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Politics, States and Social Contracts Paul Nugent, Director of Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh.

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Presentation on theme: "Politics, States and Social Contracts Paul Nugent, Director of Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh."— Presentation transcript:

1 Politics, States and Social Contracts Paul Nugent, Director of Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh

2 The Ubiquity of Good Governance

3 The Other Side of the Equation Governance = not simply about the choice and implementation of policies, but about political sustainability. Good policies that clash with political norms are unlikely to get very far Social contracts are about the sets of understandings that underpin the relations between rulers and ruled.

4 A Few Basic Points 1. A social contract does not imply an inherently harmonious relationship, merely that those who exercise power and those who on the receiving end share a common understanding of what that relationship entails. 2. Social contracts are not necessarily written down, or are not necessarily found in the places where you might expect to find them

5 >> In many countries, the way that politics is actually contracted may has little to do with the formal constitution and much more to do with deeply-rooted understandings of rules of the game. 3. Contacts often have an uneven application across national space>> geographical spread plus levels of government.

6 4. social contracts can only exist where there is communication flow between rules and ruled>> hence role of media is as crucial for authoritarian regimes as democratic ones (e.g. Mobutu)

7 Four Types of Social Contract 1. Coercive: regime claims the right to rule either through the application (or threat) of coercion, or the promise of protection [Le Guide, President as head of family writ large]. These might sound like opposites, but are actually flip sides of the same coin because the offer of protection contains an implicit threat >> Note: insurgencies can weaken the moral authority of the centre (e.g. Haile Selassie) and warlords may stake own competing claims to offer protection

8 The Coercive Contract According to Siyad Barre I, Mohammed Siyad Barre, am singularly responsible for the transformation of Somalia and Mogadisho from a bush country and scruffy hamlet into a modern state and commodious city, respectfully. Consequently, I will not allow anyone to destroy me or run me out of here; and if they try, I will take the whole country with me.

9 2. Productive: contract is based on some conception of active performance. That is, consent is traded against the effective delivery of public goods: security, social amenities, legal regime In European & US history, contracts arose out of a creative friction encapsulated as no taxation without representation

10 Representation without taxation? In African colonial systems, taxes typically borne by subjects, ot citizens (e.g. Senegal) At independence, most nationalist parties embraced versions of social contract forged in late colonialism >> especially variants on socialism But increase in aid flows (e.g. Tanzania) and the decline of direct taxation made appropriation and allocation of resources less transparent

11 By the mid 1980s, many countries had arrived at the worst of worlds: minimal delivery of public goods coupled with very little transparency. At this time, there was little chance of redress either because the one-party state or military regime remained locked into command mode. 3. Permissive: A permissive contract is one in which those who govern tolerate a range of activity that is formally illegal in return for being absolved from scrutiny>> e.g. Article 15 (débrouillez-vous) in Zaire, and border trade in micro-states (e.g. Gambia)

12 4. Liberational>> formulated during struggles for national liberation or against extreme forms of dictatorship (e.g the Dergue) and became frozen at the point when success was achieved. >> primacy of the nation and the movement as the embodiment of the national interest (e.g. Eritrea, Zimbabwe). >>

13 Political Tenses…. 1. Coercive contracts often have a peculiar conception of political time>> often a dysfunctional past that justifies a suspension of political time for some purposes 2. Liberational Contracts begin as forward-looking (the achievement of core goals), but tend to become backward-looking 3. Permissive contracts are lived in the present 4. Productive contracts>> African socialism was all about progress experienced in hyper-time. These days still looking to future, but in slow-time (MDGs)

14 Co-existing contracts In particular countries, different modes may co-exist especially as regimes mutate e.g. Mobutus Zaire combined coercive and permissive; South Africa combines liberational and productive >> result is often rather confused state discourses Note: The line of least resistance is towards permissive contracts which deflect potential conflict (but prevent traction) The line of greatest resistance is generally in the direction of productive contracts for two main reasons: (i) high risk of failure and (ii) for resource-rich states, the risk of fuelling demands

15 Whats in a Flag?

16 The Bottom Line…. For those interested in promoting better governance the challenge lies in making the alternatives (coercive and permissive contracts) seem less attractive, while simultaneously making productive contracts feel less risky and rendering them more sustainable in practice…. a tall order

17 Key Issues: What is the Point of Elections? 1. Role of Elections – a Waste of Resources? Certainly not a panacea, but they are important to enabling citizens to express their judgement about the performance of those in office >> and they may have cumulative effect (Lindberg) – a few successful rotations helps! << although bad habits catch on quickly (e.g. governments of national unity)

18 Elections force governments to keep track off their population and to articulate their claims Some minimum requirements>> (i) autonomous election commission (ii) a credible voters register (iii) a savvy electorate that is prepared to go shopping (iv) a modicum of trust amongst elites (the difference between Ghana and Kenya)


20 Popular interest Although electoral participation typically falls after the founding election, the rates of participation are not bad at all considering the conjuncture of logistics and the fact that governments are doomed to disappoint Average turnout for Africa, 1990-2001: 64% for Africa, vs 65% for North America and Caribbean, 78% for Western Europe and 79% in Oceania

21 2. Citizenship and Belonging>> constitutions often start from the abstract citizen, whereas popular discourses of politics often follow different principles. National differences: (a) Francophone states have tended to import a state-centric model in which the state defines citizenship>> reflected in the passage of national domain laws … but does not always over-ride local conceptions

22 (b) in some former British colonies, less from above >> in Ghana a strongly rooted idea of colonial state having been constructed from the bottom upwards on the basis of primary units (native states). While the post-colonial state has elaborated its own rules, it is an axiom that one cannot really be a citizen unless one claim identity through membership of a primary community.

