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Political Organisation and Elite Bargains in Africa James Putzel Department of International Development London School of Economics 29 March 2012 Addis.

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Presentation on theme: "Political Organisation and Elite Bargains in Africa James Putzel Department of International Development London School of Economics 29 March 2012 Addis."— Presentation transcript:

1 Political Organisation and Elite Bargains in Africa James Putzel Department of International Development London School of Economics 29 March 2012 Addis Ababa

2 Some caveats at the outset There is a tendency in academic literature to pathologise African politics and infantilise African states, which must be rejected vigorously. The category of “(neo) patrimonial politics” has little explanatory power, encompassing successful states like South Korea and states like Somalia and the DRC. The analytical prisms with which we discuss African politics should be the same as those used to discuss politics in any region. The individuality of African states, like all other states, makes generalisation about politics very risky. The big question is: What are the factors favouring and hindering capitalist development in Africa? I am not an expert in African politics and came to it from much longer study in Asia – I speak to collective research results.

3 A general outline Why looking at “political settlements” may tell us more than looking at “good governance” Why “Elite bargains” are central to politics in general and developing countries’ politics in particular Why political organisation plays a decisive role in shaping a state Some implications for policy

4 Dominant view in the policy community on the state and politics “Good Governance” can secure: peace and stability and growth and development “Good Governance” = the adoption of institutions promoting: Liberal democracy + Free markets

5 The right institutions Incentives for good (rules and norms) behaviour (high scores on Mo Ibrahim’s Index) In the DRC after the peace donors promoted: A democratic constitution Competitive elections Polices: anti-corruption, transparency, poverty reduction BUT the DRC has achieved neither peace nor the beginnings of development 50th on Ibrahim’s Index Telegraph 28 Nov 2011, Kinshasa elections

6 The same institutions lead to very different outcomes In Tanzania and Zambia Similar institutional reforms promoting competitive politics - were adopted peacefully - but with limited impact on growth, poverty reduction and development 13 th and 16 th on Ibrahim’s Index In Rwanda Institutions limiting political competition - established peace - and have had a significant impact on growth and modest poverty reduction 25 th on Ibrahim’s Index

7 Seeing the state as a “political settlement” Political Settlement embodies a set of power relations Emerge from conflict & bargaining Intra-elite - economic vrs political elites - landed and non-landed - rural & urban Elites & non-elites - rich & poor - employers & workers - landowners & tenants/ farmworkers Inter-group - genders, regions, ethnicities religious communities State & society as a whole Botswana public sector workers forced to end strike 2011

8 Institutional reforms must take account of the political settlement When institutional reforms are out of step with power relations At best they are ineffective - SAPs that were not implemented At worst they can provoke violent conflict Extreme example: Rwanda: The threat of democratic reforms in early 1990s likely contributed to the genocide

9 “Elite Bargains” are at the centre of political settlements Need to “buy in” elites to manage conflict peacefully In most developing countries bargains among elites remain central to peace and development prospects Elites play by state rules in exchange for privileged access to rents: - Licences: mining, telecoms, trucking, transport - control of land - access to tax holidays Defining elites: Those who: possess valued assets in agriculture, manufacturing, services (main capitalists); wield substantial power of adjudication over the distribution and allocation of property rights (traditional chiefs, landlords, regional political leaders); possess authority to bargain on behalf of rural communities or organized religious communities (traditional leaders, religious leaders); lead political organizations like parties, clan networks, populist coalitions

10 Characteristics of a state that can make an “elite bargain” durable Coercive power of the state must be both strong enough and legitimate enough to provide “credible commitment” and “credible threat”: Positive incentive to elites - rents allocated and property rights granted can be protected & enforced Negative incentives to elites - elites who choose to exit a bargain & challenge the state through violence can be punished Those who control the state must be legitimate - there is a basic acceptance of their right to rule - do not need to exercise coercive force against citizens in order to maintain power

11 Role of non-elites and social movements Two reasons why society and non-elites remain central: Elites need to main their authority among their social base regardless of regime type: - They need to ensure basic protection of communities - They need to ensure basic livelihood possibilities - They need to ensure their constituents do not resort to violence against them! Well organised social movements - can overturn an elite bargain (Tunisia) - give rise to new elites (Uganda) - reconstitute old elites in a new elite bargain and political settlement (Zambia)

12 Stable elite bargains and political settlements must be inclusive 1. Inclusive of rival elites and their constituents Elites anchored in diverse territories, and religious, ethnic or language groups Uganda - eluded state building projects pre achieved by Museveni during first 2 decades; - now threatens the future as Buganda and other communities are alienated

13 2. Inclusive in one overarching bargain rather than loosely knit exclusionary local bargains Single inclusive bargains in Zambia and Tanzania Regionally and ethnically based bargains in the DRC - Cities can be the locus of local bargains: Lubumbashi inKatanga Clan based bargains in Somalia

