Explain the paradox of democratic divergence

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Choose ONE question and answer in 7-9 pages:

  1. Explain the paradox of democratic divergence (sources: lectures, Book: Kurlanzick)
  2. Explain the paradox of electoral economics (sources: lectures, Book: Bates)
  3. Explain bridging institutions (sources: lectures, Book: Mann)

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1

Introduction

In late-century Africa, things fell apart. By way of illustra-tion, consider Figure 1.1, which lists civil wars in African countries from 1970 to 1995, as judged by the World Bank.

As time passes, the list grows. Angola, Chad, Namibia,

Nigeria, and Sudan enter the 1970s war-torn; in the mid-1970s,

Sudan exits the list, but Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe join

it; by 1980, Zimbabwe departs from the ranks of the war-torn,

but is replaced by Mozambique, Nigeria, and Uganda. The

pattern – a few dropping off, a larger number entering in –

continues into the early 1990s. Only one country that was con-

flict ridden in 1990 becomes peaceful by 1992, while eleven

others crowd into the ranks of Africa’s failed states.

Humanitarians, policymakers, and scholars: Each de-

mands to know why political order gave way to political con-

flict in late-century Africa. Stunned by the images and realities

of political disorder, I join them in search of answers. In so

doing, I – a political scientist – turn to theories of the state and

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year 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95

Burundi

Chad

Congo

Djibouti

Ethiopia

Kenya

Liberia

Mali

Mozambique Namibia

Nigeria Rwanda

Senegal

Sierra Leone Somalia Sudan

Uganda Congo

Zimbabwe

Figure 1.1. Civil wars, Africa 1970–1995. Source: World Bank (Sambanis 2002).

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Introduction

locate the sources of political disorder midst the factors that

lead states to break down.

I anchor this book in the work of Weber (1958) and view

coercion as the distinctive property of politics. As will become

clear in the next chapter, I depart from Weber – and his “struc-

turalist” descendants1 – by turning to the theory of games.

Driven by the realities of Africa, I view political order as

problematic: In light of the evidence Africa offers, political

order cannot be treated as a given. Rather, I argue, it results

when rulers – whom I characterize as “specialists in violence” –

choose to employ the means of coercion to protect the creation

of wealth rather than to prey upon it and when private citizens

choose to set weapons aside and to devote their time instead

to the production of wealth and to the enjoyment of leisure.2

When these choices constitute an equilibrium, then, I say,

political order forms a state.3

To address the collapse of political order in late-century

Africa, I therefore return to theory – the theory of the state – and

to theorizing – the theory of games. I do so because proceeding

in this fashion points out the conditions under which political

order can persist – or fail. I devote Chapter 2 to an informal

1 Evans, P., T. Skocpol, and D. Rueschmeyer (1985), Bringing the State Back In, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press provides perhaps the best-known example.

2 I am drawing on Bates, R. H., A. Greif, et al. (2002), “Organizing Violence,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 46(5): 599–628.

3 The ambiguous phrasing is intended.

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Introduction

derivation of those conditions. In the remaining chapters, I

turn from deduction to empirics and explore the extent to

which these conditions were to be found, or were absent, in

late-century Africa. The evidence leads me to conclude that

in the 1980s and 1990s, each of three key variables departed

from the levels necessary to induce governments and citizens

to choose in ways that would yield political order.

The Literature

Following the outbreak of conflict in Serbia, Somalia, Rwanda,

and elsewhere, the study of political violence has once again

become central to the study of politics. Familiar to many, for

example, would be the attempts by Collier and Hoeffler (2004)

and Fearon and Laitin (2003) to comprehend the origins of civil

wars. Also familiar would be studies of the impact of ethnic-

ity (Fearon and Laitin 2003), democracy (Hegre, Gates et al.

2001; Hegre 2003), and natural-resource endowments (e.g.,

Ross 2004). In my attempts to comprehend why things fell

apart in late-century Africa, I draw upon these writings. But I

also take issue with them, for virtually all share common prop-

erties from which I seek to depart.

Consider, for example, the assumption that civil war can be

best treated as the outcome of an insurgency. When thinking

about the origins of political disorder in Africa, I can find no

way of analyzing the origins of insurrection without starting

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Introduction

with the behavior of governments. The conditions that led

to the breakdown of order in Africa include the authoritarian

nature of its states and their rulers’ penchant for predation. By

rendering their people insecure, they provoked insurgencies.

While both insurrectionaries and incumbents must necessar-

ily feature in the analysis of political disorder, in this instance it

makes sense not to focus exclusively on the rebels but to stress

as well the behavior of those whom they seek to drive from

power.

Recent contributions exhibit a second common feature:

the methods that they employ. Utilizing cross-national data,

they apply statistical procedures to isolate and measure the

relationship of particular variables with the onset and duration

of civil wars. I, too, make use of cross-national data; but rather

than collecting data for all countries in the globe, I restrict my

efforts to Africa. I do so in part because Africa provides an

unsettling range of opportunities to explore state failure and

because political disorder is so important a determinant of the

welfare of the continent. I also do so because I find it necessary

to draw upon my intuition. To employ that intuition, I need

first to inform it, be it by immersing myself in the field or in

qualitative accounts set down by observers. I have therefore

made use of a selected set of cases – those from the continent

of Africa – and my knowledge of their politics.4

4 The use of a subset of countries also eases the search for exogenous vari- ables, and thus causal analysis. For example, given the small size of Africa’s

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Introduction

Lastly, if only because they are based on the analysis of

cross-national data, contemporary studies exhibit a third

property: Their conclusions take the form of “findings.” These

findings are based upon relationships between a selection of

key variables and the outbreak or duration of civil wars. Collier

and Hoeffler (2004), for example, stress the importance of

“opportunities,” that is, chances to secure economic rewards

and to finance political organizations. Noting that the magni-

tude of primary product exports, the costs of recruiting, and

access to funding from diasporas relate to the likelihood of

civil war, they conclude that “economic viability appears to be

the predominant systematic explanation of rebellion” (p. 563).

Fearon and Laitin (2003), by contrast, conclude that “capa-

bilities” play the major role: “We agree that financing is one

determinant of the viability of insurgency,” they write (p. 76).

But they place major emphasis on “state administrative, mil-

itary, and police capabilities” (p. 76), measures of which bear

significant relationships to the outbreak of civil wars in their

global set of data.

In this work, I proceed in a different fashion. I start by

first capturing the logic that gives rise to political order. While

I, too, test hypotheses about the origins of disorder, I derive

economies, I can treat global economic shocks as exogenous – something that yields inferential leverage when seeking to measure the impact of economic forces on state failure.

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Introduction

these hypotheses from a theory. By adopting a more deductive

approach, I depart from the work of my predecessors.

Key Topics

Energized by such works as Kaplan’s “The Coming Anarchy”

(1994), students of Africa have focused on the relationship

between ethnic diversity and political conflict. At least since

the time that William Easterly and Ross Levine penned “Africa’s

Growth Tragedy” (1997), empirically minded social scientists

have sought to capture the impact of ethnicity on the eco-

nomic performance of Africa’s states. Interestingly, however,

they have found it difficult to uncover systematic evidence of

the relationship between measures of ethnicity and the likeli-

hood of political disorder.5

In this study I, too, find little evidence of a systematic rela-

tionship. And yet, the qualitative accounts – be they of the

killing fields of Darfur or of the tenuous peace in Nigeria – con-

tinue to stress the central importance of ethnicity to political

life in Africa. In response, I argue that ethnic diversity does

not cause violence; rather, ethnicity and violence are joint

5 For a discussion, see Bates, R. H., and I. Yackolev (2002), Ethnicity in Africa, in The Role of Social Capital In Development, edited by C. Grootaert and T. van Bastelaer, New York: Cambridge University Press; and Fearon, J., and D. Laitin (2003), “Ethnicity, Insurgency and Civil War,” American Political Science Review 97(1): 75–90.

