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This chapter examines legislative development in Kenya and Zambia over time by documenting the longitudinal variation in four key measures of legislative institutionalization and independence – the number of sittings per year, the share of the budget allocated to legislatures, remuneration of legislators, the share of executive bills passed in the legislature, and the incidence of executive rule-making. An examination of these specific measures provides evidence of the differences in legislative development in Kenya and Zambia as predicted by the previous two chapters. First, because of its relative lack of independence, on average Zambia’s legislature met fewer times (even as it handled more bills) than its Kenyan counterpart. It also passed executive bills at higher rates than Kenya’s legislature. Second, following the end of single-party rule, Kenya’s legislature emerged from the shadow of KANU stronger than its Zambian counterpart did following the demise of UNIP. After 1991 rates of passage of executive bills dropped precipitously in Kenya but not in Zambia. Kenyan legislators were also better able to exploit their newfound independence and increased bargaining power to obtain a bigger share of the budget, increase their level of remuneration, and to limit the incidence of unilateral executive rule-making.
As the primary means of entry into legislatures, elections are a key pillar of legislative institutionalization and independence. Politically independent legislators are the foundation of legislative institutional independence. This chapter examines the electoral sources of legislative strength in Kenya and Zambia. In doing so it outlines the incentives faced by legislators both during and after the end of single-party rule. The evidence suggests that Kenyan and Zambian legislators experienced higher levels of incumbency advantage under multipartyism than under single-party rule. I argue that under single-party rule, intra-elite competition for legislative posts took place in the shadow of chief executives. Through the ruling party, presidents in Kenya and Zambia could make and unmake legislators’ political careers. As such, individuals could not invest in robust bases of political support. Political independence could be seen as an attempt to challenge the president. The lack of a localized personal vote exposed Kenyan and Zambian incumbent legislators to challengers – the result being very high turnover rates. The end of single-party rule changed this dynamic. Freed from the monopoly of single-party rule, legislators could freely invest in their reelection without fear of sanction from presidents and outperform comparable challengers.
This chapter provides a theoretical model of postcolonial legislative development under preponderant chief executives. The model outlines a two-way commitment problem between powerful chief executives and elites acting collectively in legislatures. By lowering the costs of intra-elite collective action, legislatures serve as a means of credible commitment from chief executives not to abrogate intra-elite arrangements to share power and governance rents. This outcome checks executive tyranny. However, the establishment of legislatures that lower the costs of intra-elite collective action against chief executives increases the risk of legislative tyranny. Through their legislative monopoly on lawmaking, elites can simply legislate away executive powers, thereby abrogating intra-elite arrangements. For this reason, chief executives’ willingness to tolerate legislative strength and independence is conditional on their ability to effectively balance legislators acting collectively. In this manner, presidential strength conditions the upper limit of legislative strength and independence – with strong presidents likely to govern with stronger and organizationally independent legislatures. This simple model explains legislative development under both autocracy and democracy as well as the observed empirical regularity of a positive correlation between institutionalized autocracy and regime duration. Strong chief executives, who are likely to have long tenures, are also more likely to institutionalize their rule.
This chapter recapitulates the key theoretical claims and empirical findings in this book. It then situates these claims and findings within two strands of literature in Comparative Politics – on autocratic institutions and on regime transitions and democratic consolidation. The chapter then concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of the findings in this book. Legislative strengthening programs are an important part of global democracy promotion initiatives. This book’s findings emphasize the need to invest in both organizational legislative strengthening as well as the political independence of individual legislatures.
To explore the mechanisms behind the observed variation in legislative institutionalization and strength in Africa, this chapter provides a comparative historical study of legislative development in Kenya and Zambia. Both countries’ colonial Legislative Councils (LegCo) had a common Westminster origin and were dominated by European immigrants. However, contingencies of political development in the late colonial period put the two countries’ postcolonial legislatures on different trajectories of institutional development. First, colonial restriction of cross-ethnic political mobilization in Kenya produced district-cum-ethnic parties. Its independence party (KANU) was therefore little more than a confederacy of ethnic parties. In Zambia, urbanization in the Copperbelt created the social infrastructure to support mass politics under UNIP. KANU’s weakness enabled the Kenyan legislature to function as the main arena for intra-elite politics and the sharing of governance rents. In Zambia, UNIP’s organizational strength crowded out the legislature, relegating it to a mere constitutional conveyor belt of the party’s policies. Second, the two countries differed on the nature of interracial politics. Interracial discord in Zambia resulted in extra-institutional nationalist politics. Kenya’s nationalist political development took place largely within the LegCo. As a result, independence brought institutional legislative discontinuity in Zambia and continuity in Kenya.
