Citizenship, Agency and Deliberative Democracy in Five SADC Countries

The latest RAU research is out. It’s a comparative analysis of five SADC countries exploring whether liberation movements that acquired government through armed struggle have a propensity for coercion in maintaining political power.


SADC is composed of countries that achieved independence through armed struggle and those that achieved this through political struggle. Many commentators have suggested that liberation movements that acquired government through armed struggle have a propensity for coercion in maintaining political power; Zimbabwe the worst at resorting to coercion(RAU2016). We examined this thesis by comparing five SADC countries; three that are governed by former liberation movements, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, with three countries that earlier achieved independence through political action. We compared these five countries through the eyes of their citizens, using the Afrobarometer Round 7 surveys in those countries.

We attempt to examine whether political history affects citizen agency, looking at a number of variables that might reflect this: political fear, political trust, government performance,and participation.

Measures were constructed for each of these variables and we included one further question on desire to emigrate as another measure of citizen satisfaction.We find that the rank order of satisfaction largely approximates that from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), with Botswana ranked highest and Zimbabwe lowest, but with South Africa and Namibia changing places. We find political fear is highest in all countries, Botswana the least, political trust is low in all five, and so is participation.

As regards political trust, it was striking that, in all five countries, trust in political parties, both the ruling party and opposition parties, was extremely low. In fact citizen agency is low in all five countries,and only a majority in Botswana are satisfied with their government’s performance. Zimbabweans are the most likely to be planning to emigrate. Thus, being governed by a former liberation movement matters less than governance in general.

Read the full research report here (1MB PDF)

Source: Research and Advocacy Unit

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