Assignment 1
Choose ONE question and answer in 7-9 pages:


Explain the paradox of electoral economics (sources: lectures, Bates)
Explain bridging institutions (sources: lectures, Mann)
Book:
1. When things fell apart. (Try this one better) (attached)
2. Fascists (attached)
Assignment 2
Choose ONE question and answer in 7-9 pages:
1. Explain the logic of Islamic law (sources: lectures, Esposito)
2. Explain the. impact of faith on economic behavior (sources: lectures, any book assigned
for course)
Book:
1. American grace: How religion divides and unites us.(attached)
2. The future of Islam (attached)
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WHEN THINGS FELL APART
In the later decades of the twentieth century, Africa plunged into
chaos. States failed, governments became predators, and citizens
took up arms. In When Things Fell Apart, Robert H. Bates advances
an explanation of state failure in Africa. In so doing, he plumbs
the depths of the continent’s late-century tragedy, the logic of
political order, and the foundations of the state. This book covers
a wide range of territory by drawing on materials from Rwanda,
Sudan, Liberia, and Congo. Written to be accessible to the general
reader, it is nonetheless a must-read for scholars and policymakers
concerned with conflict and state failure.
Robert H. Bates has conducted field work in Zambia, Sudan,
Uganda, Kenya, Colombia, and Brazil. Before coming to Harvard,
he held faculty appointments at the California Institute of Technology and Duke University and worked as a researcher at the
Institute of Development Studies at the University of Nairobi,
the Institute for Social Research at the University of Zambia,
and Fedesarrollo in Bogota, Colombia. Bates currently serves
as a researcher and resource person with the Africa Economic
Research Consortium, Nairobi; as a member of the Political Instability Task Force of the United States government; and as Professeur Associe, School of Economics, University of Toulouse,
where he has taught since 2000. Among his most recent books
are Analytic Narratives with Avner Greif and colleagues (1999),
Prosperity and Violence (2001), Beyond the Miracle of the Market,
Second Edition (2005), and The Political Economy of Economic
Growth in Africa, 1960–2000 (2 vols.) with Benno Ndulu and colleagues (2007).
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Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics
General Editor
Margaret Levi University of Washington, Seattle
Assistant General Editor
Stephen Hanson University of Washington, Seattle
Associate Editors
Robert H. Bates Harvard University
Helen Milner Princeton University
Frances Rosenbluth Yale University
Susan Stokes Yale University
Sidney Tarrow Cornell University
Kathleen Thelen Northwestern University
Erik Wibbels University of Washington, Seattle
Other Books in the Series
Lisa Baldez, Why Women Protest: Women’s Movements in Chile
Stefano Bartolini, The Political Mobilization of the European
Left, 1860–1980: The Class Cleavage
Mark Beissinger, Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of
the Soviet State
Nancy Bermeo, ed., Unemployment in the New Europe
Carles Boix, Democracy and Redistribution
Continued after the Index
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When Things Fell Apart
State Failure in Late-Century Africa
Robert H. Bates
Harvard University
v
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CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo
Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
www.cambridge.org
Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521887359
© Robert H. Bates 2008
This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provision of
relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place
without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published in print format 2008
ISBN-13 978-0-511-37933-8
eBook (NetLibrary)
ISBN-13 978-0-521-88735-9
hardback
ISBN-13 978-0-521-71525-6
paperback
Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of urls
for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not
guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.
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To my mentors
Harvey Glickman
Haverford College
Martin Kilson
Harvard University
Richard Sklar
University of California, Los Angeles
Thayer Scudder
California Institute of Technology
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Contents
Acknowledgments
page xi
Part One
Introduction
1
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
2
From Fable to Fact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Part Two
Sowing the Seeds
3
Political Legacies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
4
Policy Choices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
5
Subnational Tensions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
Part Three
Things Fall Apart
6
Things Fall Apart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
7
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
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Contents
Part Four
Appendix
Cross-National Regressions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143
Bibliography
175
Index
187
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Acknowledgments
Working in Uganda in the early 1980s, I came to learn what it
meant to live in a world of violence. Among the reasons my
colleagues in the Ministry of Cooperatives welcomed the overthrow of Idi Amin was that with Uganda no longer a pariah
state, they could now attend international conferences. And
among the reasons they attended such conferences was that
they could then sleep, for they need not fear the arrival of soldiers in the night. Insights like this reminded me of something
of which I was but fleetingly aware: not only the fragility of life,
but also its political premise. I knew then that I would some
day have to return to the issues to which that recognition gave
rise.
To gain a respite from the tensions of working amidst violence, I turned instead to the study of the international coffee
industry. To write up my research into the coffee industry, I
spent a sabbatical year at the Center for Advanced Study in Palo
Alto, California. Research in Colombia had quickly taught me
that conflict was not a phenomenon confined solely to Africa.
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I was therefore fortunate that Avner Greif was also in residence
and that we could ponder together the roots of political order.
The model that Avner, Smita Singh, and I produced underpins
this work.
While I was laboring in archives in Latin America and at
the Center for Advanced Study in California, governments in
Africa were being overthrown by political reformers and decimated by political insurgents. When I returned to the study
of Africa, I therefore had much ground to make up. Backed
by funding from the Institute for International Development
(HIID) at Harvard University, I assembled a collection of books
and articles and, in conjunction with scholars from the African
Economic Research Consortium (AERC), began a collaborative study of economic growth on the continent. I wish to
acknowledge the support of Dwight Perkins and Jeffrey Sachs
at HIID and that of my colleagues at AERC: Jean-Paul Azam,
Paul Collier, Augustin Fosu, Jan Willem Gunning, Benno Ndulu,
Dominique Nijinkeu, Stephen O’Connell, and the skilled stalwarts of the Secretariat.
A superb team of students made this study possible. I
salute in particular the contributions of Karen Ferree and Smita
Singh, who helped to launch it. Marc Alexander, James Habyarimana, Matthew Hindman, and Macartan Humphreys made
major contributions. I wish also to thank Daron Haddass,
Andy Harris, Kusisami Hornberger, Olivia Lau, Rebecca Nelson, Maria Petrova, Naunihal Singh, and Tsvetana Petrova.
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Acknowledgments
Thanks to Nahomi Ichino and James Robinson for reading and commenting on earlier drafts, as well as members of
Gov. 2227: Andrew Beath, Matthew Blackwell, Ryan Bubb,
Deepa Dhume, Daniel Fetter, Amanda Garrett, Andy Harris,
Jennifer Howk, Janet Lewis, Christopher Rhodes, Anna Vodopyanov, Jacqueline Jansen, and Subhasish Ray. Thanks, too,
to the three superb readers, selected by Lewis Bateman and
Margaret Levi. I have benefited from comments made by
participants at seminars at Yale University, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology, the University of
Oxford, Harvard University, the Peace Research Institute in
Oslo, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s villa in Belagio; at the
annual meetings of the Political Science and Economic History
Associations; and at workshops in the Kenya Institute for Policy
Research and Analysis and the Africa Economic Research Consortium in Nairobi. I am particularly grateful to the Division
of Humanities and Social Sciences at Caltech for appointing
me as a Moore Fellow, thus giving me the time to launch this
book. Special thanks, too, to the Economics Faculty at Toulouse
University, especially to Jean-Paul Azam and Bruno Biais, with
whom I have shared many of the ideas that worked their way
into my argument.
This project has been supported by the Center for International Development and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University; by a Clark Fellowship
from the office of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences,
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Harvard University; and by the Africa Economic Research Consortium. Funding from the United States Institute for Peace
(Grant No. USIP-02597S0), the Carnegie Corporation, and
the National Science Foundation (Grant No. SES-09905568)
brought the project to completion.
I wish as well to acknowledge the impact upon my thinking of the members of the Political Instability Task Force, in
particular David Epstein and Jack Goldstone.
I dedicate this book to my mentors: those whose counsel
eased my entry into this profession and whose scholarship has
inspired my own.
Portions of this study have previously appeared in the following publications and are employed with permission of the
publishers:
Bates, R. H. (2006). “Institutions and Development,” Journal of African
Economies 15(1): 10–61.
Bates, R. H. (Forthcoming). State Failure: A Model with Tests from African
Data. In Political Violence. Edited by Tarek Masoud and Stathis Kalyvas.
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Bates, Robert, Avner Greif, and Smita Singh (2004). Tribal Societies. In Politics
from Anarchy to Democracy: Rational Choice in Political Science. Edited by
Morris Irwin, Joe Oppenheimer, and Karol Edward Soltan. Stanford, CA:
Stanford University Press.
Ndulu, B., P. Collier, et al. (2007). The Political Economy of Economic Growth
in Africa, 1960–2000. Vol. 1. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
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Part One
Introduction
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Introduction
I
n late-century Africa, things fell apart. By way of illustration, consider Figure 1.1, which lists civil wars in African
countries from 1970 to 1995, as judged by the World Bank.
