JOURNAL OF AFRICAN DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT, SECOND EDITION

Also available in Deutsch

In recognition of the need to generate new ideas and knowledge and promote conversations on democracy and development in Africa, we are happy to continue our partnership with the University Forum on Governance (UNIFOG) in order to support scholarly thoughts and perspectives on these crucial issues. The initiative of the Journal of African Democracy and Development (JADD) is motivated by the need to promote African scholarship by African writers, living and working Africa, to provide a scientific understanding of the patterns and dynamics of democracy and development.

Editorial Note

I have the distinguished honour and privilege to introduce to you the second issue of the Journal of African Democracy and Development. However, I wish to mention that the first issue came out under the name, the Journal on Perspectives of African Democracy and Development, which has now been revised to the Journal of African Democracy and Development. The current volume is a collection of eleven articles on issues pertaining to democracy and development from different scholars researching three countries in Africa that is, Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Those who read these papers will find that they raise important implications on the received wisdom in the pursuit of democracy and development in Africa. Here is a brief about the papers: in the first paper, Mbate revisits the theoretical debate on the benefits of decentralisation on governance and accountability in developing countries. Unlike existing theoretical arguments that highlight the positive and negative benefits of decentralisation, Mbate uses comparative evidence to argue, that to the extent that decentralization lead to good governance and accountability depends on (a) the degree of participation of citizens and social organisations in decision-making processes; (b) the level of political competition and (c) bureaucratic capacity. These, Mbate observes, determine whether local officials have the incentives to be accountable downwards and respond to the needs and preferences of the local electorate. Ocan analyses the worsening state of land wrangles in Northern Uganda and attempts to explain the underlying causes of these land conflicts. He draws on Malinowski’s ‘three column approach’ to culture contact and change (1939), to empirically explore the principles, practices, interactions and evolution of the customary land tenure systems alongside the modern private land ownership system in Acholiland whilst also assessing the consequences of these interactions in relation to women’s claim to land access. He argues that the regular and continuous land policy reforms to accommodate grievances since the 1998 Land Act support Malinowski’s theory that contradictions between value systems play a big role in the refining of the law to create what is acceptable to more parties. This seminal piece generates important insight into the search for the understanding of land conflicts in Uganda and influentially contributes to process of reforming land tenure systems to make them more secure in order to facilitate inclusive development.

In ‘Are land disputes responsible for Terrorism in Kenya? Michael Nyongesa analyses the Mpeketoni Attacks in 2014 to argue that terrorism could be stemming from the historical land grievances which politicians from different ethnic groups have used to fuel tension and radicalise the youths. Consequently, the terror groups have utilised this, as a fertile ground of ethnic tension to carry out the attacks. The paper points out important lessons for combining non-military and military approaches for fighting terrorism in the twenty first century.

Looking into Civil Society and the war on Terror, Yusuf Kiranda examines the role civil society organisations have played in combating terrorism, particularly with respect to the spread of fundamentalist networks and the unilateralist, repressive way in which states pursue counter-terrorism. Using evidence from Kenya and Uganda, he posits that while civil society actors are attempting to defend human rights, they are circumscribed by a repressive-securitised regime. In addition, Yusuf further underscores that the existing contestations of the role of international institutions like the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the African continent tend to distract civil society actors from advocating for multilateralism and global governance. At the same time, high levels of poverty and lack of basic services at home means East African civil society can hardly campaign for humanitarianism beyond the borders of its territorial states. He identifies two major constraints that limit civil society response to the war on terror: on the one hand, civil society is now circumscribed by fear and insecurity perpetuated by terrorism and counter-terrorism; and on the other hand, it is sandwiched by a spate of legal and security restrictions that only serve to complicate its work.

