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Civil society has been a central force in political and economic reforms. The
activities and even proliferation of civil groups have been seen by several
authors as vital to the democratisation project and its sustenance. Only a
few scholars have pointed to the roles that civil groups may play in undermining
democracy and national stability. In Nigeria, civil society was in the
vanguard of the democratic struggle, but recent events are pointing to the
negative roles played by some civil groups in the construction of platforms
for ethnic militancy and violent confrontation with other groups and the
state. Based on evidence from three cases of civil groups, the paper identifies
goals, methods, strategies and tendencies that indicate intense primordialism,
militancy and violence. The study finds that in plural societies, civil society
may become so parochial, divisive, divergent and disarticulative that it
actually undermines democracy.
This article considers the diplomatic strategies of African states within an
evolving United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
(UNCTAD). It proposes that the prominence of certain ideas about economic
development rises and falls not so much as a result of the nature of
the ideas themselves, but as a result of opportunities made and unmade by the
world economy. The world economy in turn changes the work mandates of
international economic organisations like UNCTAD. The trajectory of African
diplomatic strategies is important because it calls into question recent
literature in international relations theory focusing almost exclusively on the
experiences of industrialised states. In the case of African ideas in UNCTAD,
underlying variables associated with the world economy destroyed the remnants
of the Group of 77 coalition which had served as an agent for African
representatives in UNCTAD. African diplomats have tried to realise whatever
objectives they can in the changed circumstances without necessarily
changing their ideas about development.
Like many other Sub-Saharan African countries, Ghana implemented an
orthodox Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), to resuscitate its ailing
economy, in the early 1980s. Subsequently, there has been a dramatic expansion in
the production and export of processed wood. Based on an empirical study of Ghana's
formal wood processing industry, this paper discusses
the various determinants that have combined to boost the export-oriented
output in the industry, particularly in the first decade of the programme,
and assesses the extent to which the SAP-based policy actions account for
the change. The study concludes that adjustment played a major role in the
change, and suggests that even though SAP supporters and critics disagree
on the nature, dynamics and effects of the programme, government measures
under the programme are an indicator of what real commitment on the part
of African governments can do to engender production expansion in comparable African manufacturing industries.
Analysing the dynamics of agrarian change and economic diversification is
central for understanding the current transformation of African countries
under market reforms. This article examines the complex changes taking
place in the densely populated Uluguru Mountains of Tanzania, and places
the Uluguru case in the context of wider debates dealing with market liberalisation,
economic diversification, poverty, and inequality. It argues that
rural households are not ‘trapped in decline’ on the Uluguru Mountains, as
depicted in previous literature. Under the harsh realities of farming in this
area, households can improve their livelihoods in three ways – short of migrating
and in addition to relying on remittances. These are to expand land
cultivated in the surrounding plains, to experiment with alternative farming
systems, and to increase non-farm income. Uluguru households are doing all
of the above, with a certain degree of success. Economic diversification can
thus play an important role in improving rural livelihoods in Tanzania and
beyond, but this process is more likely to take place in locations with well-established
economic ties and relatively good access to major markets.
State responsiveness to pressures from women's movements in Africa has been
limited. However, where inroads have been made, associational autonomy
from the state and dominant party has proved critical. The women's movement
is one of the most coordinated and active social movements in Uganda,
and one of the most effective women's movements in Africa more generally.
An important part of its success comes from the fact that it is relatively
autonomous, unlike women's movements in earlier periods of Uganda's
post-independence history. The women's movement, in spite of enormous
pressures for cooptation, has taken advantage of the political space afforded
by the semi-authoritarian Museveni government, which has promoted
women's leadership to serve its own ends. Leaders and organisations reflect
varying degrees of autonomy and cooptation. Nevertheless the women's
movement has had a visible impact on policy as a result of its capacity to set
its own far-reaching agenda and freely select its own leaders.
What lessons on the broad issue of successful democratic transitions and consolidation
can be drawn from the Senegalese experience? The most import
ant inference from this case is that transition is a function not of one factor
alone, or even one dominant factor, but a combination of dynamic changes
including institutional design and modification, and the attitudes, values and
beliefs of the population. In Senegal, modernisation and political culture
change activated a movement towards the transition that only became possible
as a result of institutional modifications. Institutional reform creates opportunities
but does not ensure a successful transition. The issues of social
capital, materialism/post-materialism, education, economic security, regime
performance, value change, and confidence in institutions in general all come
into play to varying degrees. The gradual creation of democratic institutions
precedes and contributes to political culture change, independent of economic
development. The article draws on survey data, a replication of the
world values survey conducted in Senegal, and an analysis of institutional
(electoral system) reforms over the last twenty-five years, with comparative
data from other African countries.