As time passes, the list grows. Angola, Chad, Namibia,
Nigeria, and Sudan enter the 1970s war-torn; in the mid-1970s,
Sudan exits the list, but Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe join
it; by 1980, Zimbabwe departs from the ranks of the war-torn,
but is replaced by Mozambique, Nigeria, and Uganda. The
pattern – a few dropping off, a larger number entering in –
continues into the early 1990s. Only one country that was conflict ridden in 1990 becomes peaceful by 1992, while eleven
others crowd into the ranks of Africa’s failed states.
Humanitarians, policymakers, and scholars: Each demands to know why political order gave way to political conflict in late-century Africa. Stunned by the images and realities
of political disorder, I join them in search of answers. In so
doing, I – a political scientist – turn to theories of the state and
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Figure 1.1. Civil wars, Africa 1970–1995. Source: World Bank (Sambanis 2002).
Zimbabwe
Uganda
Congo
Sierra Leone
Somalia
Sudan
Senegal
Nigeria
Rwanda
Mozambique
Namibia
Mali
Liberia
Kenya
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Introduction
locate the sources of political disorder midst the factors that
lead states to break down.
I anchor this book in the work of Weber (1958) and view
coercion as the distinctive property of politics. As will become
clear in the next chapter, I depart from Weber – and his “structuralist” descendants1 – by turning to the theory of games.
Driven by the realities of Africa, I view political order as
problematic: In light of the evidence Africa offers, political
order cannot be treated as a given. Rather, I argue, it results
when rulers – whom I characterize as “specialists in violence” –
choose to employ the means of coercion to protect the creation
of wealth rather than to prey upon it and when private citizens
choose to set weapons aside and to devote their time instead
to the production of wealth and to the enjoyment of leisure.2
When these choices constitute an equilibrium, then, I say,
political order forms a state.3
To address the collapse of political order in late-century
Africa, I therefore return to theory – the theory of the state – and
to theorizing – the theory of games. I do so because proceeding
in this fashion points out the conditions under which political
order can persist – or fail. I devote Chapter 2 to an informal
1
2
3
Evans, P., T. Skocpol, and D. Rueschmeyer (1985), Bringing the State Back
In, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press provides perhaps the
best-known example.
I am drawing on Bates, R. H., A. Greif, et al. (2002), “Organizing Violence,”
Journal of Conflict Resolution 46(5): 599–628.
The ambiguous phrasing is intended.
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Introduction
derivation of those conditions. In the remaining chapters, I
turn from deduction to empirics and explore the extent to
which these conditions were to be found, or were absent, in
late-century Africa. The evidence leads me to conclude that
in the 1980s and 1990s, each of three key variables departed
from the levels necessary to induce governments and citizens
to choose in ways that would yield political order.
The Literature
Following the outbreak of conflict in Serbia, Somalia, Rwanda,
and elsewhere, the study of political violence has once again
become central to the study of politics. Familiar to many, for
example, would be the attempts by Collier and Hoeffler (2004)
and Fearon and Laitin (2003) to comprehend the origins of civil
wars. Also familiar would be studies of the impact of ethnicity (Fearon and Laitin 2003), democracy (Hegre, Gates et al.
2001; Hegre 2003), and natural-resource endowments (e.g.,
Ross 2004). In my attempts to comprehend why things fell
apart in late-century Africa, I draw upon these writings. But I
also take issue with them, for virtually all share common properties from which I seek to depart.
Consider, for example, the assumption that civil war can be
best treated as the outcome of an insurgency. When thinking
about the origins of political disorder in Africa, I can find no
way of analyzing the origins of insurrection without starting
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Introduction
with the behavior of governments. The conditions that led
to the breakdown of order in Africa include the authoritarian
nature of its states and their rulers’ penchant for predation. By
rendering their people insecure, they provoked insurgencies.
While both insurrectionaries and incumbents must necessarily feature in the analysis of political disorder, in this instance it
makes sense not to focus exclusively on the rebels but to stress
as well the behavior of those whom they seek to drive from
power.
Recent contributions exhibit a second common feature:
the methods that they employ. Utilizing cross-national data,
they apply statistical procedures to isolate and measure the
relationship of particular variables with the onset and duration
of civil wars. I, too, make use of cross-national data; but rather
than collecting data for all countries in the globe, I restrict my
efforts to Africa. I do so in part because Africa provides an
unsettling range of opportunities to explore state failure and
because political disorder is so important a determinant of the
welfare of the continent. I also do so because I find it necessary
to draw upon my intuition. To employ that intuition, I need
first to inform it, be it by immersing myself in the field or in
qualitative accounts set down by observers. I have therefore
made use of a selected set of cases – those from the continent
of Africa – and my knowledge of their politics.4
4
The use of a subset of countries also eases the search for exogenous variables, and thus causal analysis. For example, given the small size of Africa’s
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Lastly, if only because they are based on the analysis of
cross-national data, contemporary studies exhibit a third
property: Their conclusions take the form of “findings.” These
findings are based upon relationships between a selection of
key variables and the outbreak or duration of civil wars. Collier
and Hoeffler (2004), for example, stress the importance of
“opportunities,” that is, chances to secure economic rewards
and to finance political organizations. Noting that the magnitude of primary product exports, the costs of recruiting, and
access to funding from diasporas relate to the likelihood of
civil war, they conclude that “economic viability appears to be
the predominant systematic explanation of rebellion” (p. 563).
Fearon and Laitin (2003), by contrast, conclude that “capabilities” play the major role: “We agree that financing is one
determinant of the viability of insurgency,” they write (p. 76).
But they place major emphasis on “state administrative, military, and police capabilities” (p. 76), measures of which bear
significant relationships to the outbreak of civil wars in their
global set of data.
In this work, I proceed in a different fashion. I start by
first capturing the logic that gives rise to political order. While
I, too, test hypotheses about the origins of disorder, I derive
economies, I can treat global economic shocks as exogenous – something
that yields inferential leverage when seeking to measure the impact of
economic forces on state failure.
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these hypotheses from a theory. By adopting a more deductive
approach, I depart from the work of my predecessors.
Key Topics
Energized by such works as Kaplan’s “The Coming Anarchy”
(1994), students of Africa have focused on the relationship
between ethnic diversity and political conflict. At least since
the time that William Easterly and Ross Levine penned “Africa’s
Growth Tragedy” (1997), empirically minded social scientists
have sought to capture the impact of ethnicity on the economic performance of Africa’s states. Interestingly, however,
they have found it difficult to uncover systematic evidence of
the relationship between measures of ethnicity and the likelihood of political disorder.5
In this study I, too, find little evidence of a systematic relationship. And yet, the qualitative accounts – be they of the
killing fields of Darfur or of the tenuous peace in Nigeria – continue to stress the central importance of ethnicity to political
life in Africa. In response, I argue that ethnic diversity does
not cause violence; rather, ethnicity and violence are joint
5
For a discussion, see Bates, R. H., and I. Yackolev (2002), Ethnicity in Africa,
in The Role of Social Capital In Development, edited by C. Grootaert and T.
van Bastelaer, New York: Cambridge University Press; and Fearon, J., and
D. Laitin (2003), “Ethnicity, Insurgency and Civil War,” American Political
Science Review 97(1): 75–90.
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products of state failure. Their relationship is contingent: It
occurs when political order erodes and politicians forge political organizations in the midst of political conflict.
The political significance of resource wealth has also
attracted much attention. Analyzing their data on civil wars,
Collier and Hoeffler (2004) report that “dependence upon primary commodity exports” constituted “a particularly powerful risk factor” for the outbreak of civil war (p. 593). Africa
is, of course, noted for its bounteous natural endowments of
petroleum, timber, metals, and gemstones. And scholars and
policymakers have documented the close ties between the diamond industry and UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) in Angola (Fowler 2000), the smuggling
of gemstones and the financing of rebels in Sierra Leone (Reno
2000), and the mining of coltan and the sites of rebellion in
eastern Zaire (present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo)
(Kakwenzire and Kamukama 2000).
And yet, using Collier and Hoeffler’s (2004) own data,
Fearon (2005) has demonstrated that their findings are fragile, depending in part on decisions about how to measure
and classify cases. In this study, too, I fail to find a significant relationship between the value of natural resources and
the likelihood of state failure.6 Once again, then, there arises
6
For both Fearon (2005) and myself (this work), only the value of petroleum
deposts is related to political disorder. Even here the relationship is fragile,
however.
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a disparity between the evidence from cross-national regressions and that from qualitative accounts. I shall argue that the
disparity suggests that the exploitation of natural resources
for war finance is a correlate rather than a cause of political
disorder.
A third factor plays a major role in the literature: democratization. Qualitative accounts, such as those of Mansfield
and Snyder (Mansfield and Snyder 1995; Snyder 2000) suggest that democratization produces political instability and
leads to the mobilization of what Zakaria (1997) calls “illiberal” political forces. Careful empirical researchers, such as
Hegre (Hegre, Gates et al. 2001; Hegre 2004), confirm that new
democracies and intermediate regimes – those lying somewhere between stable authoritarian and consolidated democratic governments7 – exhibit significantly higher rates of civil
war. As demonstrated by Geddes (2003), many of these intermediate regimes are the product of the “third wave” of democratization (Huntington 1991) and the collapse of communist
regimes and are therefore themselves new and vulnerable to
disorder.
