n Africa Insight - An analysis of the role of non-governmental organisations in the social welfare policy process - a case study of Zimbabwe

Volume 45, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


Civil society and its manifestation in non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in post-colonial states is contested terrain. The growth and diverse roles of NGOs in social policy in post-colonial African states have fuelled debate. Divergent theoretical and ideological underpinnings influence the conceptualisation of civil society and its role in social policy processes. This article is based on an interpretive analysis of the role of NGOs in Zimbabwe. The neo-Tocquevillian1 and neo-Marxist views agree that NGOs have a legitimate role to play. However, perspectives on the specific roles are divergent, more so when juxtaposed against the role of the state. In this article, the context within which the role of NGOs is analysed uses Zimbabwe as a case study. The article further engages the major contextual factors influencing the evolution of NGOs and their engagement in the policy process. It focuses on the conceptual and state-civil society contestations regarding the legitimacy of NGOs as well as a qualitative analytical assessment of their impact on the social policy process. The article concludes with a number of recommendations.

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