Event Reports

From Liberation Movement to Government

Past legacies and the challenges of transition in Africa

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, in cooperation with the South African think-tank The Brenthurst Foundation, jointly organized the workshop „From Liberation Movements to Government – Past legacies and the challenges of transition in Africa” in early October. An impressive panel convened in Cadenabbia at Lake Como: former liberation fighters, politicians from the era after the liberation movement, experts and researchers with longstanding Africa-experience.

Workshop participants with Wolfgang Maier, Deputy Department Head, Department European and International Cooperation (first row, 4th from the left)

Different case studies showcased the greatest challenges of those liberation fighters who finally found themselves in government – in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Uganda, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Africa’s youngest state, South Sudan. Equally important for all of those liberation movements was to initially enable and qualify former fighters without any governance experience and to cooperate with and integrate the old bureaucracy of colonial, oligarchic or autocratic previous governments. By necessity, stability was the first priority.

Today it is evident that the justification of stability has become a pretext for self-perpetuating power in several cases – such as in Zimbabwe which is ruled by Robert Mugabe for 32 years. Here, the question is how to replace the „rapidly wasting asset of liberation“: the high reputation and political capital from merits in the liberation war is fading with the years, especially when combined with economic stagnation, lack of political rights, and growing youth unemployment. Particularly the younger generation sometimes cannot identify with the liberation movement any more.

For the future, liberation movements stand on crossroads: either they embrace a political opening – with the enabling of checks and balances, a multi-party system, the encouragement of civil society and young politicians – or they have to face increasing lack of understanding for their power politics.

The Brenthurst Foundation The Brenthurst Foundation

About this series

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, its educational institutions, centres and foreign offices, offer several thousand events on various subjects each year. We provide up to date and exclusive reports on selected conferences, events and symposia at www.kas.de. In addition to a summary of the contents, you can also find additional material such as pictures, speeches, videos or audio clips.

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