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Introduction

products of state failure. Their relationship is contingent: It

occurs when political order erodes and politicians forge polit-

ical organizations in the midst of political conflict.

The political significance of resource wealth has also

attracted much attention. Analyzing their data on civil wars,

Collier and Hoeffler (2004) report that “dependence upon pri-

mary commodity exports” constituted “a particularly power-

ful risk factor” for the outbreak of civil war (p. 593). Africa

is, of course, noted for its bounteous natural endowments of

petroleum, timber, metals, and gemstones. And scholars and

policymakers have documented the close ties between the dia-

mond industry and UNITA (National Union for the Total Inde-

pendence of Angola) in Angola (Fowler 2000), the smuggling

of gemstones and the financing of rebels in Sierra Leone (Reno

2000), and the mining of coltan and the sites of rebellion in

eastern Zaire (present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo)

(Kakwenzire and Kamukama 2000).

And yet, using Collier and Hoeffler’s (2004) own data,

Fearon (2005) has demonstrated that their findings are frag-

ile, depending in part on decisions about how to measure

and classify cases. In this study, too, I fail to find a signifi-

cant relationship between the value of natural resources and

the likelihood of state failure.6 Once again, then, there arises

6 For both Fearon (2005) and myself (this work), only the value of petroleum deposts is related to political disorder. Even here the relationship is fragile, however.

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Introduction

a disparity between the evidence from cross-national regres-

sions and that from qualitative accounts. I shall argue that the

disparity suggests that the exploitation of natural resources

for war finance is a correlate rather than a cause of political

disorder.

A third factor plays a major role in the literature: democ-

ratization. Qualitative accounts, such as those of Mansfield

and Snyder (Mansfield and Snyder 1995; Snyder 2000) sug-

gest that democratization produces political instability and

leads to the mobilization of what Zakaria (1997) calls “illib-

eral” political forces. Careful empirical researchers, such as

Hegre (Hegre, Gates et al. 2001; Hegre 2004), confirm that new

democracies and intermediate regimes – those lying some-

where between stable authoritarian and consolidated demo-

cratic governments7 – exhibit significantly higher rates of civil

war. As demonstrated by Geddes (2003), many of these inter-

mediate regimes are the product of the “third wave” of democ-

ratization (Huntington 1991) and the collapse of communist

regimes and are therefore themselves new and vulnerable to

disorder.

In the 1980s and 1990s, many of Africa’s governments

reformed. Regimes that once had banned the formation

of political parties now faced challenges at the polls from

7 Using Polity coding. Available online at: http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/ polity/.

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Introduction

candidates backed by an organized political opposition. And

in the late 1980s and early 1990s, militias assembled, states

failed, and Africa faced rising levels of political disorder. The

experience of Africa thus appears to conform to what the liter-

ature has recorded: Electoral competition and state failure go

together.

In analyzing the impact of political reform, I employ two

measures: the movement from military to civilian rule and the

shift from no- or one- to multiparty systems. In discussions of

democracy, the followers of Schumpeter (1950) argue for the

sufficiency of party competition; those of Dahl (1971) contend

that party competition is necessary but not sufficient. Without

an accompanying bundle of political and civil rights, the latter

argue, contested elections are not of themselves evidence of

democratic politics. In debates over the relationship between

party systems and democracy, I concur with the followers of

Dahl. When addressing political reform, I pay no attention to

the number of political parties, their relative vote shares, or

the conditions under which the opposition is allowed to cam-

paign. I therefore address not the relationship between democ-

racy and political conflict but rather the relationship between

political reform and political disorder.

Lastly, there are those who emphasize the impact of pov-

erty. That poverty and conflict should go together is treated

as noncontroversial, as if disorder were simply an expected

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Introduction

corollary of the lack of economic development.8 But consider:

If, as many argue, lower per capita incomes imply lower wages

and therefore lower costs of rebellion, so too do they imply

fewer gains from predation; income thus cancels out the ratio

between the costs and benefits. From the theoretical point of

view, moreover, there is simply little that can be said about the

relationship between the average level of income – or, for that

matter, poverty – and incentives for violence. As I will argue

in Chapter 2, for our purposes, discussions of private income

can be set aside; for the logic of political order suggests that

the focus be placed not on private income but rather on public

revenues. Economic shocks will indeed play a major role in this

analysis, but the focus will be on their impact on the revenues

of states, not on the incomes of individuals.9 In this work, when

I measure the impact of income per capita, I treat it as a control

variable, rather than as a variable of theoretical interest.

In Chapter 2, I parse the logic of political order. I recount the

theory informally, portraying the interaction between govern-

ments and citizens and among citizens as well. Presented as a

8 Indeed, see Sambanis, N., and H. Hegre (2006), “Sensitivity Analysis of Empirical Results on Civil War Onset,” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 50(4): 508–35. The authors point to per capita income as one of the very few variables that bears a robust relationship with civic violence.

9 See the arguments in Hirshleifer, J. (1995), Theorizing About Conflict, in Handbook of Defense Economics, edited by K. Hartley and T. Sandler, New York: Elsevier.

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Introduction

fable, the argument is based upon rigorous foundations and

points to the conditions under which governments choose to

engage in predation and citizens choose to take up arms.10

Chapters 3 through 5 set out the conditions that prevailed

prior to the collapse of political order. They document the

social and political configurations that were in place at the

time of the impact of the economic and political shocks that

dismantled the state in Africa. In Chapter 6, states fracture

and political disorder engulfs nations in Africa. Chapter 7

concludes.

10 The informed reader will note the parallels between my analysis and that of Azam, J.-P., and A. Mesnard (2003), “Civil War and the Social Contract,” Public Choice 115(3–4): 455–75; Snyder, R., and R. Bhavani (2005), “Diamonds, Blood and Taxes: A Revenue-Centered Framework for Ex- plaining Political Order,” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 49(4): 563– 97; and Magaloni, B. (2006), Voting for Autocracy, New York: Cambridge University Press.

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2

From Fable to Fact

Idevote this chapter to the exposition of a fable.1 Whilediminutive, it is incisive: It captures the incentives that drive the choices that lead to the failure of states. It is also

suggestive, for it points to the conditions under which polit-

ical order should, or should not, prevail. After expositing this

fable, I determine whether it is also informative. It can be

so only insofar as the forces that animate its central char-

acters find their parallel in late-century Africa. I devote the

last portions of the chapter to arguing that they do and that

the story communicated by the fable can therefore bear the

weight of the tragedy that befell the continent. The fable can

be used – with help – to explore the foundations of political

disorder.

1 A rigorous presentation appeared as Bates, R. H., A. Greif, et al. (2002), “Organizing Violence,” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 46(5): 599– 628.

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Introduction

A Fable

Consider the following scenario: A community is peopled by a

“specialist in violence” and two groups of citizens. Headed by

powerful patrons, the groups can act in a unified manner.2 The

specialist in violence earns his living from the use of force; he

either seizes the wealth of others or pockets funds they pay for

their protection. Sheltered behind their patrons, the citizens

generate incomes by engaging in productive labor; but they

too can be mobilized either to seize the income of others – or

to defend their incomes from seizure. The three personages in

this drama repeatedly interact over time. The question is: Can

political order prevail in such a setting?

The answer is: Yes. Under certain circumstances, the spe-

cialist will chose to use his control of the means of violence to

protect rather than to despoil private property. And the groups

of citizens will chose to devote their time and energies to labor

and leisure and forswear the use of arms, while rewarding the

specialist in violence for protecting them against raids by oth-

ers. In addition, under certain well-specified conditions, these

choices will persist in equilibrium, rendering political order a

state.

