The African Sate Neo-patrimonial Governance in a “Democratic” South Africa

Johannes Tsheola


Policy studies demonstrate that reality is complex and is rarely matched by statements of intent. Inevitably, governance of a democratic political system necessarily involves a degree of incoherence. Rather than pioneer a new distinct epoch of African governance, the African National Congress-led (ANC-led) state merely legitimized continuities of Africa’s extraversion and transposition of the Westphalian state model. With regard to its continental reach, the ANC-led nation-state has appeared to emulate an “Empire”, a global capitalist neo-patrimonial state, which was simultaneously reconstituted at a global scale and ruled by proxy through the multilateral organs such as the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and the World Bank. These externalities, together with other ratings as one of the most corrupt states in the world, underscore the ANC-led democratic state’s failure to provide a dependable model of governance and state restructuring in Africa. Twenty years on, it has to be asked if the ANC-led state merely delivers the 54th failed state, reinforcing cultural determinism stereotypes of successive cohorts of African leaders being incapable of “good” governance? This article argues that the ANC-led democratic state too, has quickly deteriorated into a neo-patrimonial state. Just like in most of Africa, the state has increasingly being weakened whilst the governing regimes were made relatively stable, sometimes stronger. It concludes that increasingly the ANC-led neo-patrimonial state incorporates elements of personalized rule, elite subservience to the core and a shadow state, where differentiation between the public and private spheres of governance is disappearing.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n20p947

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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