This chapter provides a general overview of legislative development in Africa – from the colonial period to the present. The analysis includes a historical account of the creation and politics of colonial legislatures, an examination of how political development under colonialism conditioned postcolonial legislative development, and a documentation of contemporary variation in legislative institutional forms and strength in Africa. I find that African states that had a longer experience with colonial legislatures were more likely to exhibit higher levels of political development in the postcolonial period. They had fewer coups, kept continuously functional legislatures, were relatively more democratic, and were likely to have strong postcolonial legislatures. At the same time, the types of independence parties determined the nature of postcolonial intra-elite relations and legislative strength and independence. Countries that achieved independence under mass parties were likely to have weaker postcolonial legislatures. The structure of mass parties concentrated powers in the hands of chief executives, and increased the likelihood of the substitution of legislatures with parties. Elite parties had the opposite effect. By empowering elites, such parties increased the likelihood of the emergence of legislatures that served as the primary arena of intra-elite bargains over policy and governance rents.
This chapter situates the study of legislative development in postcolonial (autocratic) states in historical context. It begins by noting that very little research exists to explain the divergent outcomes in levels of legislative development, institutionalization, and strength in low-income emerging democracies – many of which are former colonies. Instead, much of our knowledge of the evolution and development of legislatures (and inter-branch relations in general) is informed by theories and empirical research on the high-income established democracies of Western Europe and North America. The core argument of this chapter is that postcolonial legislative development was different from the experience in Europe and North America. European legislatures emerged organically to reflect prevailing political economies and intra-elite balance of power between kings and barons (who had the power of the purse). Postcolonial legislative development was different. Having been created ex-nihilo, postcolonial legislatures were marked by significant levels of executive-legislative power imbalance. Importantly, chief executives’ control over resources made postcolonial legislatures not function as checks on executive power (they lacked the power of the purse), but as dependent extensions of the executive. These differences call for a new theory of legislative development (under both autocracy and democracy) in postcolonial contexts.
A claim in this book is that intra-elite politics condition the nature of executive-legislative relations. In particular, that presidents’ strategies of elite control determine the levels of legislative organizational independence. This chapter examines the specific strategies of elite control deployed by presidents in postcolonial Kenya and Zambia and their effects on legislative development in the two countries. I show how contingencies of the decolonization process predisposed Kenyan presidents to rely more on administration-based control of fellow elites’ political activities. In Zambia, the decolonization process bequeathed the country with party-based means of elite control. I also argue that, compared to party-based control, administration-based control resulted in a more dependable principal-agent relationship between the president and officials in the periphery. This is because unlike party officials, administration officials were less amenable to capture by politicians. Confident in their ability to monitor and balance fellow elites, Kenyan presidents granted their legislatures a modicum of organizational independence. In Zambia, the fear of agency loss forced the president to limit legislative independence, and instead rely on the party that was easier to control. In this manner, differences in strategies of elite control resulted in differences in legislative organizational development in Kenya and Zambia.
What explains contemporary variations in African legislative institutions – including their strengths and weaknesses? Compared with the more powerful executive branches, legislatures throughout the continent have historically been classified as weak and largely inconsequential to policy-making processes. But, as Ken Ochieng' Opalo suggests here, African legislatures actually serve important roles, and under certain conditions, powerful and independent democratic legislatures can emerge from their autocratic foundations. In this book, Opalo examines the colonial origins of African legislatures, as well as how postcolonial intra-elite politics structured the processes of adapting inherited colonial legislatures to local political contexts and therefore continued legislative development. Through case studies of Kenya and Zambia, Opalo offers a comparative longitudinal study of the evolution of legislative strength and institutionalization as well as a regional survey of legislative development under colonial rule, postcolonial autocratic single-party rule, and multiparty politics throughout Africa.