The primary reason for this outcome is that the players

interact over time. The specialist in violence and political

2 That is, they have solved the collective action problem.

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From Fable to Fact

organizations can therefore condition their future choices on

present behavior; that is, they can make threats and inflict pun-

ishments and thus shape the behavior of others. Should one

group raid or withhold tax payments, the specialist can retal-

iate by changing from guardian to predator. And should the

specialist opportunistically seize the wealth of the member of a

group, his defection would trigger punishment by that citizen’s

confederates: They can withhold tax payments or mobilize for

fighting. If not sufficiently paid for the provision of security,

the specialist in violence can pay himself: he can turn from

guardian to warlord. And if preyed upon or left undefended,

then the citizens can furnish their own protection; they can

take up arms.

When both the specialist and the citizens turn to pun-

ishment, political order breaks down. People become inse-

cure. They also become poor; having to reallocate resources

to defense, they have fewer resources to devote to produc-

tive activity. The resultant loss of security and prosperity stays

the hand of a specialist in violence who might be tempted to

engage in predation or of a group that might be tempted to

forcefully seize the goods of another or withhold tax payments,

thus triggering political disorder.

To better grasp the incentives that animate this story, focus

on the choices open to the specialist in violence, as commu-

nicated in Figure 2.1. In this figure, the vertical axis repre-

sents monetary gains or losses. The further above zero, the

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Introduction

Payoffs

+

0

Time

Payoffs on the equilibrium path

Payoffs from defection and subsequent punishment

 

Figure 2.1. Payoffs from strategy choices.

greater the payoffs; the further below, the greater the losses.

The horizontal axis designates time, with the more immediate

payoffs occurring near the origin and the more distant ones

further to the right. The dotted line represents the flow of pay-

offs that result from tax payments; the flow is steady, mod-

erate, and positive in value. The dashed line represents the

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From Fable to Fact

flow of payoffs that result from predation. Predation yields an

immediate benefit: The dashed line leaps above the dotted

line, indicating that the income from predation significantly

exceeds that from tax payments. But that one period spike

then gives way to a stream of losses, as illustrated by the plunge

below the zero point that separates gains from losses. Insofar

as a decision maker is forward looking, the losses that accrue

in the punishment phase caste a shadow over the returns from

defection and so temper any wish to engage in predation.

If summed over time, each line – that representing the

returns to taxation and that the returns to predation – yields an

expected payoff. What would determine their magnitudes? In

particular, what would determine whether the value of the vari-

able path, generated by predation, will be more or less attrac-

tive than that of the steady path, generated from tax payments?

The factors that determine the relative magnitude of these pay-

offs determine whether the specialist in violence will adhere

to the path of play and continue to behave as guardian or veer

from that path, engage in predation, and trigger the re-arming

of the citizenry and subsequent disorder.

The Conditions of Political Order

One factor is the level of tax revenue. If too low, the benefits of

predation may be tempting despite the subsequent costs.3 A

3 But they may also be if too high. See the discussion in Bates, R. H., A. Greif, et al. (2002), “Organizing Violence.”

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Introduction

second is the magnitudes of the rewards that predation might

yield. If sufficiently bounteous, the specialist in violence might

choose to deviate despite the losses. A third is the special-

ist’s rate of discount. A specialist in violence who is impatient,

greedy, or insecure will discount the future payoffs that accrue

along the path of play; and she will also discount the penal-

ties that follow an opportunistic deviation. She may therefore

find the prospect of predation more attractive than if she were

patient, prosperous, or secure.

The fable thus suggests that the possibility of political order

rests on the value of three variables: the level of public revenues,

the rewards from predation, and the specialist’s rate of dis-

count. The interplay of these forces helps to determine whether

governments safeguard or prey upon the wealth of the land;

whether groups of citizens take up arms; and whether there is

political order – or state failure.

The tale may be engaging; elsewhere it has been shown

to be logically consistent (Bates, Greif et al. 2002). But it is

informative only insofar as it captures and incorporates key

features of Africa’s political landscape. Only insofar as it does

so will it offer insight into the tribulations of that continent.

Features of Late-Century Politics

Recall that the scenario was populated by a specialist in vio-

lence and by citizens who could, should they choose, take up

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From Fable to Fact

0� 5�

10� 15� 20� 25� 30� 35� 40�

1970-� 74 �

1�975�-� 79�

1980-� 84�

1985�-� 89�

1990-� 95�

Percentage�

Figure 2.2. Percentage country years in which country ruled by mili-

tary head of state.

arms. Now note a characteristic feature of late-century poli-

tics in Africa: A significant portion of Africa’s states were ruled

by their military. Turning to Figure 2.2, we find that from the

beginning of the 1970s to the end of the 1980s, in more than

30 percent of the observations, Africa’s heads of state came

from the armed forces.4 In the 1990s, U.S. president William

Clinton and British prime minister Tony Blair heralded the

emergence of a “new generation” of African rulers – Yoweri

Museveni in Uganda, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Meles Zenawi

in Ethiopia, and Isaias Afwerki in Eritrea – while failing to men-

tion that each had come to power as the head of an armed

insurgency. In many states, then, power came from the barrel

of a gun (Ottaway 1999).5

4 For details of the sample, see Table A.1 in the Appendix. 5 Lest readers regard the link between coercion and politics to be distinc-

tive of politics in Africa, they might first recall the note sent by the father

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Introduction

Not only were heads of states specialists in violence, the cit-

izens, too, frequently took up arms. By way of illustration, con-

sider the case of Chad. At the beginning of our sample period,

1970, Francois Tombalbaya, head of the Parti Progressive Tcha-

dien (PPT), was president of Chad. Tombalbaya belonged to

the Sara, an agriculturalist people in the southern portions of

the country; the eastern and northern portions were popu-

lated by pastoralist peoples. As Tombalbaya consolidated his

rule, he posted administrators from the south to govern these

other regions. There they imposed policies designed to propa-

gate Sara culture and imposed new taxes on cattle. In response,

the pastoralists mounted protests, fomented riots, and formed

militias: the Front for the Liberation of Chad (FLT) in the east

and the Front for National Liberation (FROLINAT) in the north.

It was only by calling for military assistance from France that

Tombalbaya remained in power.6

of Frederick the Great to the young man’s tutors: “[I]n the highest mea- sure . . . instill in my son a true love of the military . . . and impress on him that nothing in the world can give a prince such fame and honor as the sword and that he would be the most despicable creature on earth if he did not revere it and seek glory from it. . . . ” (p. 18 of Asprey, R. B. (1986), Frederick the Great, New York: Ticknor and Fields). Recall, too, the rueful words of the dying Louis IV: “I have loved war too much.” (http://encarta.msm.com).

6 For accounts, see Buijtenhuijs, R. (1989), Chad, in Contemporary West African States, edited by D. B. Cruise O’Brien, J. Dunn, and R. Rath- bone, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press; May, R. (2003), Internal Dimensions of Warfare in Chad, in Readings in African Poli- tics, edited by T. Young, Oxford: James Currey; Lemarchand, R. (1981), “Chad: The Roots of Chaos,” Current History (December); Nolutshungu,

22

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From Fable to Fact

Whereas the militarization of Chad marks the opening of

the sample period, conflict between militias in Congo (Braz-

zaville) marks its end. In 1992, a southerner, Pascal Lissouba,

became president of Congo(B); in the run up to the next pres-

idential election, the strongman and former president, Denis

Sassou-Nguesso, declared his candidacy. As political tensions

mounted, each politician mobilized a private army: the Cobras,

who supported Sassou-Nguesso, and the Zulus, who sup-

ported Pascal Lissouba. Kindled in the provincial towns, fight-

ing between these groups erupted in the capital where the

mayor, Bernard Kolelas, had organized his own militia, the

Njinjas. Combat between these militias lay waste to one of

the major cities of French-speaking Africa.7

As seen in Figure 2.3, over the course of the sample period

1970–1995, reports of the formation of militias became more

common. With increasing frequency, citizens took up arms

and states lost their monopoly over the means of violence.