In the 1980s and 1990s, many of Africa’s governments
reformed. Regimes that once had banned the formation
of political parties now faced challenges at the polls from
7
Using Polity coding. Available online at: http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/
polity/.
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Introduction
candidates backed by an organized political opposition. And
in the late 1980s and early 1990s, militias assembled, states
failed, and Africa faced rising levels of political disorder. The
experience of Africa thus appears to conform to what the literature has recorded: Electoral competition and state failure go
together.
In analyzing the impact of political reform, I employ two
measures: the movement from military to civilian rule and the
shift from no- or one- to multiparty systems. In discussions of
democracy, the followers of Schumpeter (1950) argue for the
sufficiency of party competition; those of Dahl (1971) contend
that party competition is necessary but not sufficient. Without
an accompanying bundle of political and civil rights, the latter
argue, contested elections are not of themselves evidence of
democratic politics. In debates over the relationship between
party systems and democracy, I concur with the followers of
Dahl. When addressing political reform, I pay no attention to
the number of political parties, their relative vote shares, or
the conditions under which the opposition is allowed to campaign. I therefore address not the relationship between democracy and political conflict but rather the relationship between
political reform and political disorder.
Lastly, there are those who emphasize the impact of poverty. That poverty and conflict should go together is treated
as noncontroversial, as if disorder were simply an expected
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Introduction
corollary of the lack of economic development.8 But consider:
If, as many argue, lower per capita incomes imply lower wages
and therefore lower costs of rebellion, so too do they imply
fewer gains from predation; income thus cancels out the ratio
between the costs and benefits. From the theoretical point of
view, moreover, there is simply little that can be said about the
relationship between the average level of income – or, for that
matter, poverty – and incentives for violence. As I will argue
in Chapter 2, for our purposes, discussions of private income
can be set aside; for the logic of political order suggests that
the focus be placed not on private income but rather on public
revenues. Economic shocks will indeed play a major role in this
analysis, but the focus will be on their impact on the revenues
of states, not on the incomes of individuals.9 In this work, when
I measure the impact of income per capita, I treat it as a control
variable, rather than as a variable of theoretical interest.
In Chapter 2, I parse the logic of political order. I recount the
theory informally, portraying the interaction between governments and citizens and among citizens as well. Presented as a
8
9
Indeed, see Sambanis, N., and H. Hegre (2006), “Sensitivity Analysis of
Empirical Results on Civil War Onset,” The Journal of Conflict Resolution
50(4): 508–35. The authors point to per capita income as one of the very
few variables that bears a robust relationship with civic violence.
See the arguments in Hirshleifer, J. (1995), Theorizing About Conflict, in
Handbook of Defense Economics, edited by K. Hartley and T. Sandler, New
York: Elsevier.
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Introduction
fable, the argument is based upon rigorous foundations and
points to the conditions under which governments choose to
engage in predation and citizens choose to take up arms.10
Chapters 3 through 5 set out the conditions that prevailed
prior to the collapse of political order. They document the
social and political configurations that were in place at the
time of the impact of the economic and political shocks that
dismantled the state in Africa. In Chapter 6, states fracture
and political disorder engulfs nations in Africa. Chapter 7
concludes.
10
The informed reader will note the parallels between my analysis and that
of Azam, J.-P., and A. Mesnard (2003), “Civil War and the Social Contract,”
Public Choice 115(3–4): 455–75; Snyder, R., and R. Bhavani (2005),
“Diamonds, Blood and Taxes: A Revenue-Centered Framework for Explaining Political Order,” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 49(4): 563–
97; and Magaloni, B. (2006), Voting for Autocracy, New York: Cambridge
University Press.
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2
From Fable to Fact
I
devote this chapter to the exposition of a fable.1 While
diminutive, it is incisive: It captures the incentives that
drive the choices that lead to the failure of states. It is also
suggestive, for it points to the conditions under which political order should, or should not, prevail. After expositing this
fable, I determine whether it is also informative. It can be
so only insofar as the forces that animate its central characters find their parallel in late-century Africa. I devote the
last portions of the chapter to arguing that they do and that
the story communicated by the fable can therefore bear the
weight of the tragedy that befell the continent. The fable can
be used – with help – to explore the foundations of political
disorder.
1
A rigorous presentation appeared as Bates, R. H., A. Greif, et al. (2002),
“Organizing Violence,” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 46(5): 599–
628.
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Introduction
A Fable
Consider the following scenario: A community is peopled by a
“specialist in violence” and two groups of citizens. Headed by
powerful patrons, the groups can act in a unified manner.2 The
specialist in violence earns his living from the use of force; he
either seizes the wealth of others or pockets funds they pay for
their protection. Sheltered behind their patrons, the citizens
generate incomes by engaging in productive labor; but they
too can be mobilized either to seize the income of others – or
to defend their incomes from seizure. The three personages in
this drama repeatedly interact over time. The question is: Can
political order prevail in such a setting?
The answer is: Yes. Under certain circumstances, the specialist will chose to use his control of the means of violence to
protect rather than to despoil private property. And the groups
of citizens will chose to devote their time and energies to labor
and leisure and forswear the use of arms, while rewarding the
specialist in violence for protecting them against raids by others. In addition, under certain well-specified conditions, these
choices will persist in equilibrium, rendering political order a
state.
The primary reason for this outcome is that the players
interact over time. The specialist in violence and political
2
That is, they have solved the collective action problem.
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From Fable to Fact
organizations can therefore condition their future choices on
present behavior; that is, they can make threats and inflict punishments and thus shape the behavior of others. Should one
group raid or withhold tax payments, the specialist can retaliate by changing from guardian to predator. And should the
specialist opportunistically seize the wealth of the member of a
group, his defection would trigger punishment by that citizen’s
confederates: They can withhold tax payments or mobilize for
fighting. If not sufficiently paid for the provision of security,
the specialist in violence can pay himself: he can turn from
guardian to warlord. And if preyed upon or left undefended,
then the citizens can furnish their own protection; they can
take up arms.
When both the specialist and the citizens turn to punishment, political order breaks down. People become insecure. They also become poor; having to reallocate resources
to defense, they have fewer resources to devote to productive activity. The resultant loss of security and prosperity stays
the hand of a specialist in violence who might be tempted to
engage in predation or of a group that might be tempted to
forcefully seize the goods of another or withhold tax payments,
thus triggering political disorder.
To better grasp the incentives that animate this story, focus
on the choices open to the specialist in violence, as communicated in Figure 2.1. In this figure, the vertical axis represents monetary gains or losses. The further above zero, the
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Introduction
Payoffs
+
0

Time
Payoffs on the equilibrium path
Payoffs from defection and subsequent punishment
Figure 2.1. Payoffs from strategy choices.
greater the payoffs; the further below, the greater the losses.
The horizontal axis designates time, with the more immediate
payoffs occurring near the origin and the more distant ones
further to the right. The dotted line represents the flow of payoffs that result from tax payments; the flow is steady, moderate, and positive in value. The dashed line represents the
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From Fable to Fact
flow of payoffs that result from predation. Predation yields an
immediate benefit: The dashed line leaps above the dotted
line, indicating that the income from predation significantly
exceeds that from tax payments. But that one period spike
then gives way to a stream of losses, as illustrated by the plunge
below the zero point that separates gains from losses. Insofar
as a decision maker is forward looking, the losses that accrue
in the punishment phase caste a shadow over the returns from
defection and so temper any wish to engage in predation.
If summed over time, each line – that representing the
returns to taxation and that the returns to predation – yields an
expected payoff. What would determine their magnitudes? In
particular, what would determine whether the value of the variable path, generated by predation, will be more or less attractive than that of the steady path, generated from tax payments?
The factors that determine the relative magnitude of these payoffs determine whether the specialist in violence will adhere
to the path of play and continue to behave as guardian or veer
from that path, engage in predation, and trigger the re-arming
of the citizenry and subsequent disorder.
The Conditions of Political Order
One factor is the level of tax revenue. If too low, the benefits of
predation may be tempting despite the subsequent costs.3 A
3
But they may also be if too high. See the discussion in Bates, R. H., A. Greif,
et al. (2002), “Organizing Violence.”
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Introduction
second is the magnitudes of the rewards that predation might
yield. If sufficiently bounteous, the specialist in violence might
choose to deviate despite the losses. A third is the specialist’s rate of discount. A specialist in violence who is impatient,
greedy, or insecure will discount the future payoffs that accrue
along the path of play; and she will also discount the penalties that follow an opportunistic deviation. She may therefore
find the prospect of predation more attractive than if she were
patient, prosperous, or secure.
The fable thus suggests that the possibility of political order
rests on the value of three variables: the level of public revenues,
the rewards from predation, and the specialist’s rate of discount. The interplay of these forces helps to determine whether
governments safeguard or prey upon the wealth of the land;
whether groups of citizens take up arms; and whether there is
political order – or state failure.
