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NGOs and donors undermine the state
Tony Reeler, Research and Advocacy Unit
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always provides highly interesting perspectives on what African
citizens (as opposed to their governments) believe. Over the past
decade the Afrobarometer has demonstrated the sophistication of
African citizens’ understanding of politics, governance, and
democracy. The findings are often surprising.
recent analyses have shown the resurgence of popular support for
traditional leadership, mainly because these folk provide a buffer
for failing governments, or that youth, right across Africa, has
diminishing faith in the power of elections to bring about democracy.
The latter is clearly important in the light of the North African
revolutions, but recent research by Resnick and Casale suggests
that, whilst African youths tend to vote less and have lower levels
of partisanship, they are not more likely to protest than older
These are interesting
asides however, and we want to focus on a problem common in many
African countries, the frequently fraught relations between states,
donors, and civil society, especially NGOs. This is particularly
interesting for Zimbabwe where there are continual statements from
senior government Ministers that assert that these bodies work in
concert to effect “regime change” at the worst and undermine
the authority of the state at the least. A very recent Afrobarometer
report examined the views of African citizens about the role that
donors and NGOs play in the political lives of their countries.
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