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Taming the predatory state as a major anti-poverty project in Africa- an NGO perspective Dr Dereje Alemayehu Christian Aid, East Africa Manager.

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Presentation on theme: "Taming the predatory state as a major anti-poverty project in Africa- an NGO perspective Dr Dereje Alemayehu Christian Aid, East Africa Manager."— Presentation transcript:

1 Taming the predatory state as a major anti-poverty project in Africa- an NGO perspective Dr Dereje Alemayehu Christian Aid, East Africa Manager

2 What I try to do: This is an attempt to present my thoughts on the issue for discussion. This is also an attempt to highlight political prerequisites for the implementation of meaningful national anti-poverty programmes, as well as economic policy formulation & implementation in terms of long term economic development

3 I touch upon: Current perceptions of the African state Genesis of the African State- colonial and post colonial periods state crisis and the neo-liberal therapy – worse than the disease! Inadequacy of recent reforms The way forward – national cohesion & reconstruction of state-society relation based on accountability International context – negative and positive influencing

4 Introduction All agree: Poor state performance major endogenous reason for poor socio- economic performance in Africa since independence. Reform policies to rectify this state of affairs have either worsened the problem or have not brought about the required changes to solve it.

5 Neo-liberal therapy getting prices right got politics wrong - by denying that the direction of development is determined by politics and not by economics contributed to weakening already weak states; made undemocratic regimes more authoritarian; de-legitimised states which already lacked legitimacy; exacerbated the erosion of social capital

6 good governance- the new therapy The current good governance discourse, although an improvement compared to the SAP years, should still be deepened: governance not an issue of only bureaucratic and technocratic efficiency, this would mean government without politics corruption- systemic not behavioural pathology Governance is about restructuring state- society relation;

7 CSO and the African State Civil society Organisations, especially the so-called developmental NGOs play an ambiguous role in terms of the process of shaping a democratised state-society relationships. –In their developmental role they tend to replace the failing state by engaging in service delivery. CSO cannot replace the state. They can only de-responsibilise it. –In their advocacy role they tend to represent society. This could also undermine the emergence of legitimised representative structures in society (articulating the voice of the voiceless is another thing Civil society organisations would play a better role if they conceive themselves as facilitators of negotiations between society and state in the process of taming the latter

8 CSO and the African State –In their advocacy role they tend to represent society. This could also undermine the emergence of legitimised representative structures in society Civil society organisations would play a better role if they conceive themselves as facilitators of negotiations between society and state in the process of taming the latter

9 Critics of the African State Critics of the African State are numerous, but usually descriptive rather than analytic; lots of books on this read like a collection of anecdotes. Critical social science should not content itself with decrying the myriad failings of the state; it should develop a positive approach to determine inevitable contradictions in the historical process through which state- society relation evolves; and thereby identify the social forces and mechanisms to tame the state in a given historical context.

10 Critical social science research Should take as its point of departure the fact that the state is a site of paradox: a) the state as one institutional setup among others within a social formation; b) the state as unique setup charged with overall responsibility of maintaining the cohesion of the social formation of which it is a part. –Due to this dual nature, it is continually pulled and pushed by diverse social forces with divergent interests, inherently liable to be pulled by the one or another interest group. –An analysis of state-society relation from this perspective may give insight as to how a state that could be captured by particular interests could be recaptured by society.

11 Critical social science research Equally important is an analysis of power relationships in sub-structures of society could give insight how to democratise inter-society relationships, without which democratising state-society relations could not succeed.

12 Genesis of the African State under colonialism Most African societies were at different pre- capitalist stages at the advent of colonialism. Hardly any of the communities were engaged in surplus production, so there were no ruling classes to organise society with functionally differentiated institutions to facilitate continuous production of surplus. Most of the countries in SSA thus had no experience in Statehood and Nationhood before colonialism.

13 Genesis of the African state under colonialism After General Malaria successfully foiled settler colonisation in many parts of Africa, no wealth creation was initiated (thus no capacity to produce wealth was created). At best, wealth extraction was carried out in some regions endowed with natural resources functional to northern capitalism. States and state functions were created by colonialist to pacify and subjugate colonised peoples. Even municipalities were created not to collect garbage but to enforce forced labour

14 Legacy of colonialism Colonialism was only active in the destruction of old structures, without constructing new ones in their place. And the colonialists left as hastily as they came, leaving the continent with the agony of the old without the birth of the new. And the agony persists.

