07.- 11.06.

P 21: In the shadows of autonomy: Decentralized state structures and local contexts in Africa


In the shadows of autonomy: Decentralized state structures and local
contexts in Africa

Dr. Matthew Sabbi, University of Bayreuth
Dr. Lamine Doumbia, DHIP-Dakar

Short abstract:

Decentralization processes in Africa are ordinarily supposed to enhance the autonomy of local institutions to deliver local services. Against the backdrop of a strong local arena,s these processes also open up spaces and interfaces between different sets of actors inside and outside of the local bureaucracy. This creates particular challenges for processes of decentralisation. The interactions of local actors shape both public services and the character of the bureaucracy. This panel is interested in the diversity of actors, their logic of action and consequences for the activities of African municipal governments.


Long Abstract

Decentralized municipal governments in Sub-Saharan Africa have both democracy and local transformation responsibilities. Though decentralization should ordinarily enhance the autonomy of local institutions to deliver services, we find that actual public authority is co-produced through interface with actors outside of the state bureaucracies. The interface also affects the behaviour of the local bureaucracy. Surprisingly, this challenge is widely overlooked by research and by policy makers and the actors in the local political arena do not receive adequate scholarly attention. While extant studies focus on the behaviour of professionals in state bureaucracies, the aim of this panel goes a step further by integrating actors on the margins. Decentralization processes open and/or strengthen the local political arena with a host of actors and institutions including the bureaucracy, councillors, neo-traditional authorities, local ‘big men’, youth group and local movements. Some of these actors and institutions are new and follow formal state practices while others follow pre-colonial concepts and institutions to legitimize themselves. These diverse actors and interfaces altogether shape, contest and adapt to bureaucratic practices of the state. We are particularly interested in how these different logics and interfaces mimic and affect delivery of everyday municipal services. Topics of interest to this panel include among others:

  1. Who are the state and non-state actors in decentralized the municipal arena; and under what conditions do municipalities work?
  2. What innovative strategies frame encounters between municipal officials and residents/ grassroots actors and institutions?
  3. Who takes the lead in the co-production of local authority; and how autonomous are municipal administrations?
  4. How are topics on accountability and responsiveness framed and pursued by the different sets of actors?
  5. Do decentralization processes and the interfaces bring more democracy and more participation; or do decentralization processes decrease such expectations?


01 Jane Ayeko-Kümmeth: In the Shadow of Institutionality: Assessing Uganda’s ad hoc Social Accountability mechanisms (DIPF and Barazas)

Uganda has established several mechanisms and institutions to enhance social accountability and transparency. These range from formal, informal and what I call ad hoc mechanisms. In the context of Local Government this is mostly done through District Integrity Promotion Forums (DIPF) and Barazas—a platform for public engagement in local democracy and accountability. The DIFPs act as watchdogs to identify corruption tendencies at an early stage and act immediately. Whereas other accountability mechanisms are created by acts of parliament, DIPFs were created by the Directorate of Ethics and Intergrity while Barazas are a presidential directive. Both DIPFs and Barazas are neither formal nor informal mechanisms. This paper explores their effectiveness and shows that among the many shortfalls, corruption among the implementers is the biggest hinderance. This works against the very essence of their creation. It argues that creating several accountability mechanisms is not a viable strategy to increase social accountability nor curb corruption but rather inculcating moral integrity among citizens. Integrity often compels people to do things right.

Jane  Ayeko-Kümmeth  (Associate  Researcher, Bremen  International  Graduate  School  of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), University of Bremen):In the Shadow of Institutionality: Assessing Uganda’s   ad   hoc   Social   Accountability   mechanisms   (DIPF   and Barazas).


02 Aïdas Sanogo: Land Governance and Decentralized Entities in Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire

Land governance as conceived and implemented in the city of Bouaké has led to the growth of a gray zone that each actor involved in land access and property processes goes through. This paper looks into the role played by the Town Hall in the resolution of an ongoing conflict opposing a traders’ association to the Ivorian state. It more specifically analyses the case study of a public domain (réserve administrative) gone private, through a detailed account of the social actors involved in the land conflict, as well as their discourses and practices. Taken as a social actor among several others, the Town Hall refers here to an entity that operates both at the individual and the collective level. At the individual level, I look into the relationship between the traders’ association members and the Town Hall officers. At the collective level, I draw on the discourses and practices of both the traders as well as the Town Hall officers, who portray the Town Hall as an homegenous unit with regards to the initiated conflict resolution attempts.