Mugisha and Kitamirike question why Uganda’s two decades of rapid economic growth has not translated into high job creation. They argue that a combination of ‘wrong’ orientation of macroeconomic reforms and political patronage, fueled by a shift to multi-party democratic politics, and the desire of the NRM regime to consolidate itself in power, explains the current unemployment and underemployment problem. They provide empirical evidence to further suggest that the increase in political patronage has crowded out private and public investment in increasing the stock of physical capital formation required to support a strong foundation for firm growth and employment creation.

Ojok and Achol grapple with the increasing violent characterisation of youth participation in Uganda’s competitive electoral process. Drawing on the political economy literature, they theorize that the increasing proclivity of young people to violent actions in their political participation is driven by a combination of the failure of the past economic policies to expand opportunities for a ballooning youth population, playing into, and partly contributes to the deepening political clientelism. The clientelistic networks bolstered by economic vulnerability have in turn created the structural incentives for young people to serve various elite coalitions in both the opposition and incumbent parties competing for political power. In this context, electoral competition very often exacerbates rather than mitigates political violence because of heightened stakes for inclusion in a governing political settlement. Ojok and Achol conclude with a cautionary note that business as usual threatens to undermine democratic consolidation in Uganda and call upon various stakeholders to undertake various measures to mitigate rather than encourage young people to engage in violent means of political participation.

Adongo examines the nature of Uganda’s multi-party politics in the broad context of re-democratising the Ugandan state since early 2000s. She argues while the pressure from the emerging middle class in Uganda tremendously contributed to the return to multi-party politics in 2005, these actors have had limited participation and contribution in supporting the consolidation of the democratisation of the Ugandan state in the outer years. Tshimba takes a look at the political transition crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of the broad problem of the International Community’s obsessive rush in holding elections in post-conflict societies. He analyses two electoral experiences in the Democratic Republic of Congo that is 2006 and 2011 to argue that the insistence on the organisation of elections for purposes of legitimisation of power may simply not be very meaningful in the first place or, worse still, may lead to a renewal of violence only capable of worsening an already bad situation. Tshimba concludes the paper by asserting that there is ‘no better concretisation of a politeia than for a people to govern themselves, as opposed to be merely governed by a hijacking political elite – whether resulting from a ritualised ‘free and fair’ election or not.’ Omaada Esibo’s paper undertakes an anthropological approach to study the basis of what is often referred to as ‘the republic character of the Iteso society’. He traces this axiom in the context of the democracy and development of the Iteso with a focus on the traps and obstacles to the democracy and development in Teso society, and on attempts to transcend the identified traps and obstacles.

Ayub Kiranda revisits the debate on the role of cooperative unions to agricultural (under)development in Uganda. The paper takes on the existing competing theories that on one hand portray cooperatives unions instruments of elite exploitation of the poor, and on the other hand see cooperatives as critical foundational assets for agricultural transformation. Kiranda adopts a more nuanced approach to argue that the extent to which cooperative unions contribute or undermine agricultural transformation depends in large part on their organisational dynamics which are too often buttressed by the level of shared organisational values and accountable leadership, social capital and social rootedness, and participation in high-value chains. Finally, Bruce and others looks at Uganda’s 2016 general election experience to examine what approaches would be more effective for catalysing political reform in Uganda for those interested in supporting the political reform process. They focus on two particular approaches: one that mobilises pro-change agents to force a powerful regime into reform, and another that involves employing persuasive alternatives that enlist buy-in from powerful actors from the ruling group.

Kabaasa and others argue that given Uganda’s contextual conditions that shape and determine the structure of political settlement, a two-pronged approach can be mutually reinforcing in the promotion of multi-party democracy. On one hand, designing interest-based, incentive-compatible reform packages that promise to facilitate possible buy-in from influential dominant group agents, and on the other hand, complementing this with the building of strong and credible opposition political parties that can take advantage of the changing environment to foster pluralistic political competition.

With this brief overview of all the papers contained in this volume, the Editor invites everyone to read the detailed analysis contained in each of the papers.

Michael B. Mugisha Research Fellow Centre for Development Alternatives (CDA)