The tale may be engaging; elsewhere it has been shown
to be logically consistent (Bates, Greif et al. 2002). But it is
informative only insofar as it captures and incorporates key
features of Africa’s political landscape. Only insofar as it does
so will it offer insight into the tribulations of that continent.
Features of Late-Century Politics
Recall that the scenario was populated by a specialist in violence and by citizens who could, should they choose, take up
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From Fable to Fact
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
Percentage
1970-
74
1 975 –
79
1980-
84
1985 –
89
1990-
95
Figure 2.2. Percentage country years in which country ruled by military head of state.
arms. Now note a characteristic feature of late-century politics in Africa: A significant portion of Africa’s states were ruled
by their military. Turning to Figure 2.2, we find that from the
beginning of the 1970s to the end of the 1980s, in more than
30 percent of the observations, Africa’s heads of state came
from the armed forces.4 In the 1990s, U.S. president William
Clinton and British prime minister Tony Blair heralded the
emergence of a “new generation” of African rulers – Yoweri
Museveni in Uganda, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Meles Zenawi
in Ethiopia, and Isaias Afwerki in Eritrea – while failing to mention that each had come to power as the head of an armed
insurgency. In many states, then, power came from the barrel
of a gun (Ottaway 1999).5
4
5
For details of the sample, see Table A.1 in the Appendix.
Lest readers regard the link between coercion and politics to be distinctive of politics in Africa, they might first recall the note sent by the father
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Not only were heads of states specialists in violence, the citizens, too, frequently took up arms. By way of illustration, consider the case of Chad. At the beginning of our sample period,
1970, Francois Tombalbaya, head of the Parti Progressive Tchadien (PPT), was president of Chad. Tombalbaya belonged to
the Sara, an agriculturalist people in the southern portions of
the country; the eastern and northern portions were populated by pastoralist peoples. As Tombalbaya consolidated his
rule, he posted administrators from the south to govern these
other regions. There they imposed policies designed to propagate Sara culture and imposed new taxes on cattle. In response,
the pastoralists mounted protests, fomented riots, and formed
militias: the Front for the Liberation of Chad (FLT) in the east
and the Front for National Liberation (FROLINAT) in the north.
It was only by calling for military assistance from France that
Tombalbaya remained in power.6
6
of Frederick the Great to the young man’s tutors: “[I]n the highest measure . . . instill in my son a true love of the military . . . and impress on him
that nothing in the world can give a prince such fame and honor as the
sword and that he would be the most despicable creature on earth if
he did not revere it and seek glory from it. . . . ” (p. 18 of Asprey, R. B.
(1986), Frederick the Great, New York: Ticknor and Fields). Recall, too,
the rueful words of the dying Louis IV: “I have loved war too much.”
(http://encarta.msm.com).
For accounts, see Buijtenhuijs, R. (1989), Chad, in Contemporary West
African States, edited by D. B. Cruise O’Brien, J. Dunn, and R. Rathbone, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press; May, R. (2003),
Internal Dimensions of Warfare in Chad, in Readings in African Politics, edited by T. Young, Oxford: James Currey; Lemarchand, R. (1981),
“Chad: The Roots of Chaos,” Current History (December); Nolutshungu,
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From Fable to Fact
Whereas the militarization of Chad marks the opening of
the sample period, conflict between militias in Congo (Brazzaville) marks its end. In 1992, a southerner, Pascal Lissouba,
became president of Congo(B); in the run up to the next presidential election, the strongman and former president, Denis
Sassou-Nguesso, declared his candidacy. As political tensions
mounted, each politician mobilized a private army: the Cobras,
who supported Sassou-Nguesso, and the Zulus, who supported Pascal Lissouba. Kindled in the provincial towns, fighting between these groups erupted in the capital where the
mayor, Bernard Kolelas, had organized his own militia, the
Njinjas. Combat between these militias lay waste to one of
the major cities of French-speaking Africa.7
As seen in Figure 2.3, over the course of the sample period
1970–1995, reports of the formation of militias became more
common. With increasing frequency, citizens took up arms
and states lost their monopoly over the means of violence.
The scenario depicted at the outset of this chapter
thus incorporates two major features of the politics of late
7
S. C. (1996), Limits of Anarchy, Charlottesville: University Press of
Virginia; and Azam, J.-P. (2007), The Political Geography of Redistribution, Chap. 6 in The Political Economy of Economic Growth in
Africa, 1960–2000: An Analytic Survey, edited by B. Ndulu, P. Collier,
R. H. Bates, and S. O’Connell, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University
Press.
One of the best accounts appears in Bazenguissa-Ganga, R. (2003), The
Spread of Political Violence in Congo-Brazzaville, in Readings in African
Politics, edited by T. Young, Oxford: James Currey.
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Introduction
95% CI
Fitted values
.5
.4
.3
.2
1970
1975
1980
year
1985
1990
.1
1995
Figure 2.3. Reports of militias by year, percent of observations.
twentieth-century Africa: rule by specialists in violence and
the militarization of civic society. In accounting for political
disorder, it pointed to three key variables: the level of public
revenues received by governments; the magnitude of temptations they face, as determined by the rewards for predation;
and the relative weight placed upon them. A moment’s reflection leads to the recognition of the possible significance of
these variables for the politics of late-century Africa.
Revenues
In the 1970s, a sharp increase in the price of oil triggered global
recession. The increased price of energy led to higher costs of
production in the advanced industrial economies, resulting in
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From Fable to Fact
the laying off of labor and a lowering of incomes. For Africa,
the result was a decrease in the demand for exports.
In Africa, as in many other developing regions, taxes on
trade constitute one of the most important sources of public
revenue. As the value of exports from Africa declined, so too
did the taxes collected by Africa’s governments. In the latter
decades of the twentieth century, then, while Africa’s people
faced a “growth tragedy” (Easterly and Levine 1997), its states
faced a crisis of public revenues. The break in the global economy was sharp and unanticipated; and the recovery of public finance required comprehensive and protracted restructuring, involving changes not only in tax rates but also in policies
toward trade and industrial development.
The economic forces at play in late-century Africa thus
aligned with the conditions in the fable, reducing the revenues
of governments. Within the framework of the fable, the decline
in public revenues represents a decline in the rewards from
public service. In the face of such a reduction, those who control the means of violence find the income derived from the
protection of civilians declining relative to the returns from
predation. By the logic of the fable, they would therefore be
more likely to turn to predation. Rather than providing security, those who controlled the state would become a source of
insecurity, as they sought to extract revenue from the wealth
of their citizens.
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Introduction
Discount Rate
In the fable, if the government becomes more impatient or
insecure, the rewards that accrue to those who act as guardians
decline in value; so, too, the penalties that would be imposed
were they to revert to predation. As the “shadow of the future”8
thus dissipates, the level of temptation rises: Immediate benefits weigh more heavily than future losses, and incumbents
may become more predatory, provoking state failure.
Returning to the empirical record, in the late 1980s, Africa
underwent a period of political reform. With the end of the
Cold War, the “third wave” of democratization9 swept across
the continent and governments that in the 1980s had been
immune to political challenges now faced organized political opponents. As seen in Figure 2.4, whereas from the
early 1970s to the mid-1980s, more than 80% of the countryyear observations contained no- or one-party systems, by the
mid 1990s, more than 50% experienced multiparty systems.
With the shift to multiparty politics, those who presided over
Africa’s authoritarian governments faced an unanticipated
increase in the level of political risk. Few had prepared themselves to compete at the polls; some surely would have chosen
8
9
The phrase comes from Axelrod, R. (1985), The Evolution of Cooperation,
New York: Basic Books.
Huntington, S. P. (1991), The Third Wave, Norman, OK: Oklahoma University Press.
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From Fable to Fact
60
50
40
Percentage of
Country Years 30
No-Party
One-Party
Multiparty
20
10
0
197074
197579
198084
198589
199095
Figure 2.4. Political competition over time.
to govern with more restraint had they known that they might
someday be forced from political office and shorn of the protection it afforded. Incumbents became less secure. And by the
logic of the fable, they would therefore find the modest rewards
that accrue to political guardians less attractive, and the fear
of future punishment less daunting, increasing the temptation
to engage in predation.
Resources
To a degree that exceeds any other region of the world, the
economies of Africa are based on the production of precious
minerals, gemstones, petroleum, and other precious commodities. These resources pose a constant temptation to those
with military power. Were they to shift from guardian to predator, their future prosperity would nonetheless be ensured,
underpinned by the income generated by natural resources.
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Introduction
Consider the case of Nigeria, where, in the words of Bill
Dudley (1982, p. 92): “[T]he oil boom was a disaster . . . ” – one
made worse by military rule. As Dudley states:
[T]he effect of the oil boom was to convert the military political decision-makers . . . into a new property-owning, rentier
class working in close and direct collaboration with foreign
business interests with the sole aim of expropriating the surpluses derived from oil for their private and personal benefit
(Dudley 1982, p. 116).