Aïdas Sanogo is Lecturer in Anthropology at the Centre Universitaire de Manga, BurkinaFaso.


03 Antje Daniel: Multi-layered Encounters between Reclaim the City and the Capetonian municipality

Cities became more and more key points of transformation and are places for dealing with social conflicts. This is also the case in South Africa: The Capetonian social movement Reclaim the City emerged in 2017 and struggles for citizens’ rights – particularly the right for housing. Processes of gentrification challenge this right for adequate housing. Citizens can’t afford the rising cost of living and have to move. Once again, in history the most vulnerable groups of the society black and coloured people are affected by evictions. Relcaim the City together with the supporting non-governmental organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi calls for affordable housing in the inner circle of Cape Town and occupied two houses for the people who were evicted.

Based on an ethnographic field research in 2017 and 2018 the presentation investigates the different layers of interaction between Reclaim the City and the municipality. While social movement theory analysed the relation between social movements and the state from a structuralist perspective which describes political institutions and movements as entities and opposing actors I will draw a more complex picture. By focussing on multi-layered encounters between municipality and Reclaim the City the paper will show in which situations Reclaim the City avoids, contradicts or cooperates with the municipality. The municipality also reacts contradictory: On the one hand, they accept and protect the illegal occupation of Reclaim the City or integrate their ideas and advices for social housing in court cases. On the other hand, politicians try to control the movement and even co-opt it for party politics. Therefore, the interaction between Reclaim the City and the municipality show different, partly ambivalent interaction between avoidance, cooperation and resistance.

Antje  Daniel is substitute  professor/post-doc  at  the  Department  of  Development Studies, University  of  Vienna,  Austria.


04 Oscarine Chimène Mela: Gouverner la route en ville à Yaoundé: Les motomen, awara et la régulation de la circulation

Le 07 novembre 2019, le Gouverneur de la région du Centre convoque une réunion au cours de laquelle il informe les motomen des restrictions qui leur seront dorénavant imposées sur certains itinéraires dans la ville de Yaoundé. Cette décision s’intègre dans un processus plus large de salubrité en vue d’améliorer l’image de la capitale politique du Cameroun qui accueille, en avril 2020, le Championnat d’Afrique des Nations. Sur le terrain, engagés par la Communauté urbaine et plus connus sous l’appellation de "Awara", des agents de sécurité, sont chargés de veiller à l’application de cette décision dans un contexte d’envahissement du centre-ville par les motos régulièrement impliqués dans des accidents. Dans cette contribution qui s’appuie sur des données collectées dans le cadre d’une enquête qualitative, les interrogations qui nous intéressent sont les suivantes : Qui est Awara ? Comment travaille-t-il ? Quelles sont les interactions entre le personnel de ces brigades de sécurité et les motomen ? De quelle manière les premiers perçoivent-ils les seconds et inversement ? Située au croisement des problématiques de mobilité et de régulation urbaines, l’analyse ouvre sur une représentation conflictuelle du droit à la ville. Ainsi, alors que les autorités municipales, prétextant l’ordre, travaillent à la relégation des motomen à la périphérie, ces derniers revendiquent une plus grande considération.

Oscarine Chimène Mela  est Doctorante en Sociologie à l'Université de Yaoundé I, Cameroun.


05 Anja Osei: Who talks to the chief? Who builds the Party? MPs and their Local Political Networks in Three African countries

The influence of chiefs and other intermediaries on party-politics is a widely discussed topic in the research on Africa. This argument is mostly framed in the logic of local patronage networks and these relations are often described as shortcuts to the population that enhance the strategic coordination between voters and candidates in countries with weakly institutionalized political parties.

According to the works of authors like Koter, politicians must build on pre-existing networks between leaders and their followers. Not all local networks are the same, but also do not all politicians have the same access to these networks. Thus, the relationships that actually form on the ground are determined by the availability of local leaders, by the choice of a politician to use these as a resource, and by the access that he or she is granted.

