Reconstructing traditional authority - for whom? Political parties, state
This project culminated with a Ph.D dissertation by Mr. Aslak Orre. It had a two-fold agenda linked to the relationship between political parties, state administration and traditional authorities in Angola and Mozambique.
The overarching objective is to contribute to the understanding of the party system and democratisation process in countries dominated by a hegemonic party-state. It will:
- explore the process restructuring the role of traditional authorities in local governance, which from the state's point of view can be seen as co-optation of community leadership;
- analyse how various parties politicise this process to tap the legitimacy of traditional authorities among citizens;
- gauge the influence of the above described process on the political parties' performance
- compare Angola and Mozambique to assess the weight of historical-contextual and current variables (popular perceptions) on the political outcome.
The overarching objective is to contribute to the understanding of the party system and democratisation process in countries dominated by a hegemonic party-state. The two case countries - Angola and Mozambique - share many similarities in political history and post-colonial regime trajectories, passing through a phase as Soviet and China-inspired 'socialist' one-party states, civil war and to the current phase of political and economic liberalisation and multiparty elections. In both countries, the party that took power at independence in 1975 still governs, and the dominant opposition party was previously at war with the incumbent party. Given the history of one party's hegemonic position in the state - and dominance of policy making - it is important to scrutinise regime entrenchment from a variety of angles.
This project chooses the politics of traditional authority as the focal point. Despite ideological similarities, the two post-independence regimes ran different policies in relation to the traditional authorities ('chiefs') holding great influence in rural areas. The idea for the project came enquiring; what would the effect of this crucial difference be on current politics? Recently, both countries' governments have embarked on a policy of restructuring the role of traditional authorities in local government. Would this process benefit the incumbent party and inhibit the opposition?
The project will carry out field work to estimate the current developments in terms of people's perceptions and direct observations. Accompanying the role of references to traditional authorities in the politics of elections will be an important component. The main hypothesis states that the incumbent party will see its hegemony entrenched through its current policies in relation to the TAs. The research results will enlighten the discussion of the democratisation process in these countries as well as the politics of local governance and decentralisation.
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