Consider, too, the Sudan or Chad, following the discovery of oil. In both, incumbent regimes turned to repression,
the one harrying the Dinka and the other the Sara. Resource
wealth thus appears to shape the behavior of elites. In the
face of dwindling public resources or insecure political futures,
given the availability of wealth from appropriable resources,
they could greet with equanimity a future of political disorder.
Those immersed in environments richly endowed by nature
would therefore be willing to take actions that rendered others
insecure, thus triggering state failure.
Conclusion
The logic of the fable highlights the importance of public
revenues, democratization, and natural resources and the
manner in which they impinge upon the possibility of political
order. As we have seen, the elements that affect political order
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From Fable to Fact
in the fable parallel political forces that shaped the politics of
the continent in the later decades of the twentieth century.
While many who have studied Africa have emphasized
the political importance of economic collapse, the “resource
curse,” and the relationship between political competition and
political conflict, this account focuses on the logic that systematically links these forces to the political incentives that underlie state failure. Being abstract, the logic is also adaptable; it
can play out in a variety of forms. Consider the nature of the
groups that may – or may not – transmute into militias. In
one setting, they may be the youth wings of political parties;
in another, regional coalitions; and in a third, ethnic groups.
The same applies to the specialists in violence. In some settings, the military rule; clearly the military specialize in the
use of violence. In other instances, it is civilians who govern. Even a civilian head of state presides over police, public
prosecutors, and a prison system; by bringing them to bear
upon citizens, he too can transform the state into an instrument for predation. In still other instances, the civil service
assumes the role of a specialist in violence, using its command
of the bureaucracy to redistribute income from the citizens
to themselves. Different actors can thus fulfill the major roles
in the fable, but their parts are inscribed in a common script.
By the choices they make, they animate the sources of political
order, induce state failure, thereby enacting the tragedy that
engulfed late-century Africa.
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Sowing the Seeds
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3
Political Legacies
B
y convention, 1960 marks the year of independence in
Africa.1 Shortly after independence, Africa’s new states
faced two withering critiques, one mounted by Franz Fanon
(1963) and a second by Rene Dumont (1962). Although their
indictments overlap, Fanon’s targeted their politics whereas
Dumont’s focused on their policies. In this chapter, I analyze the nature of post-independence politics, emphasizing
in particular the nature of political institutions. In Chapter 4,
I address the policies chosen by Africa’s governments in the
post-independence era.
As reported in Chapter 2, by the late 1970s, in more than
eighty percent of the country years,2 opposition parties failed
to challenge incumbent heads of state, most often because
it was illegal for them to do so (Figure 2.4), and in roughly
1
2
Of the forty-six states in our sample set of countries, only six had achieved
independence prior to 1960; in 1960 alone, fifteen became sovereign.
The sample covers a panel of forty-six countries over twenty years. A single
observation therefore constitutes a country year, e.g., Zimbabwe in the
year 1970. Thus the origins of this awkward term.
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Sowing the Seeds
one-third of the country years, military officers served as
heads of state (Figure 2.2). The political institutions of postindependence Africa were thus authoritarian. For late-century
Africa, the consequence was an increased likelihood of political disorder.
Throughout this chapter, I repeatedly draw illustrations
from Zambia’s political history. Box 3.1 provides a synopsis,
to which the reader may refer while seeking to master the several narratives. Map 3.1 outlines the boundaries of Zambia’s
provinces, whose political leaders jockeyed for top positions
in the ruling party and national government.
The Incumbent’s Dilemma
When colonial regimes departed from Africa, they orchestrated
their retreat by holding elections and exiting midst the political din. While competitors for office championed the cause
of independence and denounced the evils of colonialism, a
notable feature of their campaigns was the stress they placed
on seizing the “fruits of independence.”
In a careful study of the city of Abidjan, Michael Cohen
(1974) explores the use of power in Cote d’Ivoire. Rural backers of the ruling party, he noted, used their political connections to move from provincial towns to the national capital
(Cohen 1974). Some had been appointed to the boards of stateowned corporations, which produced “palm oil, hardwood,
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Political Legacies
Box 3.1. Political highlights, post-independence Zambia
– Zambia achieved independence in 1964, with the UNIP (the United
National Independence Party) as the governing party and ANC (the
African National Congress) as the opposition.
– High office in the governing party translated into high posts in the government. Kenneth David Kaunda, president of UNIP, became president of Zambia as well, and Reuben Kamanga, a politician from the
Eastern Province and vice president of UNIP, served also as vice
president of Zambia.
– In 1967, UNIP held internal party elections. A Bemba-speaking bloc
captured a majority of the seats in the Central Committee of the
ruling party and Simon Kapwepwe, a Bemba-speaker from Northern
Province, displaced Reuben Kamanga as vice president.
– In the subsequent general election, Barotse Province (also known
as Western Province) joined the Central and Southern provinces in
support of ANC.
– In 1969, the president dissolved the quarrelsome Central Committee
of UNIP, Eastern Province politicians resumed their posts, and Reuben
Kamanga returned as vice president.
– In 1971, the Bemba-speaking politicians, led by Simon Kapwepwe,
defected from UNIP, the ruling party, and joined the opposition.
rubber . . . and construction equipment” (ibid., pp. 24–5). Others received prized plots of land in the low-density townships, where they built homes, and in the high-density areas,
where they constructed new enterprises. As they worked their
way up the political hierarchy, Cohen writes, the backers of
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Map 3.1. Provinces of Zambia. Note: Ndola is the capital of the
Copperbelt. Source: www.answers.com/topic/ZM-Provinces.png.
the ruling party achieved even more desirable addresses.
“[A]dministrative and political control of urban land concessions . . . turns out to be an extraordinarily sensitive measure
of political status within the ruling class,” he writes: “Administrative appointments or promotions are often accompanied
by approval of an individual’s application for land. . . . ” (ibid.,
pp. 44–5). Cohen concludes with a depiction of a housing pyramid, in which the “ministers live in luxurious European-style
villas” (p. 47) while their subordinates dwelt in “smaller but
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very luxurious homes in Cocody,” a prosperous suburb (p. 48).
To the powerful, he writes, went the rewards: “[T]he winning
coalition” used its power to achieve “wealth and position . . . ”
(p. 6).
Cote d’Ivoire achieved independence in 1960; Zimbabwe,
two decades later. As documented by Norma Kriger (2003),
freedom fighters, political organizers, and rank-and-file members of Zimbabwe’s ruling party began agitating for the rewards
of independence. Under intense political pressure from the
ruling party, the Ministry of Home Affairs hired 3,500 freedom
fighters; the Ministry of Local Government, 2,600 more. The
Ministry of Health had to sign on 2,000 and the Central Intelligence Organization more than 1,000 (ibid., p. 178). Once they
secured jobs, Kriger writes, the militants agitated for additional
benefits: compensation for losses incurred during the struggle for independence, pensions, loans, and land. The political
movement that seized the state thus subsequently “built a violent and extractive political order” (ibid., p. 5), as the victors
continued to agitate for the fruits of independence.
The pattern has been documented for socialist Zambia
(Szeftel 1978) as well as capitalist Nigeria (Schatz 1977). As
described by Dumont (1962) and Fanon (1963), independence
represented the capture of the state by local political elites who
then used power to accumulate wealth.
The ambitions of the elites was equaled by the aspirations
of the electorate. Thus Barkan, in his study of elections in
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post-independence Kenya (1976, 1986); Hayward and Kandeh,
in their study of Sierra Leone (1987); and Hayward, when he
turned to the study of Ghana (1976), report that constituents
viewed politicians as their agents whose job it was to bring
material benefits to the local community – jobs, loans, or cash.
Those in Kenya, Barkan notes, stoked the fires of political ambition, inciting candidates to bid for political support by contributing funds for the construction of local projects (Barkan
1976). The result, as Allen writes of Benin, was “the exchange
of blocs of votes . . . for valued goods. . . . ” (1989, p. 22). Competitive elections came to resemble a political marketplace, in
which votes were exchanged for material benefits.
Analysis
In 1983, Gerald Kramer (1983) explored the nature of political
competition in a world in which incumbents and challengers
compete by distributing material benefits.3 In his analysis, the
voters value private consumption and party labels and the
politicians control a fixed stock of material goods. In the competition for votes, the incumbents move first: They distribute
benefits in a way designed to return to office, while preserving
as large a portion as possible for their own consumption. Once
3
See also Groseclose, T., and J. M. Snyder (1996), “Buying Supermajorities,”
American Political Science Review 90(2): 303–15.
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the governing party has proposed its allocation, the opposition
then responds with a counteroffer. In this competition, Kramer
asks, how will incumbents and challengers behave? How will
they play the game?
When seeking to unseat the incumbent and to do so at least
expense, Kramer argues, the challenger will bid for the support
of those who may be disadvantaged under the incumbent’s
rule. By offering slightly more than what the incumbent has
provided, the challenger can capture their votes and weaken
the incumbent’s coalition. He can then devote the rest of his
resources to obtaining the additional votes necessary to secure
a majority. The costs of this strategy will of course be higher the
greater the degree to which the voters identify with the party
in power.
