89 Africa's illiberal state-builders
Authors: Will Jones, Dr Ricardo Soares de Oliveira and Dr Harry Verhoeven
Publication date: January 2013
The African state has long been at the centre of debates among scholars and policymakers, whether in trying to explain the broken postcolonial dreams of inclusive development, the surge in violent conflict in the 1990s, or Africa’s troubled engagement with the outside world.
Since the early 1990s, three paradigms on the trajectory of the African state have competed for academic and policy pre-eminence: the liberal convergance paradigm which portrays African states marching inexorably towards a bright future; the ‘failed state’ paradigm which understands African states not in terms of what they are, but what they fail to be; and a third ‘neo-patrimonial’ paradigm which highlights the neo-patrimonial management strategies of elites and the attempted stabilisation of the polity through temporary alliances, ethnic coalition-building and the cynical manipulation of electoral systems and federalism.
This paper argues that between the liberal convergence paradigm, the failed state narrative and neopatrimonial seamanship, important experiences that fit none of these remain unexamined. Yet the existence of alternative agendas appearing out of the ashes of war in places like Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Angola is part of a major emerging mode of illiberal state-building.
This paper unpacks illiberal state-building projects in three parts. It begins with a discussion of how these regimes think politically. Subsequently, the analysis moves to the neo-developmentalist model of political economy that is embraced by Africa’s illiberal state-builders. Thirdly the paper examines the new relationship with the outside world sought by these regimes.
Download here: wp89-africas-illiberal-state-builders-160113.pdf