P079 – Limits to Democratic Transitions in Southern Africa. Collective Mobilisation under Former Liberation Movements
9 July, 09:00 – 10:30

Pallotti Arrigo / University of Bologna
Melber Henning / Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation


The panel is exploring the political transitions in former settler colonies of Southern Africa. Since the Independence of Angola (1974), Mozambique (1975), Zimbabwe (1980), Namibia (1990) and the first general elections in South Africa (1994), the former liberations movements maintained political power and control over their societies. We would like to explore the general theoretical connotations for transitions under former liberation movements as governments and also explore the achievements and limitations by means of specific case studies.
To which extent has the transition to sovereign rule under an elected government in each of the cases provided room and scope for democratic development and where have been the limits to liberation? The panel seeks to add perspectives to the growing debate over the role of these governments and their forms of mobilisation for continued support of their dominance.

Les limites des transitions démocratiques en Afrique australe : les mobilisations collectives sous l’égide des anciens mouvements de libération
Ce panel va traiter des transitions politiques dans les anciennes colonies des “settlers” de l’Afrique australe. Depuis l’indépendance de l’Angola (1974), du Mozambique (1975), du Zimbabwe (1980), de la Namibie (1990) et les premières élections générales en Afrique du Sud (1994), les anciens mouvements de libération ont maintenu le pouvoir et le contrôle politique sur les sociétés. Dans le panel explorera les connotations théoriques générales des transitions sous l’égide des anciens mouvements de libération qui représentent les gouvernements actuels, en explorant les réalisations et les limites à travers des études de cas.
En quel mesure la transition vers un régime souverain avec des gouvernements élus dans chacun des cas a donné espace et opportunités pour le développement démocratique et quels ont été les limites à la libération? Le panel va donner des nouvelles perspectives au débat en cours sur le rôle de ces gouvernements et leurs formes de mobilisation pour la poursuite du soutien à leur domination.


Paper 1

Southall Roger / University of the Witwatersrand

Class, Social Mobility and Education in the ANC’s South Africa

Education is intimately related to social class. In Weberian terms, ‘life chances’ are heavily dependent upon the quality and level of education that individuals receive, and the qualifications that they obtain. Elites use wealth and influence to gain access for their children to privileged schools and high ranking universities, not only because of the status these confer, but because they generally offer a ‘better’ education than is available in less well-endowed segments of the educational system. In this paper, the author will explore how the transformations in the educational system initiated by the African National Congress have facilitated the expansion and upward social mobility of the black middle class. It will argue that although the formerly ‘white’ educational (both public and private) has now been opened up to blacks, enabling rapid upward mobility (particularly in urban areas), there are strong continuities in the manner in which advantaged schools provide the foundations for class privilege in South African society.

Paper 2

Melber Henning / Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation

Kromrey Daniela / University of Konstanz

Namibia: The Changing of the Guard

This paper traces the personal continuities and modifications within the ranks of the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO of Namibia) under its hegemonic political rule since Independence in 1990 by exploring the composition of the Cabinet ever since then. The hypothesis is that the “struggle credentials” have remained an important if not decisive factor for the access to influential political offices in government and shaped to a large extent the formation of the political will inside the party. But the dominant first generation of Swapo Party activists is gradually phased out and replaced for simply biological reasons, despite features of a gerontocracy existing. It is hence of interest to see which qualifications have possibly contributed to the next generation of political leaders emerging. We thereby seek to explore by which means and through which mechanisms individual political careers as well as the overwhelming recognition of the party through the electorate is influenced and characterized. This will be an empirically based case study contributing to an ongoing but so far rather abstract debate on the role and function of liberation movements as governments in the post-settler-colonial Southern African region.

Paper 3

Sumich Jason / Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin

Housing Policy and the Limits of Democratization in Maputo, Mozambique

In this presentation I explore the limits of democratization through an examination of government housing policy in the city centre of Maputo, Mozambique from independence in 1975 to the present. I argue that housing policy has long been a central element in state efforts of urban social engineering and symbolic of such efforts’ many failures. Such policies from the distribution of the flats of the former colonialists in the city centre after independence to the mass give away of the housing stock to encourage the growth of a middle class and a real estate market following the abandonment of socialism in 1989 provide a window to the contradictions of the dominant system of the time. In the following we shall discuss the unspoken assumptions concerning the nature of the population that underlay official policy and the ways in which people accommodated, challenged or circumvented these policies. By doing so, I hope to shed light on the unexpected consequences of housing policy on urban life, from the elitism of socialism to the exclusion of multiparty capitalism in Mozambique and Africa more generally.

Paper 4

Booysen Susan / University of the Witwatersrand

The African National Congress in perpetual liberation mode: Reincarnating, reinventing and replacing liberation

Twenty years into democracy Africa’s oldest liberation party, the African National Congress (ANC), remains firmly in control of South African politics. Despite decline there is no evidence of imminent collapse. Drawing on the author’s recent research, the paper explores the ANC’s repertoire to bolster its post-liberation power. The paper reviews six such lines of mobilisation. First, the ANC continuously reinvents the liberation struggle. All current actions are presented as furthering this long-term ANC quest. Second, the ANC expands its ‘Good story’ of delivery. It fosters indelible ANC liberation project ownership. Third, while the ANC maintains links with existing capital, it builds alliances with emerging business classes. The links become strategic sources of reciprocal party funding. Fourth, the ANC is often the sole disseminator of opportunities, controlling public positions, resources and agendas. This creates a base of post-liberation transactional affiliation with the ANC. Fifth, weak as the ANC may often appear opposition parties remain more vulnerable than the liberation party. Finally, the ANC builds community networks through street committees and establishes direct interfaces with sympathisers, unmediated by public institutions and mass media. Through these six main strategies the ANC leaves little to chance in prolonging its hold on political power, even if it is confined by the constitution and rules of multiparty democracy.

Paper 5

Moore David / University of Johannesburg

Democratic Zig-Zags in Zimbabwe and Beyond: towards the next stage?

Zimbabwe’s entrance onto the multi-party democratic road in 1999 was around a decade after the post-Cold War romance with liberal democracy in Africa began (again). The mid-2013 election marked this road’s dead-end in Zimbabwe. This has occurred simultaneously with disenchantment with liberal democracy across all Africa: twenty-five years of democracy promotion by exporters and advocacy and action by ‘importers’ has met an impasse. This paper will compare and contrast Zimbabwean democrats’ recent history of attempting to create political space with those of other African attempts with the intent of putting forth some propositions for the next ‘stage’ (to borrow, with variations in mind, some of the verbiage of the ‘national democratic revolution’).

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