Anticipating the strategy of the challenger, Kramer argues,
the incumbent’s best strategy will be to distribute benefits
widely. Should he fail to give a segment of the electorate benefits equal to those enjoyed by others, then he simply will have
lowered the costs to the challenger of assembling a sufficient
number of votes to unseat him.4 The incumbent will therefore
distribute his resources uniformly across all members of the
electorate.
4
In addition, if he spends more on one segment of the electorate than upon
others, he could lower his own costs – and increase the resources that he
could retain for his own consumption – by reducing the differential.
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Turning to the voters, Kramer advances the argument an
additional step by asking: What if they were to behave strategically? What if they were to back political parties instrumentally, rather than out of an unreasoned sense of loyalty?
Behaving strategically, Kramer argues, the voters, in pursuit of
private benefits, would reduce their level of party loyalty. The
incumbent can purchase the votes of those who strongly identify with the ruling party relatively cheaply; the support of those
less loyal would command a higher price. As Kramer demonstrates, when the voters learn to play the system to their advantage they will then extract all the benefits on offer. Thus the
incumbent’s dilemma: Pursuing power to accumulate wealth,
they find themselves having to surrender their ill-gotten gains
to retain political office.
Did not the history of political competition in Zambia lend
support to Kramer’s argument, it would be easy to dismiss his
analysis as overstylized, abstract, and therefore divorced from
the realities of African politics.
The Example of Zambia
When Zambia became independent in 1964, it was governed
by UNIP (the United National Independence Party), which
had won majorities in all but Central and Southern provinces,
where the opposition ANC (the Africa National Congress)
held sway. In local council elections, legislative elections,
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bi-elections, and general elections, the governing party relentlessly targeted the opposition’s bailiwick. In each round of the
elections, it flooded the two provinces with organizers, providing them with housing, running money, and access to petrol
from the government’s stores. Most relevant for this discussion was the theme of the government’s campaigns: “It pays to
belong to UNIP.” From the government’s point of view, those
who supported the opposition had merely increased the price
of their political loyalty. By refurbishing schools, grading roads,
and distributing public monies through local development
agencies, the government vigorously bid for votes from the
heartland of the opposition.
Naturally, political leaders in other regions deciphered the
lesson to be drawn from the government’s efforts. Most relevant is the response of those from Luapula, a province long
loyal to the governing party. While politicians from the Northern Province dominated the Central Committee and therefore
the cabinet as well, the government built a well-surfaced road,
a railway, and an oil pipeline through Northern Province to the
coast. Political leaders from Luapula Province began to feel
that their colleagues from Northern Province were reaping a
disproportion of the benefits from holding office. By lowering
the level of their loyalty to UNIP, the politicians from Luapula
reasoned, they could increase the price of their support for
the incumbent regime and secure a larger share of the spoils
(Bates 1976). The flirtation of the “Luapulaists” with defection
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adumbrated later revolts, as other regional blocs listed their
grievances and maneuvered to extract benefits from those in
power.
From the government’s point of view, the costs of retaining
office had risen. Threatened with additional provincial defections and thus with the loss of power, the president empanelled a commission to explore the electoral rules; he charged
the commission with enquiring into the merits of single-party
rule. As documented by Larmer (2006), the commission
solemnly convened hearings in each and every region. Having
heard testimony in favor and against the abolition of opposition parties, it sensibly performed the task for which it had in
fact been convened: It recommended that Zambia become a
one-party state.
While the case does not map as clearly onto the matrix of
Kramer’s model as does that of Zambia, the post-independence politics of Benin suggests similar forces at play. “Resources,” Allen writes (1989), “were necessarily limited, but expansion and retention of support implied an ever-increasing
pressure for allocation of resources. . . . ” (p. 25). The competition for support led to a twenty percent increase in public
employment and a forty percent increase in public expenditure – all in the first five years of independence. But then the
government encountered a critical constraint: the unwillingness of the central bank, which was controlled by France, to
underwrite further increases in spending. By the late 1960s,
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Allen writes, it had become apparent to all that the system
based on the competitive supply of “pork” could no longer be
sustained (ibid.). The governing elite then put an end to electoral competition.
As in Zambia, in Benin – and elsewhere – incumbents
formed single-party regimes. In other instances, and especially under military rulers, the incumbents formed no-party
systems. In the single-party regime, the cabinets were dominated by top officials from the ruling party; in the no-party
system, the presidents formed cabinets as if picking a personal staff. In either case, in response to the crisis of clientelism, in Allen’s phrasing (Allen 1989), or to the high costs
of securing wealth from power, in the language of this study,
incumbents changed the structure of the political game. They
created authoritarian governments.
The New Political Game
Even after the banning of party competition, competitive political forces remained, but they played out within the regime. It
was the head of state, rather than the voter, who now became
the object of competitive bidding, as minor apparatchiks jockeyed for recognition and competed for political favor and,
while doing so, marked down the price of their political loyalty. Political sycophancy replaced constituency service as the
best strategy for those with ambitions for office.
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Given the new structure of political competition, it was the
supplier rather than the demander of political favors who now
held the advantage. In the game of authoritarian politics, the
head of state controlled both access to material benefits and
control of the means of coercion. And it was to the chief executive that wealth and power now flowed.
In most African states, major financial institutions fell
under the control of the chief executive. Allen (1989) notes
that presidents in Francophone West Africa kept the ministry
of planning in their portfolios, not because they were committed to the formulation of development plans but rather
because these ministries received, and disbursed, foreign aid;
by controlling them, the president controlled a major source
of foreign exchange. In the case of Benin, he noted, the foreign
aid channeled through this ministry totaled $600 million in
1980–83 and “thus matched the size of the recurrent budget”
(Allen 1989, p. 52). In countries outside of the Francophone
zone, the president often controlled the central bank. According to Erwin Blumenthal,5 the national bank of Zaire maintained such accounts in Brussels, Paris, London, and New York
registered in the name of the national president (Blumenthal
1982).
5
Blumenthal had been dispatched by the International Monetary Fund to
restructure and manage the finances of Zaire.
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In addition to the financial bureaucracy, the president controlled the means of coercion. Policing remains a national, not
a local, activity throughout most of Africa. The office of the
president oversaw the ministry of interior. The attorney general, the official prosecutor for the state; the special branch;
and the prison system – in most countries, these agencies
lodged within the office of the president. In addition, the president controlled special military forces, many organized to
suppress internal opposition rather than to defend against
external threats. Examples would include Robert Mugabe’s
Fifth Brigade, which unleashed a reign of terror in opposition areas within five years after independence, or Kwame
Nkrumah’s President’s Own Guard Regiment (POGR), sometimes referred to as his “private army” (Meredith 2005, p. 19).
Consider, too, the military units that reported to the president
of Zaire. Among them numbered:
A Civil Guard, commanded by his brother-in-law, Kpama
Baramoto;
A Special Research and Surveillance Brigade, commanded
by General Blaise Bolozi, also related to the President by
marriage;
A Special Action Forces, a paramilitary unit, commanded
by Honore Ngabanda Nzambo-ku-Atumba, a close aide
of Mobutu and his chief of intelligence;
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and a Special Presidential Division, by all accounts the
most effective unit of them all, commanded by General Nzimbi Ngabale, also a “close relative” (NzongolaNtalaja 2002, p. 154).
With control over wealth and the means of coercion,
authoritarian regimes were able to play a game that differed
from that played in the era of multiparty politics. As a monopoly supplier of political favors, the president could individually tailor his political offers. Thus Kenneth Kaunda could
secure the loyalty of Mainza Chona at lower cost, given the
latter’s lack of a strong political base, than he could Simon
Kapwepe, who enjoyed a large following. Or Desire Mobutu
could recruit Barthelemy Bisegimana to serve as his chief of
staff at low cost, given the latter’s ambiguous standing as a
“citizen” of Rwandan extraction, but had to tolerate the barbs
and indulge (some of ) the whims of Étienne Tshiesekedi with
his strong local backing (Nzongola-Ntalaja 2004). And rather
than having to allocate resources in a universalistic and egalitarian manner, the chief executive could employ them to
assemble a team of just sufficient political weight for winning.
With control over the means of coercion, the president was
positioned to make take-it-or-leave-it offers; with control over
bounteous benefits and fearsome sanctions, he could prevent
efforts by others to collude. The winning coalition would therefore not be egalitarian and universalistic, but rather unequal
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and minimum winning (Baron and Ferejohn 1989). And by
assembling a ruling coalition of small size, the president could
divert a larger portion of the “national pie” to his own bank
account.
The Shrinking Political Arena
In post-independence Africa, most states became authoritarian (see Figures 2.2 and 2.4): Rather than having to distribute
benefits in a universalistic manner, incumbents could now
allocate them more narrowly, thereby retaining a greater portion for themselves.
Once thus reconfigured, the political order appeared increasingly to narrow; in the words of Kasfir (1976), in the 1970s,
it was “shrinking” in size.6 In search of resources to consume
and to expend in the pursuit of power, elites continued to engage in extraction; their taxes were levied universally. But by
channeling benefits to those whom they favored, the elites
could offset the costs they inflicted upon those in whose loyalty
they sought to invest. The value of the (net) benefits would
increase as the number of clients declined, thus generating
incentives for the insiders to narrow the definition of what it
meant to be loyal.7 Incentives thus dictated a logic of exclusion.
