Real or imagined local autonomy: Experiences from local government in Ethiopia, South Africa and Zimbabwe
de Visser, Jaap
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Centralized rule has been common in Africa, and almost all African countries implemented, constitutionally or otherwise, programs of centralization from the time they achieved independence from colonial rule. They did so with the declared purposes of modernization, achieving economic development and nation building (Godefroidt, Langer and Meuleman 2016). However, these lofty goals were not achieved; African countries remain characterized by underdevelopment, lack of democratic rule, corruption and ethnic-based conflicts. Many blame the centralized and extremely bureaucratized government and governance systems and decision-making processes for worsening, if not causing, these problems (Addisson 1998; Jackson 2002). In the past three or so decades, therefore, there has been a general move in Africa towards decentralization and reducing bureaucracy. This trend is part of a global movement, based on the recognition that central government was too big, inaccessible, remote and inefficient in terms of bringing about development and democratic rule (Sharma 2009).