23 >> infuses all aspects of national politics and local administration (c) in South Africa, the state effectively defined citizenship since apartheid days, but removing the apartheid legacy has also re-inforced state logics (i) internalised in popular conceptions of belonging defined by international border (hence the definition of foreigners) (ii) spatial claims internally less important than racial ones

24 Royal Bafokeng Nation… flags again

25 The messiness of social contracts often lies in the lack of a fit between what exists on paper and the rules of the game as generally understood…. But good governance interventions ignore these understandings at their peril >> the re-engagement with traditional authorities is a reflection of that reality

26 Chiefs inc.

27 (c) Public Goods: The possibility of developing a productive social contract hinges on the ability of those who hold office to identify meaningful priorities and to deliver However, pressure on public services is immense, and nowhere more so in Africas cities

28 Levels of Urbanisation

29 Levels and Rates of Urbanisation, 2010 CountryPercentage UrbanRate of Urbanization Algeria92.02.4 Djibouti87.02.2 Gabon85.02.1 Republic of Congo (Brazzav) 61.02.7 South Africa61.01.4 Botswana60.02.5 Ghana50.03.5 Nigeria48.03.8 Kenya22.04.0 Malawi19.05.2 Ethiopia17.05.4 Uganda13.04.4

30 Africas Largest Cities, millions City2010198019701950 Cairo11. Lagos10. Kinshasa8. Johannesburg & East Rand Khartoum/3 city Luanda4. Alexandria4. Abidjan4. Nairobi3. Cape Town3. Kano3. Dar es Salaam3.

31 Lagos in by-gone days

32 Lagos today…. Go slow

33 World Development Report 2009 Bretton Woods institutions are beginning to realize the downside of state-bashing. But the top priority is the set of aspatial policy instruments that apply universally to all places – establishing market institutions to regulate land use and transactions, and delivering such basic services as schools, streets and sanitation. So in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, the role of national government is pivotal in laying the foundations of inclusive urbanization.

34 Traction Intelligent urban planning requires enhanced capacity for state and municipal authorities, plus an efficient and equitable system for raising revenues - Traction In many cities, the claims of the landowners is a real political issue that cannot be ignored social contracts have to involve two-way bargains in which urban land is freed up in return for service improvements

35 In other contexts, state is needed to cement local agreements esp in relation to cross- border resource use (an emerging public good in context of climate change) (d) Externality: Does the externality of the African states makes productive contracts effectively unattainable? Depends on both the degree and nature of the externality: acute aid dependency is one form, the dominance of rents from the extractive sector is another, and remittances are a third.

36 The track-record of oil-states is not good, but Botswana and Cape Verde demonstrate that some externality can be helpful in sustaining social contracts In Cape Verde, remittances accounted for 12% of GDP in 2006>> the importance of the diaspora raises questions of the boundedness of the national community> diaspora vote?

37 A final thought: Is small beautiful? Why is it that small states, and especially, island states perform much better in governance indices? Possible answers: (a) the level of demand on the state is more manageable>> In 2006, there were 145 million Nigerians (probably!) and only 1.8 million Batswana. (b) elite tends to be much more compact and inter-connected.

38 Top of Ibrahim Table on Governance in Africa 2008-9 CountryOverall Governance Ranking Participation and Human Rights Ranking Mauritius12 Seychelles25 Botswana34 Cape Verde41 South Africa*53 Namibia68 Ghana76 Tunisia835 Egypt*939 Lesotho107 Sao Tome and Principe119 Benin1210

39 Bottom of Table CountryOverall Governance Ranking Participation and Human Rights Ranking Angola*4227 Guinea-Bissau4326 Cote dIvoire4446 Guinea4542 Equatorial Guinea*4652 Sudan*4748 CAR4830 Zimbabwe4944 Eritrea50 DRC5145 Chad*5249 Somalia53

40 (c) closer proximity of borders tends to embed the economies of smaller countries within regional economies, creating less pressure on state (d) in small countries, the overall influence of diasporas is likely to be that much greater (e) Finally, there is argument that it is simply easier for the state to broadcast its power in small countries.

41 Conclusion 1. If we take the long view, there is nothing inevitable about a transition to productive contracts. Indeed, this is often the line of greatest resistance>> the preference for permissive contracts may even be accentuated by governance reforms that parcellize the state and privatize resources 2. But coercive contracts are more difficult to sustain these days >> especially coups

42 3. Social contracts are grounded in political cultures than cannot simply be ignored or regarded as unfortunate obstacles>> in many cases a balance between group/individual rights and elected/traditional authorities may be the most viable option>> institutional pluralism has its merits. 3. Growth of urban population is likely to make service delivery play out more openly at election time.

43 4. In some countries, the diaspora factor looms large (party funding etc) 5. Successful elections tend to build trust in the process, but failed elections may create a climate of mutual suspicion that lingers… 2011 is a big election year and a few flops could set the clock back 6. Reforming electoral institutions is probably the intervention which is able to give the best returns in a short period of time

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