The scenario depicted at the outset of this chapter

thus incorporates two major features of the politics of late

S. C. (1996), Limits of Anarchy, Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia; and Azam, J.-P. (2007), The Political Geography of Redis- tribution, Chap. 6 in The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960–2000: An Analytic Survey, edited by B. Ndulu, P. Collier, R. H. Bates, and S. O’Connell, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

7 One of the best accounts appears in Bazenguissa-Ganga, R. (2003), The Spread of Political Violence in Congo-Brazzaville, in Readings in African Politics, edited by T. Young, Oxford: James Currey.

23

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Introduction

.1

.2

.3

.4

.5

1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 year

95% CI Fitted values

Figure 2.3. Reports of militias by year, percent of observations.

twentieth-century Africa: rule by specialists in violence and

the militarization of civic society. In accounting for political

disorder, it pointed to three key variables: the level of public

revenues received by governments; the magnitude of tempta-

tions they face, as determined by the rewards for predation;

and the relative weight placed upon them. A moment’s reflec-

tion leads to the recognition of the possible significance of

these variables for the politics of late-century Africa.

Revenues

In the 1970s, a sharp increase in the price of oil triggered global

recession. The increased price of energy led to higher costs of

production in the advanced industrial economies, resulting in

24

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From Fable to Fact

the laying off of labor and a lowering of incomes. For Africa,

the result was a decrease in the demand for exports.

In Africa, as in many other developing regions, taxes on

trade constitute one of the most important sources of public

revenue. As the value of exports from Africa declined, so too

did the taxes collected by Africa’s governments. In the latter

decades of the twentieth century, then, while Africa’s people

faced a “growth tragedy” (Easterly and Levine 1997), its states

faced a crisis of public revenues. The break in the global econ-

omy was sharp and unanticipated; and the recovery of pub-

lic finance required comprehensive and protracted restructur-

ing, involving changes not only in tax rates but also in policies

toward trade and industrial development.

The economic forces at play in late-century Africa thus

aligned with the conditions in the fable, reducing the revenues

of governments. Within the framework of the fable, the decline

in public revenues represents a decline in the rewards from

public service. In the face of such a reduction, those who con-

trol the means of violence find the income derived from the

protection of civilians declining relative to the returns from

predation. By the logic of the fable, they would therefore be

more likely to turn to predation. Rather than providing secu-

rity, those who controlled the state would become a source of

insecurity, as they sought to extract revenue from the wealth

of their citizens.

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Introduction

Discount Rate

In the fable, if the government becomes more impatient or

insecure, the rewards that accrue to those who act as guardians

decline in value; so, too, the penalties that would be imposed

were they to revert to predation. As the “shadow of the future”8

thus dissipates, the level of temptation rises: Immediate ben-

efits weigh more heavily than future losses, and incumbents

may become more predatory, provoking state failure.

Returning to the empirical record, in the late 1980s, Africa

underwent a period of political reform. With the end of the

Cold War, the “third wave” of democratization9 swept across

the continent and governments that in the 1980s had been

immune to political challenges now faced organized polit-

ical opponents. As seen in Figure 2.4, whereas from the

early 1970s to the mid-1980s, more than 80% of the country-

year observations contained no- or one-party systems, by the

mid 1990s, more than 50% experienced multiparty systems.

With the shift to multiparty politics, those who presided over

Africa’s authoritarian governments faced an unanticipated

increase in the level of political risk. Few had prepared them-

selves to compete at the polls; some surely would have chosen

8 The phrase comes from Axelrod, R. (1985), The Evolution of Cooperation, New York: Basic Books.

9 Huntington, S. P. (1991), The Third Wave, Norman, OK: Oklahoma Uni- versity Press.

26

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From Fable to Fact

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

1970- 74

1975- 79

1980- 84

1985- 89

1990- 95

Percentage of Country Years

No-Party

One-Party

Multiparty

Figure 2.4. Political competition over time.

to govern with more restraint had they known that they might

someday be forced from political office and shorn of the pro-

tection it afforded. Incumbents became less secure. And by the

logic of the fable, they would therefore find the modest rewards

that accrue to political guardians less attractive, and the fear

of future punishment less daunting, increasing the temptation

to engage in predation.

Resources

To a degree that exceeds any other region of the world, the

economies of Africa are based on the production of precious

minerals, gemstones, petroleum, and other precious com-

modities. These resources pose a constant temptation to those

with military power. Were they to shift from guardian to preda-

tor, their future prosperity would nonetheless be ensured,

underpinned by the income generated by natural resources.

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Introduction

Consider the case of Nigeria, where, in the words of Bill

Dudley (1982, p. 92): “[T]he oil boom was a disaster . . . ” – one

made worse by military rule. As Dudley states:

[T]he effect of the oil boom was to convert the military polit-

ical decision-makers . . . into a new property-owning, rentier

class working in close and direct collaboration with foreign

business interests with the sole aim of expropriating the sur-

pluses derived from oil for their private and personal benefit

(Dudley 1982, p. 116).

Consider, too, the Sudan or Chad, following the discov-

ery of oil. In both, incumbent regimes turned to repression,

the one harrying the Dinka and the other the Sara. Resource

wealth thus appears to shape the behavior of elites. In the

face of dwindling public resources or insecure political futures,

given the availability of wealth from appropriable resources,

they could greet with equanimity a future of political disorder.

Those immersed in environments richly endowed by nature

would therefore be willing to take actions that rendered others

insecure, thus triggering state failure.

Conclusion

The logic of the fable highlights the importance of public

revenues, democratization, and natural resources and the

manner in which they impinge upon the possibility of political

order. As we have seen, the elements that affect political order

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From Fable to Fact

in the fable parallel political forces that shaped the politics of

the continent in the later decades of the twentieth century.

While many who have studied Africa have emphasized

the political importance of economic collapse, the “resource

curse,” and the relationship between political competition and

political conflict, this account focuses on the logic that system-

atically links these forces to the political incentives that under-

lie state failure. Being abstract, the logic is also adaptable; it

can play out in a variety of forms. Consider the nature of the

groups that may – or may not – transmute into militias. In

one setting, they may be the youth wings of political parties;

in another, regional coalitions; and in a third, ethnic groups.

The same applies to the specialists in violence. In some set-

tings, the military rule; clearly the military specialize in the

use of violence. In other instances, it is civilians who gov-

ern. Even a civilian head of state presides over police, public

prosecutors, and a prison system; by bringing them to bear

upon citizens, he too can transform the state into an instru-

ment for predation. In still other instances, the civil service

assumes the role of a specialist in violence, using its command

of the bureaucracy to redistribute income from the citizens

to themselves. Different actors can thus fulfill the major roles

in the fable, but their parts are inscribed in a common script.

By the choices they make, they animate the sources of political

order, induce state failure, thereby enacting the tragedy that

engulfed late-century Africa.

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Part Two

Sowing the Seeds

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3

Political Legacies

By convention, 1960 marks the year of independence inAfrica.1 Shortly after independence, Africa’s new states faced two withering critiques, one mounted by Franz Fanon

(1963) and a second by Rene Dumont (1962). Although their

indictments overlap, Fanon’s targeted their politics whereas

Dumont’s focused on their policies. In this chapter, I ana-

lyze the nature of post-independence politics, emphasizing

in particular the nature of political institutions. In Chapter 4,

I address the policies chosen by Africa’s governments in the

post-independence era.

As reported in Chapter 2, by the late 1970s, in more than

eighty percent of the country years,2 opposition parties failed

to challenge incumbent heads of state, most often because

it was illegal for them to do so (Figure 2.4), and in roughly

1 Of the forty-six states in our sample set of countries, only six had achieved independence prior to 1960; in 1960 alone, fifteen became sovereign.

2 The sample covers a panel of forty-six countries over twenty years. A single observation therefore constitutes a country year, e.g., Zimbabwe in the year 1970. Thus the origins of this awkward term.

