares impressions the author has formed of governance in Africa through the reading and teaching of African writers. The literary works of three African novelists—Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Ayi Kwei Armah—form the primary basis of the paper. Each takes a different perspective, but the thrust of the argument is that these writers are ultimately in search of governance models that derive from a view of Africa not as being far behind in a queue, waiting to benefit from the benevolence of donors and foreign investors, but as a place on a revolving sphere from which major activating forces of development have been temporarily diverted. The hope that drives them is that the sphere is undergoing rehabilitation and inner transformation, influenced by their works. This sphere is headed towards the formation of a critical mass that will inspire and galvanize a truly African renaissance under the guidance of purposeful and inner-directed governance.

No. 8. The Legality and Legitimacy of Constitution-Making: the East African Experience

Issa Shiviji

Fall 2005/ 20 pages ISBN 0-9758562-9-4 The paper examines the processes of constitution-making in East Africa, the different forms of constitutions, and the historical, economic, and social forces that helped shape them into their current manifestations. The author looks at three “generations” of constitutions: first, the independence constitutions formed as countries emerged from colonialism; second, post-colonial constitutions formulated during the three decades of restructuring; and finally, post-Cold War constitutions formed in the era of globalization.

No. 7. Public Mental Health Care and Public Policy in Kenya: A Case Study

Pauline E. Ginsberg

Spring 2005/ 33 pages ISBN 0-9758562-8-6 This monograph traces Kenya’s public sector interest in psychiatry and mental health services from their establishment during the colonial period, through their high point in the late 1980s and early 1990s, to their decline around 2002. By that time Kenya’s fragile economy, together with the AIDS crisis, had undone much of the work of the previous decade. The data come not only from print sources, but also from a questionnaire survey, site visits and interviews completed in Kenya in 1989-1990, and interviews completed in 2002. Pauline Ginsberg is Professor of Psychology at Utica College.

No. 6. Competitiveness and Private Sector Development in Africa: Cross-Country Evidence from the World Bank's Climate Investment Climate Data

Vijaya Ramachandran and Benn Eifert

Fall 2004/ 55 pages ISBN 0-9758562-7-8 Investment Climate Survey data are now available for several member countries of the World Bank, including eight in sub-Saharan Africa. These reports and the surveys that underpin them have generated very large quantities of data on many dimensions of the business environment. This paper is an attempt to synthesize some of the key, commonly available indicators in a comparative framework, focusing on Africa and using countries such as China, India, Morocco and Bolivia as international reference points. From indicators in the areas of macroeconomic stability, finance, market structure, infrastructure, skills, customs procedures, labor regulations, business regulations, corruption, and security, it is evident that most African business environments still have serious shortcomings compared with their international competitors. Although more analysis is needed to quantify the impact of different dimensions of the business environment on firm-level productivity, in some cases the direct costs of poor business environments to firms are quantifiable, and the results are striking. The results suggest that improved competitiveness in Africa will require lower costs of doing business and higher productivity, not lower real wages, which are not the main obstacle.

No. 5. Portuguese Colonial Intervention, Regional Conflict, and Post-Colonial Amnesia: Cahora Bassa Dam, Mozambique 1965-2002

Allen Issacman and Chris Sneddon

Spring 2004/ 36 pages ISBN 0-9758562-1-9 This paper examines the history of Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique and how the project became and continues to be a focal point of regional conflict. The dam’s conception and construction were deeply linked to the Portuguese colonial state’s concerns over security and military operations against revolutionary forces. In the post-independence period, the dam and its transmission lines became important targets for apartheid South Africa’s campaign to destabilize the FRELIMO regime. FRELIMO, in turn, sought to domesticate the “white elephant” of Cahora Bassa for its own developmental purposes. Most recently, Cahora Bassa has become the center of a geopolitical struggle among Mozambique, Portugal and South Africa over control of the dam’s hydroelectricity. The Mozambican government’s desire to construct a new dam, Mphanda Nkuwa, on the Zambesi represents a startling example of post-colonial amnesia. Despite the history of Cahora Bassa, the Mozambican state’s efforts to harness economic benefits from the Zambesi, above all other social and ecological goals, appears to be pushing towards the construction of what could very well be another white elephant. ALLEN ISAACMAN is Regents Professor of History and Director of the MacArthur Interdisciplinary Program on Global Change, Sustainability and Justice at the University of Minnesota. CHRIS SNEDDON is Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and the Environmental Studies Program at Dartmoth College.