15 State and nation building after independence State-building was not part of a Nation building process - an important disconnect to note when dealing with the incoherence in the state-society relations in the post-independence period

16 The lack of indigenous roots in terms of positive state-society relations lack of productive classes with vested interest in perpetual production of surplus, the inherited and entrenched extractive culture at the expense of neglecting perpetual wealth creation Maintenance of state function as a handy tool for this extraction, Miscarriage of the nationalist project of some of the post independent leaders miscarried predestined most of the African states to be privatisable instruments of power such that the ruling elite could utilise them to pursue its collective strategy of private enrichment and to make the maintenance of patronage systems as a means and end of political power.

17 Undeniable improvements- but still inadequate Electoral democracy – but mostlyvoting without choosing; Politicisation of society – only lead to a permanent election campaigning, not to issues-based debate Ownership of development process- still largely nominal participation in policy processes – still formal Erosion of social capital not yet checked: people look at the state with disdain; refuse to internalise norms, rules and regulations & abide by them

18 Conclusion Incomplete nation-building and perennial dysfunctional state-society relationship characterise the major political impediment to eliminate poverty in Africa.

19 the way forward The way forward lies in democratising state –society relations. This involves pursuing two interrelated major political projects: a) forging national cohesion to put an end to the fragmentation of society along parochial ethnic or regionalist lines; b) Empowering society to put an end to the prevalence of dysfunctional states;

20 Forging national cohesion The history of all late developers shows that successful development has basically been a politically induced process propelled by nationalism. Thus there national cohesion is a prerequisite for national development.

21 To forge national cohesion: Work out national consensus which enables regulating social and political conflicts democratically Establish a broad and stable political coalition for a common social project with the eradication of poverty as a cardinal element – shifting coalitions of self seeking political elite a major problem in pluralist party democracy Reclaim policy sovereignty to formulate policies and strategies that reflect the needs and aspirations of majority of citizens in a country Develop a shared recognition that development takes place in a difficult, uncertain and even hostile international environment; Develop a shared conviction that it needs a combined national effort to mitigate adverse influences and make use of opportunities emanating from the international context Develop a Pan-African perspective: - as a united nation-state enhance regional integration – which helps avoid interstate conflicts & enhances collective bargaining power in the international context CSO with constituencies that transcend ethnicity – trade unions, farmers unions, chambers of commerce, professional associations, FBO could and should play a major role in this process

22 Reconstruct a functional state: this requires Transform Africans from subjects to citizens. Subjects obey, citizens hold governments to account. - This involves a painstaking awareness raising and organisational work. Not individuals, but organised individuals could hold those who rule to account Develop & agree on mechanisms that enable to reconstruct a sate-society relationship based on accountability in all its forms & at all levels So-called development NGO could and should play a leading role in this process

23 Functional state Facilitate an informed and organised participation of citizens in the political and policy processes –The policy process is as important as –if not more important than - the policy content itself. –The possibility of citizens holding governments accountable is directly proportional to their own participation in the policy formulation process.

24 Functional state Challenge aid dependency syndrome to reduce importance of accountability to donors at the cost of domestic accountability. –no representation without taxation – the inversion of the famous American slogan –No taxation without representation –(The power of European monarchs was curtailed not when their heads were cut off, but when their hands were tied to keep them away from the treasury) –making African states more dependent on internal revenue is thus one of the most important mechanisms to reconstruct state-society relation based on accountability

25 International context & democratising state-society relation- stop negative influencing the competition between the two superpowers for sphere of influence and neo-colonialism of former colonial powers was a big impediment for democratisation; It is not a mere coincidence that democratisation as a political conditionality came with the end of the cold war But interference of foreign powers in individual countries which negatively affect democratisation is not yet over – anti-terrorism laws an example;

26 - Negative influences economic conditionality still an impediment to policy sovereignty –It inhibits national debate on policies with a meaningful participation of the population; even participation of the mostly rubber stamp parliaments is nominal –It perpetuates aid dependency, thus leads to neglect of national resource mobilisation, –It has created an attitude of anticipatory obedience among African leaders –The fungibility of aid – frees resources for corrupt leaders to oil their patronage system

27 Global governance –positive influencing to enhance democratisation – this could help for example to : de-link aid policy from foreign policy interests of big powers; curtail propping up undemocratic regimes favoured by the one or the other foreign power Create and enforce mechanisms to hold TNC accountable – thus reducing economic crimes and political corruption they perpetrate in Africa Create an international tax regime that could curtail tax competition among African countries, and tax avoidance/evasion by TNC Ensure the implementations of conventions etc to which African States are signatories. This would enormously strengthen the internal democratisation process

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