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Sowing the Seeds

one-third of the country years, military officers served as

heads of state (Figure 2.2). The political institutions of post-

independence Africa were thus authoritarian. For late-century

Africa, the consequence was an increased likelihood of politi-

cal disorder.

Throughout this chapter, I repeatedly draw illustrations

from Zambia’s political history. Box 3.1 provides a synopsis,

to which the reader may refer while seeking to master the sev-

eral narratives. Map 3.1 outlines the boundaries of Zambia’s

provinces, whose political leaders jockeyed for top positions

in the ruling party and national government.

The Incumbent’s Dilemma

When colonial regimes departed from Africa, they orchestrated

their retreat by holding elections and exiting midst the polit-

ical din. While competitors for office championed the cause

of independence and denounced the evils of colonialism, a

notable feature of their campaigns was the stress they placed

on seizing the “fruits of independence.”

In a careful study of the city of Abidjan, Michael Cohen

(1974) explores the use of power in Cote d’Ivoire. Rural back-

ers of the ruling party, he noted, used their political connec-

tions to move from provincial towns to the national capital

(Cohen 1974). Some had been appointed to the boards of state-

owned corporations, which produced “palm oil, hardwood,

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Political Legacies

Box 3.1. Political highlights, post-independence Zambia

– Zambia achieved independence in 1964, with the UNIP (the United National Independence Party) as the governing party and ANC (the African National Congress) as the opposition.

– High office in the governing party translated into high posts in the gov- ernment. Kenneth David Kaunda, president of UNIP, became presi- dent of Zambia as well, and Reuben Kamanga, a politician from the Eastern Province and vice president of UNIP, served also as vice president of Zambia.

– In 1967, UNIP held internal party elections. A Bemba-speaking bloc captured a majority of the seats in the Central Committee of the ruling party and Simon Kapwepwe, a Bemba-speaker from Northern Province, displaced Reuben Kamanga as vice president.

– In the subsequent general election, Barotse Province (also known as Western Province) joined the Central and Southern provinces in support of ANC.

– In 1969, the president dissolved the quarrelsome Central Committee of UNIP, Eastern Province politicians resumed their posts, and Reuben Kamanga returned as vice president.

– In 1971, the Bemba-speaking politicians, led by Simon Kapwepwe, defected from UNIP, the ruling party, and joined the opposition.

rubber . . . and construction equipment” (ibid., pp. 24–5). Oth-

ers received prized plots of land in the low-density town-

ships, where they built homes, and in the high-density areas,

where they constructed new enterprises. As they worked their

way up the political hierarchy, Cohen writes, the backers of

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Sowing the Seeds

Map 3.1. Provinces of Zambia. Note: Ndola is the capital of the

Copperbelt. Source: www.answers.com/topic/ZM-Provinces.png.

the ruling party achieved even more desirable addresses.

“[A]dministrative and political control of urban land conces-

sions . . . turns out to be an extraordinarily sensitive measure

of political status within the ruling class,” he writes: “Admin-

istrative appointments or promotions are often accompanied

by approval of an individual’s application for land. . . . ” (ibid.,

pp. 44–5). Cohen concludes with a depiction of a housing pyra-

mid, in which the “ministers live in luxurious European-style

villas” (p. 47) while their subordinates dwelt in “smaller but

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Political Legacies

very luxurious homes in Cocody,” a prosperous suburb (p. 48).

To the powerful, he writes, went the rewards: “[T]he winning

coalition” used its power to achieve “wealth and position . . . ”

(p. 6).

Cote d’Ivoire achieved independence in 1960; Zimbabwe,

two decades later. As documented by Norma Kriger (2003),

freedom fighters, political organizers, and rank-and-file mem-

bers of Zimbabwe’s ruling party began agitating for the rewards

of independence. Under intense political pressure from the

ruling party, the Ministry of Home Affairs hired 3,500 freedom

fighters; the Ministry of Local Government, 2,600 more. The

Ministry of Health had to sign on 2,000 and the Central Intelli-

gence Organization more than 1,000 (ibid., p. 178). Once they

secured jobs, Kriger writes, the militants agitated for additional

benefits: compensation for losses incurred during the strug-

gle for independence, pensions, loans, and land. The political

movement that seized the state thus subsequently “built a vio-

lent and extractive political order” (ibid., p. 5), as the victors

continued to agitate for the fruits of independence.

The pattern has been documented for socialist Zambia

(Szeftel 1978) as well as capitalist Nigeria (Schatz 1977). As

described by Dumont (1962) and Fanon (1963), independence

represented the capture of the state by local political elites who

then used power to accumulate wealth.

The ambitions of the elites was equaled by the aspirations

of the electorate. Thus Barkan, in his study of elections in

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Sowing the Seeds

post-independence Kenya (1976, 1986); Hayward and Kandeh,

in their study of Sierra Leone (1987); and Hayward, when he

turned to the study of Ghana (1976), report that constituents

viewed politicians as their agents whose job it was to bring

material benefits to the local community – jobs, loans, or cash.

Those in Kenya, Barkan notes, stoked the fires of political ambi-

tion, inciting candidates to bid for political support by con-

tributing funds for the construction of local projects (Barkan

1976). The result, as Allen writes of Benin, was “the exchange

of blocs of votes . . . for valued goods. . . . ” (1989, p. 22). Com-

petitive elections came to resemble a political marketplace, in

which votes were exchanged for material benefits.

Analysis

In 1983, Gerald Kramer (1983) explored the nature of political

competition in a world in which incumbents and challengers

compete by distributing material benefits.3 In his analysis, the

voters value private consumption and party labels and the

politicians control a fixed stock of material goods. In the com-

petition for votes, the incumbents move first: They distribute

benefits in a way designed to return to office, while preserving

as large a portion as possible for their own consumption. Once

3 See also Groseclose, T., and J. M. Snyder (1996), “Buying Supermajorities,” American Political Science Review 90(2): 303–15.

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Political Legacies

the governing party has proposed its allocation, the opposition

then responds with a counteroffer. In this competition, Kramer

asks, how will incumbents and challengers behave? How will

they play the game?

When seeking to unseat the incumbent and to do so at least

expense, Kramer argues, the challenger will bid for the support

of those who may be disadvantaged under the incumbent’s

rule. By offering slightly more than what the incumbent has

provided, the challenger can capture their votes and weaken

the incumbent’s coalition. He can then devote the rest of his

resources to obtaining the additional votes necessary to secure

a majority. The costs of this strategy will of course be higher the

greater the degree to which the voters identify with the party

in power.

Anticipating the strategy of the challenger, Kramer argues,

the incumbent’s best strategy will be to distribute benefits

widely. Should he fail to give a segment of the electorate bene-

fits equal to those enjoyed by others, then he simply will have

lowered the costs to the challenger of assembling a sufficient

number of votes to unseat him.4 The incumbent will therefore

distribute his resources uniformly across all members of the

electorate.

4 In addition, if he spends more on one segment of the electorate than upon others, he could lower his own costs – and increase the resources that he could retain for his own consumption – by reducing the differential.

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Sowing the Seeds

Turning to the voters, Kramer advances the argument an

additional step by asking: What if they were to behave stra-

tegically? What if they were to back political parties instru-

mentally, rather than out of an unreasoned sense of loyalty?

Behaving strategically, Kramer argues, the voters, in pursuit of

private benefits, would reduce their level of party loyalty. The

incumbent can purchase the votes of those who strongly iden-

tify with the ruling party relatively cheaply; the support of those

less loyal would command a higher price. As Kramer demon-

strates, when the voters learn to play the system to their advan-

tage they will then extract all the benefits on offer. Thus the

incumbent’s dilemma: Pursuing power to accumulate wealth,

they find themselves having to surrender their ill-gotten gains

to retain political office.

Did not the history of political competition in Zambia lend

support to Kramer’s argument, it would be easy to dismiss his

analysis as overstylized, abstract, and therefore divorced from

the realities of African politics.

