Report : Citizenship, Agency and Deliberative Democracy in Five SADC Countries

Citizenship, Agency and Deliberative Democracy in Five SADC Countries

Four years ago, RAU examined the propensity for violence in the SADC countries currently governed by former Liberation Movements (RAU 2016). Using the Armed Conflict Local Event Data (ACLED) database, the study looked at the frequency of reported violent events between 1997 and 2014, in five countries – Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe emerged as the most violent of the five countries, followed by South Africa and Angola: reports on Zimbabwe accounted for 37% of all reported violence on the ACLED database. South Africa accounted for 33% and Angola for 22%. There were marked differences between these countries, however, and most violence in South Africa was described as  “riots”, whilst, for Zimbabwe, it was violence against civilians. Elections for all the five countries saw appreciable levels of violent events, with Zimbabwe (46%) and Mozambique (42%) the worst. We concluded, as have many others (Southall 2013; Clapham 2012; Bratton & Masunungure 2011; Dorman 2007; Melber  2010; Ronning 2010), that liberation movements have an unhealthy propensity for violence in pursuit of maintaining political power.

These five countries, all SADC members, are the most recent African countries to attain full independence from colonial powers or settler populations. Most other SADC countries have been independent for at least five decades, and mostly in a peaceful transfer of power from the colonial power, and mostly from Britain. Does this make a difference to the kinds of politics in these older countries, even though very few have seen any form of electoral alternation in political power and governments? Roger Southall, in his masterly analysis of three former liberation movements in power currently – the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO), and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU-PF) – concludes (broadly) that only Namibia seems to be making the change from a liberation movement to a modern political party (Southall. 2013). He is equivocal about South Africa but argues that Zimbabwe, under ZANU-PF, is wholly unreconstructed from the ideology and strategy of a liberation movement.


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