While previous contributions have been interested in the effect of these networks on electoral outcomes, this paper looks at the MP as a part of the of the local network structure. Do the local networks that politicians entertain differ in any systematic way with regard to age, political faction, experience, or social capital? Women, for example, might find it harder to be integrated in local power and patronage structures, and ruling parties might be generally more successful in garnering the support of local leaders since they can make more credible promises to deliver material benefits. And finally, there might be certain categories of politicians that do not seek to build intermediary relations but rather invest into the local party.

To answer these questions, the paper uses original data on the local discussion networks of Members of Parliament (MPs) in Ghana, Togo, and Sierra Leone. Methodologically, descriptive and statistical social network analysis is used

Anja  Osei  is an independent  Research  Fellow, Dept.  of  Politics  and  Public  Administration, University of Konstanz, Germany.


06 Ewald Eisenberg, Djibo Mamane, Harouna Diallo: Decentralisation, Subsidiarity and Local Government Empowerment in Francophone West Africa

Most francophone countries of West Africa decentralisation has changed the status of local authorities by setting up a system for the democratic election of deliberative local and regional councils and executives. These local entities posess a legal personality, financial resources and management autonomy. The states which had inherited a centralized administrative organization from the colonial era have by now set up a system of decentralized communities at different levels (regional, local and sometimes and intermediate level).

In parallel with th territorial reform movement, more and more public missions have been transferred to the different levels, in particular local service provision as water, health care, education, culture, etc.

The growing role of municipalities and regions has led to a rapid increase of needs for institutional and financial empowerment of local governments and local capacity building. Local authorities need local elected representatives and collaborators who are able to meet their new responsibilities.

Transparency, accountability, responsiveness, participation in local decisional processes are important issues for anchorin local democracy. Good local governance is not naturally guaranteed. Sometimes decentralization of power goes even in parallel with a movement of decentralization of corruptive practices. It is important to provide local communities with local leaders and local staff who have internalized the principles of good local governance. That is  why training and research on how awareness and values grow is so important. The other reason for training is to increase efficacy and effectiveness by professionalizing local leaders.

There is sill not enough qualified personnel working in the local administrations. Training and a motivating status play a crucial role. These are important levers to increase the skills of local officers (in terms of knowledge, know-how, skills and attitudes).

Lack of financial capacity is also an important problem which is hampering the decentralization process. Sustainable and reliable funding is a sine qua non condition for real autonomy for local authorities.

Implementing the principle of subsidiarity has become a necessity in West Africa where the central governments have lost a big part of credibility towards their population. The new  African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralisation, Local Governance and Local Development (2018) of the African Union recognises this develpment.

But true fiscal decentralization is still lacking. Communities are generally underfunded and depend on grants and subsidies from the state and foreign donors. In most UEMOA countries, the share of local authorities in financial public resources is far less than 2% of the total mass of public finances.

Lack of qualitative and quantitative human resources prevents local authorities from working satisfactorily. Therefore the states have designed national strategies for strengthening the capacities of those involved in decentralization.

We, the above mentioned research team of researchers in the Universities of Kehl, Bamako, Niger and Senegal will point out research data and conceptual developments in order to contribute to a sustainable concept of decentralizatio,iIn particular in the field of strengthening human resources capacities and financial capacities (what “works” under which conditions,  innovative strategies to enable municipal officials to promote local development)

Ewald Eisenberg is professor in administrative sciences at the University of Applied Sciences Kehl,  Germany; Djibo  Mamane is  professor  in  law  at  the  University Abdou  Moumouni Niamey, Niger;Harouna Diallo is assistant professor at the University ofLaw and Political Sciences Bamako, Mali.


07 Drissa Tangara, Lamine Doumbia: Municipal administration and Suburban Land Management: a case study of the Commune VI municipality of Bamako District

This article aims at reporting the mechanisms for suburban land management by municipalities in Bamako, in particular the case of the commune VI of Bamako district. It seeks to understand the multiple actors’ role involved in this management of peri-urban land as well as their legal, customary mechanisms and the strategies of by- passing rules in their daily activities of this municipality. it is a contribution to the discussions of panel 21 entitled "In the shadows of autonomy: Decentralized state structures and local contexts in Africa" during the Africa Challenges Conference.