The Example of Zambia

When Zambia became independent in 1964, it was governed

by UNIP (the United National Independence Party), which

had won majorities in all but Central and Southern provinces,

where the opposition ANC (the Africa National Congress)

held sway. In local council elections, legislative elections,

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Political Legacies

bi-elections, and general elections, the governing party relent-

lessly targeted the opposition’s bailiwick. In each round of the

elections, it flooded the two provinces with organizers, provid-

ing them with housing, running money, and access to petrol

from the government’s stores. Most relevant for this discus-

sion was the theme of the government’s campaigns: “It pays to

belong to UNIP.” From the government’s point of view, those

who supported the opposition had merely increased the price

of their political loyalty. By refurbishing schools, grading roads,

and distributing public monies through local development

agencies, the government vigorously bid for votes from the

heartland of the opposition.

Naturally, political leaders in other regions deciphered the

lesson to be drawn from the government’s efforts. Most rele-

vant is the response of those from Luapula, a province long

loyal to the governing party. While politicians from the North-

ern Province dominated the Central Committee and therefore

the cabinet as well, the government built a well-surfaced road,

a railway, and an oil pipeline through Northern Province to the

coast. Political leaders from Luapula Province began to feel

that their colleagues from Northern Province were reaping a

disproportion of the benefits from holding office. By lowering

the level of their loyalty to UNIP, the politicians from Luapula

reasoned, they could increase the price of their support for

the incumbent regime and secure a larger share of the spoils

(Bates 1976). The flirtation of the “Luapulaists” with defection

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Sowing the Seeds

adumbrated later revolts, as other regional blocs listed their

grievances and maneuvered to extract benefits from those in

power.

From the government’s point of view, the costs of retaining

office had risen. Threatened with additional provincial defec-

tions and thus with the loss of power, the president empan-

elled a commission to explore the electoral rules; he charged

the commission with enquiring into the merits of single-party

rule. As documented by Larmer (2006), the commission

solemnly convened hearings in each and every region. Having

heard testimony in favor and against the abolition of opposi-

tion parties, it sensibly performed the task for which it had in

fact been convened: It recommended that Zambia become a

one-party state.

While the case does not map as clearly onto the matrix of

Kramer’s model as does that of Zambia, the post-indepen-

dence politics of Benin suggests similar forces at play. “Re-

sources,” Allen writes (1989), “were necessarily limited, but ex-

pansion and retention of support implied an ever-increasing

pressure for allocation of resources. . . . ” (p. 25). The compe-

tition for support led to a twenty percent increase in public

employment and a forty percent increase in public expendi-

ture – all in the first five years of independence. But then the

government encountered a critical constraint: the unwilling-

ness of the central bank, which was controlled by France, to

underwrite further increases in spending. By the late 1960s,

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Political Legacies

Allen writes, it had become apparent to all that the system

based on the competitive supply of “pork” could no longer be

sustained (ibid.). The governing elite then put an end to elec-

toral competition.

As in Zambia, in Benin – and elsewhere – incumbents

formed single-party regimes. In other instances, and espe-

cially under military rulers, the incumbents formed no-party

systems. In the single-party regime, the cabinets were dom-

inated by top officials from the ruling party; in the no-party

system, the presidents formed cabinets as if picking a per-

sonal staff. In either case, in response to the crisis of clien-

telism, in Allen’s phrasing (Allen 1989), or to the high costs

of securing wealth from power, in the language of this study,

incumbents changed the structure of the political game. They

created authoritarian governments.

The New Political Game

Even after the banning of party competition, competitive polit-

ical forces remained, but they played out within the regime. It

was the head of state, rather than the voter, who now became

the object of competitive bidding, as minor apparatchiks jock-

eyed for recognition and competed for political favor and,

while doing so, marked down the price of their political loy-

alty. Political sycophancy replaced constituency service as the

best strategy for those with ambitions for office.

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Sowing the Seeds

Given the new structure of political competition, it was the

supplier rather than the demander of political favors who now

held the advantage. In the game of authoritarian politics, the

head of state controlled both access to material benefits and

control of the means of coercion. And it was to the chief exec-

utive that wealth and power now flowed.

In most African states, major financial institutions fell

under the control of the chief executive. Allen (1989) notes

that presidents in Francophone West Africa kept the ministry

of planning in their portfolios, not because they were com-

mitted to the formulation of development plans but rather

because these ministries received, and disbursed, foreign aid;

by controlling them, the president controlled a major source

of foreign exchange. In the case of Benin, he noted, the foreign

aid channeled through this ministry totaled $600 million in

1980–83 and “thus matched the size of the recurrent budget”

(Allen 1989, p. 52). In countries outside of the Francophone

zone, the president often controlled the central bank. Accord-

ing to Erwin Blumenthal,5 the national bank of Zaire main-

tained such accounts in Brussels, Paris, London, and New York

registered in the name of the national president (Blumenthal

1982).

5 Blumenthal had been dispatched by the International Monetary Fund to restructure and manage the finances of Zaire.

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Political Legacies

In addition to the financial bureaucracy, the president con-

trolled the means of coercion. Policing remains a national, not

a local, activity throughout most of Africa. The office of the

president oversaw the ministry of interior. The attorney gen-

eral, the official prosecutor for the state; the special branch;

and the prison system – in most countries, these agencies

lodged within the office of the president. In addition, the pres-

ident controlled special military forces, many organized to

suppress internal opposition rather than to defend against

external threats. Examples would include Robert Mugabe’s

Fifth Brigade, which unleashed a reign of terror in opposi-

tion areas within five years after independence, or Kwame

Nkrumah’s President’s Own Guard Regiment (POGR), some-

times referred to as his “private army” (Meredith 2005, p. 19).

Consider, too, the military units that reported to the president

of Zaire. Among them numbered:

A Civil Guard, commanded by his brother-in-law, Kpama

Baramoto;

A Special Research and Surveillance Brigade, commanded

by General Blaise Bolozi, also related to the President by

marriage;

A Special Action Forces, a paramilitary unit, commanded

by Honore Ngabanda Nzambo-ku-Atumba, a close aide

of Joseph Desire Mobutu and his chief of intelligence;

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Sowing the Seeds

and a Special Presidential Division, by all accounts the

most effective unit of them all, commanded by Gen-

eral Nzimbi Ngabale, also a “close relative” (Nzongola-

Ntalaja 2002, p. 154).

With control over wealth and the means of coercion,

authoritarian regimes were able to play a game that differed

from that played in the era of multiparty politics. As a mo-

nopoly supplier of political favors, the president could indi-

vidually tailor his political offers. Thus Kenneth Kaunda could

secure the loyalty of Mainza Chona at lower cost, given the

latter’s lack of a strong political base, than he could Simon

Kapwepe, who enjoyed a large following. Or Joseph Desire

Mobutu could recruit Barthelemy Bisegimana to serve as his

chief of staff at low cost, given the latter’s ambiguous standing

as a “citizen” of Rwandan extraction, but had to tolerate the

barbs and indulge (some of) the whims of Étienne Tshiesekedi

with his strong local backing (Nzongola-Ntalaja 2004). And

rather than having to allocate resources in a universalistic and

egalitarian manner, the chief executive could employ them to

assemble a team of just sufficient political weight for winning.

With control over the means of coercion, the president was

positioned to make take-it-or-leave-it offers; with control over

bounteous benefits and fearsome sanctions, he could prevent

efforts by others to collude. The winning coalition would there-

fore not be egalitarian and universalistic, but rather unequal

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Political Legacies

and minimum winning (Baron and Ferejohn 1989). And by

assembling a ruling coalition of small size, the president could

divert a larger portion of the “national pie” to his own bank

account.

The Shrinking Political Arena

In post-independence Africa, most states became authoritar-

ian (see Figures 2.2 and 2.4): Rather than having to distribute

benefits in a universalistic manner, incumbents could now

allocate them more narrowly, thereby retaining a greater por-

tion for themselves.

