African leadership and the role of the presidency in African conflicts : a case study of Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni

Botha, Maryke (2012-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Includes bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: As a wave of political uprisings swept across North Africa since January 2011, ridding the region of longstanding autocratic leaders, presidents in Sub-Saharan Africa were still imprisoning opposition leaders, deploying military and police to clamp down on protest, and promising their citizens change - all this in a bid to avoid being ousted by their own people. Leadership has long been the main constraint on political and economic progress in Africa. This study analyses African leadership and especially the role of the presidency as a cause of conflict and instability in Africa. The modern-day African president might no longer be the absolute autocrat from yesteryear, but he still rules with awesome power and vast state resources at his disposal. African leaders have assumed an imperial character; many regard themselves as largely above the law; accountable to no one and entitled to remain in power or to pass the sceptre to their offspring. Due to this rather imperial character, conflict has been inevitable in Africa. As a theoretical basis the study proposes a framework for analysing leaders’ behavioural patterns that contribute to conflict and instability domestically as well as regionally. Six relevant behavioural patterns are identified: political deprivation, patronage and clientelism, personalisation of power, use of the military, staying to office, underdevelopment and conflict. Additionally, and as a case study, this framework is applied to Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni. Each of the six behavioural patterns are analysed and evaluated in relation to Museveni’s rule of the past 25 years. Applying the framework demonstrates how Museveni contributed to conflict across the region in Somalia, Sudan, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Museveni is found to be a power point man in the region and his imperial nature is likely to contribute to future instability and conflict in Uganda and the Great Lakes region. The study also addresses the genesis of the imperial African leader and investigates why, despite waves of democratisation and the expulsion of a few autocratic rulers in Africa in the late 1990s, the imperial character still persist today. Constitutional limitations are found to be one of the major reasons why absolute powers end up being vested in the hands of the president. Lack of proper separation of powers, and a culture conducive to suppressing the legislature and parliamentary role, provides additional reasons for this phenomenon. Furthermore, both internationally and locally, the leadership deficit in Africa is drawing continuing attention and even funding. However, in order for Africa to make progress in eradicating poor and unaccountable leadership, local initiatives should be further encouraged. The African Union Peer Review Mechanism and the African Charter on Elections, Democracy and Governance are discussed as two African initiatives; also the Mo Ibrahim Index and Prize are evaluated. Although all three these initiatives are admirable in theory, they have failed to deliver because real commitment to action is lacking in most African countries. A speedy and conclusive solution to the problem seems unlikely because of the complex nature of humans and their environment. Thus, the aim of this study is to make a contribution to the scholarly body of work regarding the causes of African conflict, focusing on the African presidency as one cause of such conflict in Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Vanaf Januarie 2011 het ’n vlaag politieke opstande Noord-Afrika getref waartydens weggedoen is met langdurige outokratiese leiers. In Afrika Suid van die Sahara het heersers egter steeds opposisieleiers opgesluit en militêre- en polisiemagte ontplooi om opstande die hoof te bied, terwyl vae beloftes aan die bevolking gemaak word oor moontlike veranderinge. Swak Afrika-leierskap word dikwels beskou as ‘n belangrike faktor wat politieke en ekonomiese vooruitgang op die vasteland strem. Hierdie studie analiseer leierskap in Afrika, veral die rol wat die president speel in die skepping van konflik en onstabiliteit. Die hedendaagse Afrika-leier mag dalk nie meer voorkom as die absolutistiese outokraat van die verlede nie, maar hy regeer steeds met oorweldigende mag en ekstensiewe staatshulpbronne tot sy beskikking. Dit is duidelik dat die Afrika-leier dikwels ‘n imperiale karakter aanneem en homself verhewe ag bo die wet. In welke geval hy dus geen verantwoording hoef te doen aan enige ander party nie. Die hoofdoelwit blyk dikwels te wees om beheer te behou. Die gevolgtrekking wat gemaak kan word, is dat die imperiale karakter van die Afrika-president tot konflik kan lei. Die teoretiese basis van hierdie studie bied ’n raamwerk om die leiers van Afrika se gedragspatrone te bestudeer wat aanleiding kon gee tot onstabilitiet asook interne-en streekskonflik. Ses gedragspatrone is geïdentifiseer om hierdie proefskrif te illustreer: politieke vervreemding; beskermheerskap en kliëntilisme; personalisering van mag; gebruik van militêre mag om aan bewind te bly; gebrek aan ontwikkeling en konflik. In besonder word hierdie raamwerk toegepas op die president van Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, as ‘n gevallestudie. Hierdeur word aangedui hoe Museveni bygedra het tot konflik, nie net in Uganda nie, maar inderwaarheid ook in Somalië, Sudan, Kenia en die Demokratiese Republiek van die Kongo (DRK) tydens sy bewind van die afgelope 25 jaar. Museveni word allerweë beskou as die “sterkman” in die streek en sy imperiale karakter sal heel waarskynlik ook in die toekoms bydra tot onstabiliteit en konflik in Uganda en die Groot- Merestreek. Hierdie studie spreek ook die oorsprong van die imperiale Afrika-leier aan en ondersoek waarom, ten spyte van die sterk strewe na demokrasie en die omverwerping van outokratiese leiers in Afrika in die laat 1990s, die imperiale karakter van sodanige leiers steeds kan voortbestaan. Konstitusionele beperkings word beskou as een van die hoofredes waarom totale mag in die hande van ‘n president beland. Gebrek aan behoorlike verdeling van mag en ‘n kultuur bevorderlik vir die onderdrukking van die wetgewende en parlementêre funksies, is bydraende redes vir hierdie verskynsel. Verder ontlok die tekortkominge van Afrikaleierskap plaaslik en internasionaal heelwat aandag en selfs befondsing. Die ideaal sou egter wees dat Afrika aangemoedig moet word om tot ‘n groter hoogte plaaslike inisiatiewe te gebruik om swak en onbevoegde leierskap te verwerp. Die African Union Peer Review Mechanism en die African Charter on Elections, Democracy and Governance word gesien as twee nuttige Afrikainisiatiewe. Ook die Mo Ibrahim Index and Prize word geëvalueer. Alhoewel al drie inisiatiewe in teorie goed blyk te wees, het dit misluk as gevolg daarvan dat ‘n verbintenis tot aksie ontbreek in die meeste Afrika lande. Waarskynlik is geen spoedige of permanente oplossing vir die konflik moontlik nie – grotendeels weens die kompleksiteit van mense en hulle omgewing. Dus is die doel van hierdie studie om ‘n bydrae te maak tot akademiese navorsing betreffende die oorsake van konflik in Afrika en dan spesifiek hoe die institusionele aard van leierskap in Afrika fungeer as ‘n bydraende oorsaak.

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