No. 4. Religion and Politics in Malawi

Sam Mchombo

Fall 2003/ 31 pages  ISBN 0-9758562-2-7 The prevailing attitude about elections and power shifts in many African countries is that religion plays a minimal role in shaping the results. In most cases, this seems correct. Nevertheless, religion does play a role in influencing political developments. In some cases, the pulpit has served more to articulate political aspirations than to preach the word of God. In Malawi, the transition to democracy was influenced as much by the Catholic Bishops’ public stand against the injustices of the Kamuzu Banda regime as it was by agitation of civil society. With the end of Banda’s autocratic rule and the rise to power of President Bakili Muluzi, a Muslim, the country has been in the grips of speculation as to whether Islam is poised to replace Christianity as the dominant religion. Charges of desire to “Islamicize” the country have had to be consistently refuted by the incumbent. Still, the rise of Islam, an erstwhile minority religion, to a position of virtual dominance through being identified with the presidency, aided by sponsorship from oil-rich nations, and the emergence of strained relations between it and Christianity, have increasingly become relevant factors in current political developments in Malawi. As the general election that will retire Bakili Muluzi from the presidency draws near, the question of the religious affiliation of the next president has acquired significance; it is relevant to prospects of maintenance of peace, calm, and stability. Further, in the current climate of global conflict, couched as it is in a policy of “war on terror,” the alignment of Christianity and Islam in these global issues is far from neutral. This paper places these two religions in historical context, comments on recent events in global politics, and examines the role Islam and Christianity are likely to play in shaping political developments in Malawi.



No. 3. Governance, Rule of Law, and Political Parties in Africa

Muna Ndulo

Spring 2003 / 62 pages ISBN 0-9758562-3-5 This paper looks at political parties, their role in democratic governance in Africa and the difficulties they face operating in an African political environment. It draws largely on the Zambian experience for illustration of the issues discussed. Political parties, as one of the institutions that undergird democratic governance, need to be strengthened if democracy is to take root in African countries. This implies the need for strong parties both inside and outside of government. And yet, many of the countries in Africa suffer from weak political parties to a point where many of them have in place de facto one-party systems of government, notwithstanding the recent ferment of political pluralism and multi-party elections. If political parties—especially opposition parties—are to be strengthened in the new democracies of Africa, it is essential to identify and understand the constraints and problems confronting them. This will determine what needs to be done to transform the current state of weak multiple small parties into strong institutionalized and democratic entities. The paper discusses the subject along the following headings: the rule of law and observance of human rights and its impact on political parties; political parties and democratic governance; political parties and underlying features and problems; participation of women in political parties; political party funding; and the state of political parties in Zambia. The conclusion considers a number of recommendations that could improve the effectiveness of political parties in Africa.


No. 2. Provincial Administration and Ethnic Politics in Kenya

Eric E. Otenyo

Fall 2002/ 35 pages This paper discusses the Provincial administration’s role in mustering ethnic identities in Kenyan policy. The author contends that the modern state in Kenya uses regime consolidation premised on an ethnic domination ideology. Arguably, this pattern has been a common feature of the country’s political development. The case is made that without the administration, ethnicity would take a different form from that evident [when this paper was written]. Special focus is on the manner in which the state fortifies, creates, and privileges the very phenomenon it sought to undo—ethnicity. This paper takes the position that the colonies’ constructed ethnic rivalries negate the role of the modern African state in alleviating ethnic conflicts.


No. 1. Selling Out the Sahara: The Tragic Tale of the UN Referendum


Adekeye Adebajo

Spring 2002/ 43 pages This article argues that the failure to hold a referendum in Western Sahara to end the 27-year conflict, despite a decade-long effort by the United Nations Mission in Western Sahara (MINURSCO), has been due to four main factors. First, both the belligerents—Morocco and the POLISARIO Front—transferred the military conflict to the diplomatic battlefield, and the efforts at identifying voters effectively became a proxy for waging war by other means. Second, the main external implementers of the peace agreement, the UN and OAU, were distrusted by both parties. Third, two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States and France, remain traditional allies of Morocco and appear to value its political stability over the holding of a referendum that Morocco might lose. Finally, the success of the cease-fire in Western Sahara has combined with these three factors to reduce the urgency of finding a solution to the conflict.