P069 – Growing Anarchy or the Emergence of a New Political Order: Shadow Governance and Collective Violence in Africa
8 July, 14:00 – 15:30

Rolandsen Øystein H. / Peace Research Institute Oslo
Pratten David / University of Oxford


Discussant: Will Reno, Northwestern University

Africa’s overall economic growth is distributed unevenly and is in many places overshadowed by poverty and an ever-weakening central government. Criminal gangs, militias, vigilante groups and community protection forces proliferate. Outsiders see these groups as destructive, but their roles vis-à-vis local communities and government agencies are ambiguous and complex. Research has revealed considerable heterogeneity in these groups’ background, raison d’être, and organisation. Such groups represent a diversification, decentralisation and outsourcing of, inter alia, court functions, policing, border management, counter-insurgency and warfare. These roles are rooted in tacit agreements and informal social contracts associated with governance vacuums. However, there are often connections between these twilight groups and the formal political system where politicians and state actors consider these groups as instrumental. Instead of being regarded as outcasts and societal parasites, these informal collectives with their capacity to channel and carry out collective violence – are embedded in society and a part of the African political reality. By presenting research in progress related to the diversity and extent of shadow governance in Africa, this panel is contributing to the agenda of the PRIO led project “Dynamics of State Failure and Violence”.

Anarchie croissante ou émergence d’un nouvel ordre politique: gouvernance de l’ombre et violence collective en Afrique

La croissance économique en Afrique est inégalement distribuée et est, par ailleurs, souvent éclipsée par la pauvreté et par des gouvernements sans cesse affaiblis. Les gangs criminels, milices et forces de protection locales prolifèrent. Ces groupes sont souvent perçus comme des forces de destruction, d’instabilité et de chaos, mais leur rôle vis-à-vis des communautés locales et des agences gouvernementales sont ambigus et complexes. Les recherches académiques sur la question ont révélé une grande hétérogénéité quant à la genèse, la raison d’être, et le mode de fonctionnement de ces groupes. Ceux-ci participent de la diversification, la décentralisation, et la privatisation, entre autre, des institutions judiciaires, des fonctions de police, du contrôle des frontières, de la contre-insurrection, ou encore de la conduite de la guerre. Ces différents rôles se basent sur des accords tacites et des contrats sociaux informels souvent associés à des vides de gouvernance. Il existe cependant souvent des connexions entre ces types de groupes et les systèmes politiques formels dans lesquels les acteurs étatiques considèrent ces groupes comme jouant un rôle clé. Ces groupes informels, avec leur capacité à canaliser et mettre en œuvre la violence collective, ne doivent donc pas être considérés comme des acteurs parasites mais bien comme ancrés dans les sociétés et faisant partie intégrante de nombreuses réalités politiques africaines. En présentant des recherches en cours sur la diversité et l’étendue de la gouvernance de l’ombre en Afrique, ce panel contribue à l’agenda du projet coordonné par PRIO sur les “Dynamiques de la faillite des États et de la Violence”.

Paper 1

Jentzsch Corinna / Leiden University

The Diffusion of Militias in Civil Wars: Peasant Resistance to Wartime Violence in Post-Independence Mozambique

Civil war, violence and insecurity often give rise to new wartime forms of order and security. This paper focuses on a particular type of such order in civil wars: the formation of peasant militias to resist wartime violence. In particular, I analyze the formation and diffusion of peasant militias during the post-independence war in Mozambique (1976-1992). The “Naparama,” as the militia was known, was created by a traditional healer, recruited within a short amount of time a large number of followers and successfully drove back the rebel group Renamo. I seek to explain why, given that much of the population faced violence and insecurity during the war, militias formed in some districts, but not in others. Based on a comparison of Naparama militias in two adjacent districts, I argue that militias successfully spread to those districts in which militia mobilization was based on ideas and practices that resonated with local communities and in which the emerging militia engaged in successful cooperation with the local state and security apparatus. The analysis draws on empirical evidence from oral histories and archival research during a year of fieldwork in Zambézia and Nampula provinces in Mozambique. The findings have implications for theories of political order and governance during and beyond civil wars.

Paper 2

Pendle Naomi / London School of Economics and Political Science

The “Niggers” of the Bentiu (South Sudan): Constructing public authority and avoiding co-option by the state in a context of violence, uncertainty and state plurality

Youth gangs, referring to themselves as “Niggers”, have emerged in urban centres across South Sudan. The latest reconstruction of the “Niggers” is taking form in the Bentiu UN Protection of Civilian site (POC). After the eruption of violence in the Western Nuer in late 2013, many people fled to the POC. At the start of 2015, over 40,000 people continue to live in this new, enclosed urban centre. While the South Sudanese landscape often appears to be a vacuum of state governance, the landscape is even less clear in the POC; there is a plurality of state-like actors that include the government, the SPLA-IO and the incomprehensible foreign force of the UN peacekeepers. In this environment of uncertainty, ambiguity and violence, the “Niggers” are part of the emerging twilight institutions that have authority over life in the POC. The “Niggers” in the POC are often associated with criminality, yet they are also still incorporated in Nuer social idioms of collective responsibility. The current warring parties of South Sudan have constructed parts of their forces from local, twilight institutions, previously described in criminal terms, such as the White Armies and the Dut ku Beny. This paper will consider how the “Niggers” are negotiating their public authority in the Bentiu POC, as well as discuss how they are attempting to avoid co-option into the warring parties. This paper is based on ongoing ethnographic research in the Bentiu POC and amongst the Western Nuer.

Paper 3

Otiso Wycliffe / LAM-UPPA

Community Policing and Vigilantism in Kenya: Emergence of Nonviolent and Inclusive Non-State Policing

The study analyzes the changing nature of policing strategies as undertaken by vigilante groups, such as Sungusungu and community policing initiatives in south western Kenya. It examines the shift in mobilization of society’s involvement in self-help policing of order, through inclusive, non-violent and democratic approaches. The changing nature of policing in Kisii County in the south western part of Kenya points to emergence of inclusive, nonviolent approaches to community policing shaped by local mobilization. Maintenance of order by non-state groups in Kisii county has been associated with violence and crime, but in 2010, a new constitutional order was adopted laying a framework for new governance structures and consolidation of democracy. Later that year, the Prohibition of Organized Crime Act was enacted banning activities of armed groups implicated in crime and violence. Sungusungu’s participation in the 2013 general elections signal a shift where youth groups known for employing intimidation in mediating political differences abandon their patronage networks and instrumentalization of violence and instead opted for direct non-violent participation in elections. The case of Kisii County thus exemplifies how local conceptions and applications of democratic ideals has positive impact on the policing environment.

Paper 4

Day Christopher / College of Charleston

Warlords Rule : The Central African Republic

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