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State Constitutions and Governments without Essence in Post-Independence Africa

Governance along a Failure-Success Continuum with Illustrations from Benin, Cameroon and the DRC

Joy Alemazung

This book in a diagnostic approach looks at the problems plaguing Africa, a continent rich in human and natural resources yet the poorest in the world. The main question is: what is the purpose of government in Africa? As illustrated by different empirical examples, the study argues that the creation of states and governments after colonialism was a «false start» and was not impacted by the social contract principle of men forming government to preserve the common good. The result is a leadership culture of government against the people with weak institutions in favour of strong autocratic rulers. The core of this study is a solution seeking approach with alternative political forms.


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Chapter Two: Political transformations since independence: the false start and governance problems


Chapter Two Political transformations since independence: the false start and governance problems This chapter begins with history. Nevertheless, despite its historical focus it is far from being a narration of history but more accurately a review and examina- tion of the effects of the past on the present. In this chapter, history’s occur- rences and development are used as the key to understanding present failures and difficulties faced by African states—the causes and consequences of the “false take-off” (Dumont 1966). It begins with independence and the political setting that was established at independence, laying a path that led to deviation from preserving the common good of the society—life, liberty and property. The false take-off or false start is a major focus in this chapter with an analysis of how the governments established during independence lost their essence, be- came worthless and even harmful to the extent that some states have become dysfunctional, and failed states (see Cote Ivoire, Zimbabwe), or collapsed states ( Somalia, Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo) (see Rotberg 2004). The take-off of African states is conceived as a whole failure due to the his- torical framework in which it took place, and failure finds its way into the sub- sequent political developments because of an imposing colonial-historical politi- cal order and structure. Historical framework and colonial systems resulted in the establishment of an administrative bourgeoisie: that is, post-independent government had overburdened administration (large administrative service con- suming up to 60% of state budgets) with very...

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