Comparative democracy : issues of consolidation in South Africa and Zimbabwe

Nelufule, Maanda David (2002-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Democracy is understood by many to be a government for the people by the people. As far as academic or scholarly traditions are concerned however, this is a rather populist depiction of the concept. According to the intellectual tradition, democracy is such when a system of governance meets several conditions. For the purpose of this study, the institutionalist tradition or theory of democracy which sees democracy as being dependent on institutions of contestation (elections) and participation (parliament) as well as others, is an important variable. However, the very same theory on democracy is not limited to institutions as the sole requirements for democracy. For the economic determinists, the point is that whilst institutions are important for democracy, they are not sufficient. In order for there to be such, favourable socio-economic conditions are important as well and these include affluence amongst other issues. The scientific orientation of this study being comparative, it seeks to take both the institutionalist variable of elections and the economic determinist variable of affluence as operational measures of the state of democracy in South Africa and Zimbabwe. As an additional operationalisation, the issue of civil and political liberties as per Freedom House classifications is also investigated in a similar comparative manner. The outcomes of the study show that at an electoral level, South Africa's model of proportional representation in the seat allocation system gives minorities a voice as opposed to Zimbabwe's fast past the post system based on the winner takes all principle. It was also established that the electoral machinery in Zimbabwe is more chaotically arranged and thus susceptible to abuse than in South Africa. At a socio-economic level, conditions have also been found to be a lot more favourable to the consolidation of democracy in South Africa than in Zimbabwe because of a wide array of issues, the most serious one being the declining income patterns for the average Zimbabwean as compared to the South African. Though the issue of high income inequality in South Africa should be highlighted as a threat, it should also be noted that in Zimbabwe, the apparent disrespect of the rule of law has an added negative implication for Zimbabwe as Freedom House has highlighted the declining of the country from partly free of 3.4 in 1980 to a partly free of 6.5 in 2000. The overall analysis comes to the conclusion that given the findings above, it seems South Africa's democracy can still hold stronger given an accelerated equitable distribution of wealth whilst for Zimbabwe, the revitalisation of democracy needs to start from the re-engineering of institutions to the regeneration of the concept of respect for the rule of law. Thus the comparison seems to show a democracy better suited for consolidation than the other.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Demokrasie word deur talle verstaan as regering van die volk deur die volk. Hierdie is egter 'n populêre voorstelling van die konsep. Volgens intellektuele tradisies, moet 'n demokrasie aan sekere vereistes voldoen. Vir die doel van hierdie studie, word die institusionele denke aanvaar wat die demokrasie as afhanklik van sulke instellings soos mededinging (verkiesings) en deelname ('n parlement) beskou. Dieselfde denke beklemtoon ook dat instellings nie die enigste vereistes is me, byvoorbeeld vir ekonomiese deterministe, is instellings nodig maar nie genoegsaam nie. Dit beteken dat gunstige sosio-ekonomiese toestande ook moet geld, spesifieke relatiewe hoë welvaartspeile. Die wetenskaplike orientasie van hierdie studie is vergelykend. Dit vergelyk sowel ekonomiese as institusionele kriteria, asook twee state, Suid-Afrika en Zimbabwe. 'n Addisionele saak word ook geoperasionaliseer, te wete burgerlike vryhede en politieke regte. Hier word Freedom House se klassifikasies aanvaar. Die studie toon dat op die vlak van verkiesings, Suid-Afrika se proporsionele verteenwoordigingstelsel kleiner partye en minderheidspartye verteenwoordiging bied, teenoor Zimbabwe se wenner-vat-alles-stelsel. Die Zimbabwiese stelsel was meer vatbaar vir wanbestuur en onvrye en onregverdige verkiesings. Op die sosio-ekonomiese vlakke is toestande vir die konsolidasie van demokrasie in Suid-Afrika veel beter as in Zimbabwe, waarvan die vernaamste die afname in welvaartspeile in Zimbabwe is. Hierteenoor is die styging van ongelykheidsvlakke in Suid-Afrika 'n negatiewe faktor. In Suid-Afrika is vryheidsindekse van Freedom House egter steeds op 'n hoë vlak, terwyl die Zimbabwiese vlakke drasties agteruitgaan, byvoorbeeld vanaf 3.4 in 1980 tot 'n onvrye vlak van 6.5 in 2000 waar 'n punt van 7 totaal onvry is. Die konklusie is dat demokrasie in Suid-Afrika konsolideerbaar is, terwyl Zimbabwe ook instellings sal moet red van ondergang. Die herstel van regsoewereiniteit kan 'n beginpunt wees. Die vergelykings wys dus uit dat Suid-Afrika veel beter daaraan toe is as Zimbabwe.

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