ISBN: 1592216692

Unable to cope with the changing international political climate of the late 1980s/early 1990s following the end of the Cold-War, dictatorial regimes in Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Zaire, and various other African countries including the Apartheid regime in South Africa were either forced out of power disgracefully or collapsed entirely, having failed to respond to popular demand for benevolent leadership. Subsequently, the African political landscape was liberalized to allow political parties to compete for power and multiparty elections were held in various regions of the continent. Beginning in the mid-1990s, however, there began a drift away from decentralization towards concentration of power in the hands of a few ruling elites. Elections became mere theatrical displays of multiparty politics which did not reflect any real meaningful popular participation from the electorates, most of which were neither held regularly nor freely and fairly. With the sole exception of Eritrea, African governments had in general adopted democratic constitutions designed to ensure the principle of the separation of powers to curtail the excesses of the executive branch and provide checks and balances against tyrannical rule. And yet, most legislative houses in Africa became constituted mainly by political loyalists to ruling parties failing to serve as custodians of their constituents interests. As a result, well-connected political parties often appropriated total power leaving opposition parties completely marginalized, and by the same token, diminishing the peoples latitude of tolerance to political repression and economic disenfranchisement. While deregulation of the African political and economic marketplaces may have given a false sense of hope that Africa was on-track towards democracy and development, there were numerous instances where political and ethnic minority elites employed brute force and exploited traditional (informal) institutions as political instruments for the consolidation of elective dictatorship. These paradoxical post-Cold War political phenomena are vividly illustrated in several African countries and, particularly, in present-day Ethiopia where political dissent is increasingly suppressed and political loyalty is unduly rewarded. In the final analysis, one has to ask what led to the turn around from a promising democratic dispensation to a blatant dictatorship in virtually every region of the continent. To what extent are the ruling elites in Africa and, particularly, in Ethiopia committed to the principles and practices of fair participation in politics? And how do these evolving trends of elective dictatorship symbiotically connect to the erosion of trust and public confidence in African governments? Under these conditions of ever diminishing levels of public trust a critical component of social capital to what degree would African societies be able to resolve conflicts peacefully, advance economically, and develop politically? What are the long-term implications of disingenuous subscriptions to multiparty democracy and dubious and misguided adoption of free-market economic principles? Using exploratory research methods and systems theory, this book closely examines the interactions between elective dictatorship and the erosion of social capital, the legitimacy of the state, and the perception of the public toward multiparty politics in Africa and, particularly in Ethiopia. One of the main arguments of the author is that the dynamic interactions between these forces make it difficult, if not impossible, to realize socioeconomic objectives and bring about durable democracy in Africa. Even those policies formulated with the best of intentions may not achieve their objectives if the state is widely perceived as illegitimate and if the public is denied meaningful opportunities of participatin

Product details

  • Publisher : Africa World Press, Inc.; First edition (April 6, 2009)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 354 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1592216692
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1592216697
  • Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
  • Dimensions : 5.98 x 0.87 x 8.9 inches
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