Once thus reconfigured, the political order appeared in-

creasingly to narrow; in the words of Kasfir (1976), in the 1970s,

it was “shrinking” in size.6 In search of resources to consume

and to expend in the pursuit of power, elites continued to en-

gage in extraction; their taxes were levied universally. But by

channeling benefits to those whom they favored, the elites

could offset the costs they inflicted upon those in whose loyalty

they sought to invest. The value of the (net) benefits would

increase as the number of clients declined, thus generating

incentives for the insiders to narrow the definition of what it

meant to be loyal.7 Incentives thus dictated a logic of exclusion.

6 The phrase is taken from Kasfir, N. (1976), The Shrinking Political Arena, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

7 This analysis draws upon Adam, C. S., and S. A. O’Connell (1999), “Aid, Taxation, and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Economics and

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Sowing the Seeds

The criterion for exclusion varied. Politicians often played

the nationality card: They thereby sought to exclude foreigners

from employment, as in Cote d’Ivoire (Cohen 1974), or from

ownership of land, as in Zaire (Lemarchand 2003; Nzongola-

Ntalaja 2004). In Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire, they invoked

national origins to discredit presidential candidates – Kenneth

Kaunda and Alassane Öutarra, respectively – arguing that they

had been born to immigrant parents.

Politicians also sought to restrict the benefits provided by

government to members of the ruling party. In single-party

states, those who were not members could not aspire to pub-

lic office or to a position in the public portion of the economy.

In Sierra Leone, Kpundeh records, clause 139 (3) of the cons-

titution of the ruling party provided that “no one can be

appointed or continue to be a permanent secretary ‘unless he

is a member of the recognized party’” that is, of the All People’s

Congress (APC), the governing party (Kpundeh 1995, p. 65). So,

too, in Zaire: When drafting the 1973 regulations for the ser-

vice, the civil service commissioner stated “special emphasis,

among the conditions required for recruitment, is placed on

party militancy and Zairian nationality” (Gould 1980, p. 67).

And in Senegal, Boone writes, “licenses were granted to the

Politics 11(3): 225–54; and Bueno de Mesquita, B., A. Smith, et al. (2003), The Logic of Political Survival, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. See also Kasara, K. (2007), “Tax Me If You Can,” American Political Science Review 101(1): 159–72.

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Political Legacies

bons militants of the UPS [the Senegalese Progressive Union,

the ruling political party]” (Boone 1990, as quoted in Tangri

1999, p. 75).

To achieve a deeper familiarity with the meaning of single-

party rule, I turn once again to the case of Zambia. After Pres-

ident Kaunda reinstated the Eastern Province politicians to

their posts in UNIP’s Central Committee (see Box 3.1), sev-

eral Bemba-speaking leaders defected and formed an oppo-

sition party. The government responded by filing trumped-

up charges of murder and assault and detained the dissident

leaders.

When Simon Kapwepwe, the Bemba-speaking vice presi-

dent, also defected from UNIP, the government realized that

it stood to lose political support in the Luapula, Northern, and

Copperbelt provinces – all dominated by Bemba-speakers –

and so it could be left in control of fewer than one-half of

the provinces in Zambia. The government therefore sought to

manipulate the electoral process. Seats in Parliament, it was

ruled, belonged to the party, not the person; and when a mem-

ber crossed the floor, her seat then became vacant, neces-

sitating a bi-election, which it contested vigorously and vio-

lently, supporting its candidates with the resources of the state.

The government also reverted to repression. When those who

defected from the ruling party sought reelection to Parliament,

they found their permits for meetings denied, their campaign

posters defaced, and their supporters intimidated by gangs

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Sowing the Seeds

of youths and squads of police. In January 1972, one such

gang assaulted Simon Kapwepwe. In February, the government

banned his party and rounded up and imprisoned more

than 100 of its leaders. Many were beaten, some were tortur-

ed, and, as already noted, Zambia became a one-party state

(Gertzel, Baylies et al. 1984; Larmer 2006).

Following the end of multiparty politics, membership in the

ruling party became a form of citizenship. In 1970, the Provin-

cial Conference of UNIP resolved that “the UNIP membership

card should be made a legal document for the purpose of iden-

tification and holders of the card should be given preferential

treatment over non-holders in such spheres as employment,

promotions, markets, loans, business, housing and all socio-

economic activities” (Larmer 2006, pp. 36–7). Ordinary people

could not board public transport, cross bridges or pontoons,

or transact in public markets without producing a party card.

Those with educations and finances could not hold director-

ships or posts in state industries, qualify for bursaries or loans,

or secure the kinds of positions to which they aspired: ones

with a housing allowance, a limousine, and opportunities for

travel abroad. By tightly circumscribing the range of poten-

tial political beneficiaries, Zambia’s political elite more tightly

restricted access to economic opportunities.

In some instances, the logic that drove the politics of exclu-

sion appears to have culminated in the formation of a truly

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Political Legacies

miniscule elite. In Rwanda, for example, President Juvenel

Habyarimana, close family members, and senior members of

the family of his wife dominated the financial ministries, the

security services, and the ruling party. That the word akasu, or

small house, came to refer to this group underlines the diminu-

tive size of the inner circle (Prunier 1998). In Kenya, Jomo

Kenyatta, his sons, his wives, and their relatives were referred

to as the “royal family.” Burundi was governed by a small group

from Bururi; Zaire by the “Ngbandi” clique from Equateur; and

Togo by the Kabye from Kara in the north.

To comprehend the capacity of such small groups to remain

in power, it is useful to recall that the security services in

Kenya were headed by the president’s in-law; that Equateur,

Bururi, and Kara provided the military elite in Zaire, Burundi,

and Togo, respectively; and that the akasu headed a security

apparatus that in April 1994 proved capable of killing 800,000

Rwandans.

The restructuring of African political institutions thus trig-

gered a logic of exclusion, resulting in political privilege and

economic inequality. Implicit in these transformations lay as

well the strengthening of incentives for political elites to deal

in private rather than public goods.

Consider a district of 20,000 people, each expecting “his”

or “her” politician to provide one dollar in benefits. The crea-

tion of one public good, producing a dollar’s worth of benefits

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Sowing the Seeds

for each resident, would be likely to cost less than the placing

of a dollar in the pocket of each resident. In general, as the

number of persons who claim benefits from the political elite

rises, the cost advantage to politicians of providing benefits in

the form of public rather than private goods increases as well.

As Africa’s political elite restricted the scope of those entitled

to the benefits of independence, this advantage declined. The

shrinking of the political arena thus led to a reduction in the

incentives for those who sought positions of power to reward

their followers with public goods. Private benefits drove out

public goods as the coin of the political realm.8

Conclusion

In this chapter, I have argued that searching for wealth and

power, political elites reconfigured African political institu-

tions, transforming them from multi- to single- or no-party sys-

tems or replacing civilian governments with military regimes.

They also narrowed the range of those entitled to political ben-

efits. Rather than political independence serving the collec-

tive welfare, then, it instead conferred narrowly circumscribed

privileges upon those who won out in the competition for polit-

ical office.

8 This analysis builds upon Adam, C. S., and S. A. O’Connell (1999), “Aid, Taxation, and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Economics and Poli- tics 11(3): 225–54; and Bueno de Mesquita, B., A. Smith, et al. (2003), The Logic of Political Survival, Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.

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Political Legacies

During the struggle for independence, Africa’s citizens

had embraced politics. In response to the political realities

about them, however, in the post-independence era, they

increasingly came to view their leaders as a source of insecurity

and the state as a source of threat rather than of well-being.

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4

Policy Choices

Focusing on the determinants of economic growth in thepost-independence period, researchers from the Africa Economic Research Consortium (AERC) isolated a set of “anti-

growth” syndromes: styles of policymaking that reduce the rate

at which national economies could grow (Ndulu, Collier et al.