6
7
The phrase is taken from Kasfir, N. (1976), The Shrinking Political Arena,
Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
This analysis draws upon Adam, C. S., and S. A. O’Connell (1999),
“Aid, Taxation, and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Economics and
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The criterion for exclusion varied. Politicians often played
the nationality card: They thereby sought to exclude foreigners
from employment, as in Cote d’Ivoire (Cohen 1974), or from
ownership of land, as in Zaire (Lemarchand 2003; NzongolaNtalaja 2004). In Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire, they invoked
national origins to discredit presidential candidates – Kenneth
Kaunda and Alassane Outarra, respectively – arguing that they
had been born to immigrant parents.
Politicians also sought to restrict the benefits provided by
government to members of the ruling party. In single-party
states, those who were not members could not aspire to public office or to a position in the public portion of the economy.
In Sierra Leone, Kpundeh records, clause 139 (3) of the constitution of the ruling party provided that “no one can be
appointed or continue to be a permanent secretary ‘unless he
is a member of the recognized party’” that is, of the All People’s
Congress (APC), the governing party (Kpundeh 1995, p. 65). So,
too, in Zaire: When drafting the 1973 regulations for the service, the civil service commissioner stated “special emphasis,
among the conditions required for recruitment, is placed on
party militancy and Zairian nationality” (Gould 1980, p. 67).
And in Senegal, Boone writes, “licenses were granted to the
Politics 11(3): 225–54; and Bueno de Mesquita, B., A. Smith, et al. (2003),
The Logic of Political Survival, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. See also
Kasara, K. (2007), “Tax Me If You Can,” American Political Science Review
101(1): 159–72.
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bons militants of the UPS [the Senegalese Progressive Union,
the ruling political party]” (Boone 1990, as quoted in Tangri
1999, p. 75).
To achieve a deeper familiarity with the meaning of singleparty rule, I turn once again to the case of Zambia. After President Kaunda reinstated the Eastern Province politicians to
their posts in UNIP’s Central Committee (see Box 3.1), several Bemba-speaking leaders defected and formed an opposition party. The government responded by filing trumpedup charges of murder and assault and detained the dissident
leaders.
When Simon Kapwepwe, the Bemba-speaking vice president, also defected from UNIP, the government realized that
it stood to lose political support in the Luapula, Northern, and
Copperbelt provinces – all dominated by Bemba-speakers –
and so it could be left in control of fewer than one-half of
the provinces in Zambia. The government therefore sought to
manipulate the electoral process. Seats in Parliament, it was
ruled, belonged to the party, not the person; and when a member crossed the floor, her seat then became vacant, necessitating a bi-election, which it contested vigorously and violently, supporting its candidates with the resources of the state.
The government also reverted to repression. When those who
defected from the ruling party sought reelection to Parliament,
they found their permits for meetings denied, their campaign
posters defaced, and their supporters intimidated by gangs
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of youths and squads of police. In January 1972, one such
gang assaulted Simon Kapwepwe. In February, the government
banned his party and rounded up and imprisoned more
than 100 of its leaders. Many were beaten, some were tortured, and, as already noted, Zambia became a one-party state
(Gertzel, Baylies et al. 1984; Larmer 2006).
Following the end of multiparty politics, membership in the
ruling party became a form of citizenship. In 1970, the Provincial Conference of UNIP resolved that “the UNIP membership
card should be made a legal document for the purpose of identification and holders of the card should be given preferential
treatment over non-holders in such spheres as employment,
promotions, markets, loans, business, housing and all socioeconomic activities” (Larmer 2006, pp. 36–7). Ordinary people
could not board public transport, cross bridges or pontoons,
or transact in public markets without producing a party card.
Those with educations and finances could not hold directorships or posts in state industries, qualify for bursaries or loans,
or secure the kinds of positions to which they aspired: ones
with a housing allowance, a limousine, and opportunities for
travel abroad. By tightly circumscribing the range of potential political beneficiaries, Zambia’s political elite more tightly
restricted access to economic opportunities.
In some instances, the logic that drove the politics of exclusion appears to have culminated in the formation of a truly
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miniscule elite. In Rwanda, for example, President Juvenel
Habyarimana, close family members, and senior members of
the family of his wife dominated the financial ministries, the
security services, and the ruling party. That the word akasu, or
small house, came to refer to this group underlines the diminutive size of the inner circle (Prunier 1998). In Kenya, Jomo
Kenyatta, his sons, his wives, and their relatives were referred
to as the “royal family.” Burundi was governed by a small group
from Bururi; Zaire by the “Ngbandi” clique from Equateur; and
Togo by the Kabye from Kara in the north.
To comprehend the capacity of such small groups to remain
in power, it is useful to recall that the security services in
Kenya were headed by the president’s in-law; that Equateur,
Bururi, and Kara provided the military elite in Zaire, Burundi,
and Togo, respectively; and that the akasu headed a security
apparatus that in April 1994 proved capable of killing 800,000
Rwandans.
The restructuring of African political institutions thus triggered a logic of exclusion, resulting in political privilege and
economic inequality. Implicit in these transformations lay as
well the strengthening of incentives for political elites to deal
in private rather than public goods.
Consider a district of 20,000 people, each expecting “his”
or “her” politician to provide one dollar in benefits. The creation of one public good, producing a dollar’s worth of benefits
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for each resident, would be likely to cost less than the placing
of a dollar in the pocket of each resident. In general, as the
number of persons who claim benefits from the political elite
rises, the cost advantage to politicians of providing benefits in
the form of public rather than private goods increases as well.
As Africa’s political elite restricted the scope of those entitled
to the benefits of independence, this advantage declined. The
shrinking of the political arena thus led to a reduction in the
incentives for those who sought positions of power to reward
their followers with public goods. Private benefits drove out
public goods as the coin of the political realm.8
Conclusion
In this chapter, I have argued that searching for wealth and
power, political elites reconfigured African political institutions, transforming them from multi- to single- or no-party systems or replacing civilian governments with military regimes.
They also narrowed the range of those entitled to political benefits. Rather than political independence serving the collective welfare, then, it instead conferred narrowly circumscribed
privileges upon those who won out in the competition for political office.
8
This analysis builds upon Adam, C. S., and S. A. O’Connell (1999), “Aid,
Taxation, and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Economics and Politics 11(3): 225–54; and Bueno de Mesquita, B., A. Smith, et al. (2003), The
Logic of Political Survival, Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.
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During the struggle for independence, Africa’s citizens
had embraced politics. In response to the political realities
about them, however, in the post-independence era, they
increasingly came to view their leaders as a source of insecurity
and the state as a source of threat rather than of well-being.
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4
Policy Choices
F
ocusing on the determinants of economic growth in the
post-independence period, researchers from the Africa
Economic Research Consortium (AERC) isolated a set of “antigrowth” syndromes: styles of policymaking that reduce the rate
at which national economies could grow (Ndulu, Collier et al.
2007). Most common is the combination of policies that they
designate as “control regimes,” which led to:
1.
A closed economy.
2.
The distortion of key prices in the macroeconomy.
3.
The promotion and regulation of industries.
4.
The regulation of markets.
In this chapter, I shall describe these policies and discuss
their origins and their consequences. Control regimes are economically costly, and I shall explain why incumbents nonetheless retained them, even after their costs were known. The
reason, I argue, is that the policies generated political benefits for Africa’s authoritarian regimes. They provided elites
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with sources of income and furnished means for transforming even declining economies into political organizations,
enabling politicians to recruit political dependents, willing to
fight – if necessary – to keep them in power. While yielding
political advantages, however, these policies contributed to
the subsequent collapse of Africa’s states.
The Content of Control Regimes
As reported by the AERC researchers, governments that adopt
control regimes regulate trade, manipulate the interest and
exchange rates, and develop close ties with urban-based
industries.
The Control of Trade
In the post-independence period, governments imposed tariffs and quantitative controls on a wide range of industrial products. To sell their goods in Africa’s markets, foreign firms then
had to “jump over” these barriers and to invest in the plant and
equipment that would enable them to produce and thus market their goods locally. These policies most frequently targeted
the goods most commonly consumed by the residents of poor
societies: processed foods, beverages, textiles, shoes, blankets,
kerosene, and other consumer products. In at least one case,
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Zambia, the government severely restricted the importation of
automobiles; and for a brief and inglorious moment, automobiles were produced in Livingstone, a small urban center on
the southern border of the country (Elliott 1971).
Macroeconomic Policies

Given the low level of industrialization, investors wishing to
establish new firms had to import plant and equipment from
abroad. To lower the costs of such investments, governments
restructured financial markets. Creating banks that targeted
“commerce,” “industry,” or more broadly “development,” they
made available loans at low rates of interest to those seeking
to invest in projects to which they accorded a high priority.
Outside of the Franc zone, they issued their own currencies.