14 3. Inclusive in how elites mobilise their social base Mobilisation on ethnic grounds as in the DRC vrs Mobilisation around a development programme as in Rwanda Building an inclusive local coalition around national development objectives as in Durban, South Africa 4. Inclusiveness observed through outcomes more than processes Distribution of rights & entitlements among classes and groups rather than appointment of officials Imposed settlement as in Rwanda may be more inclusive than pluralist bargaining as in Burundi Dominant party state as in Tanzania - more inclusive outcomes than Kenya

15 Political Organisation Plays a Decisive Role Political organisations are groups whose actions are directed to achieving positions within the state and shaping its institutions (rules) and policy directions (come in many forms) They determine the durability and outcomes of political settlements and elite bargains They are decisive in determining the powers and the limitations of power over the Executive Authority of the state

16 Importance of Executive Authority Executive authority powerful but limited Executive authority needs to be powerful enough to impose positive and negative incentives Executive authority needs to be limited to ensure against abuse by actors - Checks within the state - Checks independent of the state Zambia UNIP faced fractious contending elites by concentrating power in the Presidency Contending elites were brought into the party and state Powerful non-executive actors within the party & state and not excluded Respected independence of Zambian trade unions All had interest in effective security forces

17 Uganda’s achievements NRM banned competitive political parties and concentrated power in the executive - crucial to development achievements Initial achievements by building alliance with contentious elites: especially the Baganda But no checks on Executive Authority Loose structure of NRM provided no means to check executive power Personalist patronage networks within the armed forces Powerful elites excluded from the state: Kabaka Few independent organisations capable of limiting executive power

18 Political organisation and differential performance of the state Analysing political organisation Political organisations and patterns of action they pursue can create executive authority that is effective in some functions and ineffective in others Understanding this puts into question efforts to come up with aggregate measures of state performance Aggregate Measures of performance Word Bank’s seven key indicators of good governance Mo Ibrahim’s four over- arching dimensions of inclusive governance - Both fail to analyse or explain differential performance within states

19 Contrasting Political Organisation in Zambia and Botswana Zambia UNIP under pressure from elites took over direct management of mines despite lack of capacity Proceeds used in patronage that maintained peace but led to sharp decline in mining production (Di John, 2010) Botswana BDP in Botswana forged an elite bargain initially among cattle ranchers that promoted state economic management capacity When diamond mining began proceeds were reinvested in infrastructure (wider issue resource curse) Ineffective in fighting HIV (Di John and Putzel, 2009)

20 Dominant Political Party versus competitive party politics When limited party competition promotes long run democracy States damaged by civil war or intense episodes of violence often experience - conflicts over who is a citizen - elites resorting to violence to secure rents Checks on executive authority must be built into party organisation Uganda/Rwanda vrs Zaire NRM and RPF in Uganda and Rwanda could ensure - political actors respect rules of the state on citizenship and rent allocation - securing state power did not rely on ethnic mobilisation Mobutu’s MPR was declared overnight & had no checks on executive authority

21 Developmental reforms often only happen under threats Elites enjoying privileged access to income streams and political decision-making have moved toward more risky patterns of investment and economic transformation only when they were confronted with threats; In Rwanda, the RPF faces a threat to its position of power if it does not deliver developmental progress, which acts as a strong incentive to both state officials and private sector actors close to the state to engage in more risky investments

22 External Actors influence elite bargains and shape political settlements Life-lines to elites: - access to developed countries markets for investments and consumption - foreign aid to relieve revenue gaps Imposition of reforms and conditionalities for loans and grants Alliances with particular political actors and organisations Threats of prosecution (ICC) Military interventions: asymmetric power

23 Implications for Politics and Reform Uniform opposition to rent seeking as corruption may provoke violence while allocation of rents and privileges may be central to peace and state-building If competitive politics will lead to exclusion of powerful elites or important ethnic, linguistic or religious groups, power- sharing may be the better option The promotion of democracy in a country needs to focus on establishing mechanisms for checks and balances on executive authority rather than the form of political party competition

24 Attention should be focused on why states perform well in some areas and not in others, and the array of interests behind these trends, rather than developing aggregate measures of “good governance”; Specific capacities in the state are the result of political decisions based on interests and never simply a technical issue that can be resolved with technical assistance; Where the basic parameters of the state, like who is a citizen and who is not, or the basic authority to allocate property rights, remain contested, the establishment of multiple political parties may allow rival elites and their social constituents to challenge the existence of the state itself, thus leading to violent conflict; The radical changes in elite bargains and political settlements required to embark on more risky developmental investments may be difficult in the absence of major threats.


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