2007). Most common is the combination of policies that they

designate as “control regimes,” which led to:

1. A closed economy.

2. The distortion of key prices in the macroeconomy.

3. The promotion and regulation of industries.

4. The regulation of markets.

In this chapter, I shall describe these policies and discuss

their origins and their consequences. Control regimes are eco-

nomically costly, and I shall explain why incumbents nonethe-

less retained them, even after their costs were known. The

reason, I argue, is that the policies generated political ben-

efits for Africa’s authoritarian regimes. They provided elites

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Sowing the Seeds

with sources of income and furnished means for transform-

ing even declining economies into political organizations,

enabling politicians to recruit political dependents, willing to

fight – if necessary – to keep them in power. While yielding

political advantages, however, these policies contributed to

the subsequent collapse of Africa’s states.

The Content of Control Regimes

As reported by the AERC researchers, governments that adopt

control regimes regulate trade, manipulate the interest and

exchange rates, and develop close ties with urban-based

industries.

The Control of Trade

In the post-independence period, governments imposed tar-

iffs and quantitative controls on a wide range of industrial pro-

ducts. To sell their goods in Africa’s markets, foreign firms then

had to “jump over” these barriers and to invest in the plant and

equipment that would enable them to produce and thus mar-

ket their goods locally. These policies most frequently targeted

the goods most commonly consumed by the residents of poor

societies: processed foods, beverages, textiles, shoes, blankets,

kerosene, and other consumer products. In at least one case,

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Policy Choices

Zambia, the government severely restricted the importation of

automobiles; and for a brief and inglorious moment, automo-

biles were produced in Livingstone, a small urban center on

the southern border of the country (Elliott 1971).

Macroeconomic Policies

Given the low level of industrialization, investors wishing to

establish new firms had to import plant and equipment from

abroad. To lower the costs of such investments, governments

restructured financial markets. Creating banks that targeted

“commerce,” “industry,” or more broadly “development,” they

made available loans at low rates of interest to those seeking

to invest in projects to which they accorded a high priority.

Outside of the Franc zone, they issued their own currencies.

Many then employed their control over the banking system to

set the rate at which this currency could be exchanged for cur-

rencies from abroad. By overvaluing their currency, they set

the exchange rate to the advantage of importers: Because they

could purchase foreign “dollars” more cheaply, those seeking

to invest in local industry could then import plant and equip-

ment at lower cost. Trade barriers having already been set in

place, their goods remained protected against foreign compe-

tition, whose products would have gained a price advantage

as a result of the revaluation of the local currency.

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Sowing the Seeds

Industrial Regulation

Governments that implemented control regimes also imple-

mented regulatory policies that enhanced the profitability

of firms. By licensing, they discouraged entry and protected

established producers. When governments themselves owned

firms, the governments were certain to prevent new firms

from competing with established producers; public enter-

prises then remained as the monopoly suppliers of their prod-

ucts. Moreover, because governments subsidized the costs of

capital, many firms adopted capital-intensive technologies;

they then tended to operate most profitably when producing

near full capacity. Because the protected markets of Africa were

small, the result was the creation of highly concentrated indus-

tries, with but one or two large firms in each, with firms operat-

ing at low capacity and therefore at high cost. But because the

noncompetitive structure of the domestic market conferred

on firms the power to set prices, they could remain privately

profitable, even while highly inefficient.

The Incidence of Costs and Benefits

When governments artificially increased the value of their cur-

rencies, the benefits that they conferred upon the importers

of capital equipment were matched by the costs they inflicted

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Policy Choices

on exporters. When foreign dollars converted into fewer cedi

(the unit of currency of Ghana), or other African currencies,

exporters experienced a reduction in their incomes. In Africa’s

agrarian economies, most exporters were farmers, who pro-

duced coffee, cocoa, sugar, cotton, sisal, and other crops for

foreign markets. When governments artificially increased the

value of their currencies, they may have protected the prof-

its of industrial firms by imposing tariffs and quantitative

restrictions on imports, but they rarely offered similar pro-

tection to farmers. Producers of rice in West Africa therefore

found themselves competing in local markets with imports

from Louisiana, and producers of cassava in Central Africa

faced competition from bakers advantaged by the low costs of

imported wheat. Trade policies were thus biased against the

exporters of cash crops and the producers of food crops as

well.

When governments regulated urban industries, they pro-

tected the profits of urban firms: By limiting competition,

they granted them the power to set prices to their advantage.

When governments regulated agriculture, they conferred mar-

ket power on consumers: They created monopsonies for the

purchase of both export and food crops. Governments pur-

chased the cash crops at a low domestic price, sold them at

the prices prevailing in international markets, and deposited

the difference in the public treasury. They purchased the food

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Sowing the Seeds

crops at prices set to ensure that soldiers, bureaucrats, and

urban workers would be assured of low cost food.

In the 1960s, the majority of Africa’s population lived in

the rural areas and agriculture constituted the largest single

industry. The policies thus favored the interests of a minority

over those of the vast majority of the population in most states.

As noted by Dumont (1966), “In May 1961 a number of farmers

north of Brazzaville said to me: ‘Independence isn’t for us; it’s

only for the city people’” (p. 17). It was precisely this property

of post-independence policies that Dumont condemned.

Control regimes thus benefited the urban and industrial

sector; indeed, given the aspiration for industrial development

that motivated many policymakers, this was their intent. But

they did so at the expense of the great majority of Africa’s pop-

ulation – those who lived in the rural areas – and the greatest

of Africa’s industries – agriculture.

For these policies to persist, opposition to them had to be

demobilized. The most likely opponents would be farmers;

and because they constituted a political majority, the farmers

were dangerous. The political commitment to control regimes

could persist, then, only insofar as political challengers

lacked an incentive to pursue electoral majorities. Authoritar-

ian institutions thus underpinned the imposition of control

regimes.

The relationship between political institutions and public

policies is captured by the data in Figures 4.1 and 4.2.

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Policy Choices

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

Military Civilian All

P er

ce n

t O

b se

rv at

io n

s

Percent Control Regimes

Figure 4.1. Control regimes and military government.

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

No-Party One-Party Multiparty All

P er

ce n

t O

b se

rv at

io n

s

Percent Control Regimes

Figure 4.2. Control regimes and party system.

As indicated in Figure 4.1, military governments were far

more likely than civilian ones to adopt control regimes. From

the period 1970–1995, in more than 50% of the country years,

if the data registered the presence of military regimes, they

registered the presence of control regimes as well. As shown

in Figure 4.2, one- and no-party regimes were also more likely

to adopt control regimes, with more than 50% of the observa-

tions that centered on no- or single- party systems exhibiting

control regimes as well, as compared with but 30% of those

with multiparty systems. In this study, I label as authoritarian

governments that are headed by soldiers rather than civilians

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Sowing the Seeds

and those civilian regimes that have banned the formation of

opposition parties. The data thus suggest an elective affinity

between authoritarian politics and interventionist policies in

the post-independence period.1

Economic Costs and Political Benefits

Given that agriculture is the largest single industry in most

African countries, it is not surprising that the economies of

countries that imposed control regimes appear to have grown

more slowly than others. The AERC research team measured

the economic impact of four major “anti-growth” syndromes

(Ndulu, Collier et al. 2007). The first was state failure. Next

came “inter-temporal redistribution,” which most commonly

occurred when governments would consume rather than save

the proceeds of resource booms. A third was ethnic or regional

redistribution, when governments became the political agents

of subnational minorities. The fourth was the adoption of con-

trol regimes.

Controlling for a variety of factors that might affect growth –

the growth rate of trading partners, for example – and

1 See, too, the Appendix. Turn as well to Chapters 4 and 11 of the first vol- ume of Ndulu, B., P. Collier, et al. (2007), The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960–2000, 2 vols, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Univer- sity Press.

 
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