Many then employed their control over the banking system to
set the rate at which this currency could be exchanged for currencies from abroad. By overvaluing their currency, they set
the exchange rate to the advantage of importers: Because they
could purchase foreign “dollars” more cheaply, those seeking
to invest in local industry could then import plant and equipment at lower cost. Trade barriers having already been set in
place, their goods remained protected against foreign competition, whose products would have gained a price advantage
as a result of the revaluation of the local currency.
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Industrial Regulation
Governments that implemented control regimes also implemented regulatory policies that enhanced the profitability
of firms. By licensing, they discouraged entry and protected
established producers. When governments themselves owned
firms, the governments were certain to prevent new firms
from competing with established producers; public enterprises then remained as the monopoly suppliers of their products. Moreover, because governments subsidized the costs of
capital, many firms adopted capital-intensive technologies;
they then tended to operate most profitably when producing
near full capacity. Because the protected markets of Africa were
small, the result was the creation of highly concentrated industries, with but one or two large firms in each, with firms operating at low capacity and therefore at high cost. But because the
noncompetitive structure of the domestic market conferred
on firms the power to set prices, they could remain privately
profitable, even while highly inefficient.
The Incidence of Costs and Benefits
When governments artificially increased the value of their currencies, the benefits that they conferred upon the importers
of capital equipment were matched by the costs they inflicted
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on exporters. When foreign dollars converted into fewer cedi
(the unit of currency of Ghana), or other African currencies,
exporters experienced a reduction in their incomes. In Africa’s
agrarian economies, most exporters were farmers, who produced coffee, cocoa, sugar, cotton, sisal, and other crops for
foreign markets. When governments artificially increased the
value of their currencies, they may have protected the profits of industrial firms by imposing tariffs and quantitative
restrictions on imports, but they rarely offered similar protection to farmers. Producers of rice in West Africa therefore
found themselves competing in local markets with imports
from Louisiana, and producers of cassava in Central Africa
faced competition from bakers advantaged by the low costs of
imported wheat. Trade policies were thus biased against the
exporters of cash crops and the producers of food crops as
well.
When governments regulated urban industries, they protected the profits of urban firms: By limiting competition,
they granted them the power to set prices to their advantage.
When governments regulated agriculture, they conferred market power on consumers: They created monopsonies for the
purchase of both export and food crops. Governments purchased the cash crops at a low domestic price, sold them at
the prices prevailing in international markets, and deposited
the difference in the public treasury. They purchased the food
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crops at prices set to ensure that soldiers, bureaucrats, and
urban workers would be assured of low cost food.
In the 1960s, the majority of Africa’s population lived in
the rural areas and agriculture constituted the largest single
industry. The policies thus favored the interests of a minority
over those of the vast majority of the population in most states.
As noted by Dumont (1966), “In May 1961 a number of farmers
north of Brazzaville said to me: ‘Independence isn’t for us; it’s
only for the city people’” (p. 17). It was precisely this property
of post-independence policies that Dumont condemned.
Control regimes thus benefited the urban and industrial
sector; indeed, given the aspiration for industrial development
that motivated many policymakers, this was their intent. But
they did so at the expense of the great majority of Africa’s population – those who lived in the rural areas – and the greatest
of Africa’s industries – agriculture.
For these policies to persist, opposition to them had to be
demobilized. The most likely opponents would be farmers;
and because they constituted a political majority, the farmers
were dangerous. The political commitment to control regimes
could persist, then, only insofar as political challengers
lacked an incentive to pursue electoral majorities. Authoritarian institutions thus underpinned the imposition of control
regimes.
The relationship between political institutions and public
policies is captured by the data in Figures 4.1 and 4.2.
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Percent Observations
Policy Choices
70
60
50
40
30
Percent Control Regimes
20
10
0
Military
Civilian
All
Percent Observations
Figure 4.1. Control regimes and military government.
70
60
50
40
Percent Control Regimes
30
20
10
0
No-Party
One-Party
Multiparty
All
Figure 4.2. Control regimes and party system.
As indicated in Figure 4.1, military governments were far
more likely than civilian ones to adopt control regimes. From
the period 1970–1995, in more than 50% of the country years,
if the data registered the presence of military regimes, they
registered the presence of control regimes as well. As shown
in Figure 4.2, one- and no-party regimes were also more likely
to adopt control regimes, with more than 50% of the observations that centered on no- or single- party systems exhibiting
control regimes as well, as compared with but 30% of those
with multiparty systems. In this study, I label as authoritarian
governments that are headed by soldiers rather than civilians
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and those civilian regimes that have banned the formation of
opposition parties. The data thus suggest an elective affinity
between authoritarian politics and interventionist policies in
the post-independence period.1
Economic Costs and Political Benefits
Given that agriculture is the largest single industry in most
African countries, it is not surprising that the economies of
countries that imposed control regimes appear to have grown
more slowly than others. The AERC research team measured
the economic impact of four major “anti-growth” syndromes
(Ndulu, Collier et al. 2007). The first was state failure. Next
came “inter-temporal redistribution,” which most commonly
occurred when governments would consume rather than save
the proceeds of resource booms. A third was ethnic or regional
redistribution, when governments became the political agents
of subnational minorities. The fourth was the adoption of control regimes.
Controlling for a variety of factors that might affect growth –
the growth rate of trading partners, for example – and
1
See, too, the Appendix. Turn as well to Chapters 4 and 11 of the first volume of Ndulu, B., P. Collier, et al. (2007), The Political Economy of Economic
Growth in Africa, 1960–2000, 2 vols, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
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correcting for the impact of the growth rate on the choice
of policies, the researchers confirmed what most would have
expected: that state failure was the most damaging to growth.
When states failed in late-century Africa, growth rates fell
between 1.8% and 1.9% per annum. More surprising, perhaps,
was that they found that the imposition of a control regime
led to a loss of roughly 1.6 percentage points per annum in the
growth rate, thus rivaling the impact of state failure. State failure was relatively rare, occurring in just more than 10% of the
country years, 1970–1995. The imposition of control regimes,
however, was most decidedly not: They appear in more than
60% of the country year observations in the late 1970s and
early 1980s. The adoption of control regimes thus imposed
high costs on Africa’s economies.
If the policies harmed the economic interests of most
Africans and lowered the growth rate of national economies,
then why were they chosen? And, once chosen, why did they
remain in place? The answer, I argue, is that the policies served
political rather than economic interests.The interventionist
style of policymaking enabled governments to target benefits
to important constituencies, thus – in the short term, at least –
promoting political order. And by transforming industries and
markets into political organizations, it enabled governments
to spin webs of political obligation and thus forge the political
machines that kept them in power.
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Political Benefits
In West Africa, the richer regions lie in the southern portions,
which are heavily forested. The Sahelian regions – dry and with
uncertain rainfall – have little to offer the international economy2 ; lying inland from the coast, what little they have to offer
has necessarily to be shipped at high cost, leaving few profits for producers. Throughout West Africa, then, there exists a
disparity between the economies of the coast and interior.
Illustrative is the case of Nigeria. At the time of independence, the economy’s most important exports – cocoa, palm
oil, and other agricultural products – flowed from the south.
Not only did the south have prosperous farmers, but it also was
home to the merchants, bankers, and lawyers who provided the
services for the export industries. While the north was not rich,
it was powerful. It contained more than one-half of Nigeria’s
population. It was relatively homogeneous: The great majority of its people followed Islam and considered themselves to
be Hausa-Fulani. And its emirates provided a means for organizing its people. While relatively poor, then, the region could
marshal formidable political forces.
By dint of the north’s large size and degree of organization,
following independence, its politicians assumed control of the
executive branch of the federal government. Pursuing a policy
2
The exception is cotton, which long has faced high tariff barriers in global
markets.
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of import substituting industrialization (Helleiner 1966; Little,
Scitovsky et al. 1970; Schatz 1977), the government promoted
the formation of domestic industries, many of which it convinced to locate in the north. It also placed a disproportion of
its development projects in the region. The costs of these initiatives fell largely upon the south, whose consumers paid the
higher prices that resulted from tariff protection and whose
farmers paid the taxes that financed public investments.
The south’s reaction is captured in a statement issued in
1964 by the government of the eastern region:
Take a look at what they [the North] have done. . . . Kainji Dam
Project – about £150 of our money when completed – all in the
North. . . . Bornu Railway Extension – about £75 million of our
money when completed – all in the North. . . . Military training
and ammunition factories and installations are based in the
North, thereby using your money to train Northerners to fight
Southerners. . . . Building of a road to link the dam site and the
Sokoto cement works – £7 million, when completed – all in the
North. . . . Total on all these projects about £262 million (italics
in original Gboyega 1997, p. 161).
The regional tensions that marked the politics of Nigeria
found their parallel elsewhere in Africa. In Togo, General
Gnassingbé Eyadéma held power for thirty-eight years; himself from the north, Eyadéma used the powers of the state to
extract the wealth of the south for the benefit of his family, the
military, and his region. In Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, it was the
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south that tended to control the national government; but by
choosing northerners for the vice presidency (as in the case of
Ghana) or…
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