n Politeia - State reconstruction, leadership legitimacy and democratic governance in Africa

Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-8845


Africa's development crisis is primarily one of state capacity and leadership legitimacy. Building or reinforcing state capacity for effective delivery is one of the major challenges confronting African people and leaders. This article reflects on the state, leadership legitimacy and development in Africa. It argues that the low levels of state capacity and leadership legitimacy have contributed to weak performance in terms of development in Africa. The African experience of the past fifty years of independence has demonstrated that state capacity could not be reinforced through a benevolent dictator or under authoritarian leadership. Accordingly, the state should be reconstructed and leadership legitimised to increase their developmental capacity. State capacity and leadership legitimacy are promoted by constitutionalism and democracy which require the organisation of open, free and fair elections, and respect for the rule of law. A truly developmental state in Africa has to be a constitutional and democratic state under a legitimate leadership. The article concludes that the prospects for building capable states and reinforcing leadership legitimacy to achieve development are good under the AU, NEPAD and the APRM, but there are many challenges - both internal and external - that need to be overcome on the road to an African Renaissance.

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