Mali experienced effective decentralization in the years 1993-1994 with the adoption of Law No. 93-008 which regulates the conditions for the free administration of municipalities in the Republic of Mali. Bamako, the capital city has six (6) municipalities (communes). The Commune VI, the largest in terms of population (469,653 inhabitants in 2009) and area (70 km2), covers the south-eastern periphery of the capital city and has ten (10) areas. Half of these areas (5 out of 10) are located on the outskirts of the capital city on the main roads to Sikasso, in the south and to Ségou in the East part of the country.

Thus, the availability of space and the rapid growth of the city of Bamako are putting pressure on the rate of land occupation or even land grapping. Whether for housing, land development or exploitation, land management experiences a multitude of actors whose roles remain, uncontrolled, neglected or even illegal.

Through a qualitative approach, individual interviews have been carried out with municipality workers in commune VI Town Hall, particularly the Mayor in charge of the land issues, the municipal officer responsible for issuing the municipal documents on the land tenure, a Geometer-Expert in Land planning. Also, the traditional authorities in charge of land management according to customary Land Code have been interviewed. Their perceptions as well as their daily experience in municipal peri-urban land management have been analyzed.

The results show a “hybridization” of actors and their roles in the daily management of municipal peri-urban land in commune VI of Bamako district. Some land disputes arise from the establishment of municipal administrative acts of the commune VI. Customary Land Code and the modern Land Code trespass, making the management of Sub-urban land a source of instability or even urban insecurity resulting in, sometimes, intimidation between victims and executioners at various institutional levels.

Drissa  Tangara  is doctoral  student in Sociology  of  Education,  IPU/  ISFRA  and Point  Sud, Bamako, Mali;  Lamine Doumbia is Postdoc Fellow at DHIP-CREPOS Dakar and the University of Bayreuth.


08 Thompson Kwarkye: Between Tradition and Modernity, Traditional Structures in Decentralization in Ghana

There have been growing concerns over the concentration of power at the national level and the top-down approach to governance in many countries. Pressure on the domestic front from policy analyst, politicians, civil society organizations and other local actors sought to capture power from the centralized government in the form of decentralization. Demand for decentralization grew stronger and stronger and became the foundation for most local governance in many democracies. Decentralization seeks to provide the enabling environment that allows individuals at the local levels or the lowest divisional structure to actively participate in decision making while making local leaders accountable and responsible to the decisions that affect the lives of citizens.

In Ghana, decentralization has been broadly defined to include local governments acting on delegated powers in the form of devolution, deconcentration or fiscal decentralization. It has been promoted as part of the neoliberal agenda to enhance efficiency, responsiveness, accountability of service and bring decision-making closer to the people. Occurring at micro-level, decentralization includes the exercise of power among state institutions, power mediation, accountability and responsibility at the lowest tier of administration occurring not in a vacuum but in a systematized structure where many actors play significant roles. Thus, the most interesting developments of decentralization in Ghana have not only been the expansion of people’s participation, accountability of state institutions and bringing government closer to the people but also an expansion of decentralization to include non-states actors in decision making processes at the local levels. Gomes (2006) referred to these actors as ‘stakeholders’ and are very active and significant agents to which decentralization is organized.

With ethnographic evidence from Kpandai District in Northern Ghana, this paper explores traditional structures as not only cultural and religious leaders with authority embedded in tradition and precedents but also as major stakeholders in decentralization and local governance in Ghana. The paper traces the history behind traditional structures in local governance before colonial rule and argue that these historical antecedents have cemented their significance as agents in decentralization in Ghana’s local governance. Their contributions toward human security, poverty reduction and community development with history at the background have made them active agents in decentralization. More so, the paper discusses the manoeuvrability, adaptability, elasticity and innovative strategies of these structures that have sealed their roles as a strong pivot of decentralization is organized.

This paper also defines the kind of relationship that exist between traditional structures and the formal government structure and further argues that traditional structures remain one of the most accessible channels to people in this district in holding leaders accountable and responsible, bringing government closer to the people and getting access to basic services aimed at improving their lives. They remain the key to sustainable and inclusive development that is embedded in power, authority and security. I conclude this paper by arguing that traditional structures are relevant in improving the wellbeing of people, curtailing inequality and enhancing responsive relations between the citizenry and government institutions in decentralization.

 Thompson Kwarkye is doctoral student in Ethnology at Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main Germany.

June 9 @ 10:30
10:30 — 14:00 (3h 30')

Zoom Room 2

Lamine Doumbia, Matthew Sabbi

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