Local Assemblies and Local Democracy in sub-Saharan Africa
This chapter is about local assemblies and local democracies. Its main objective is to plug the scanty attention given to comparative local democracy in much of the discourses on Africa’s democratic renewal. The need for articulating this issue stems from the fact that despite the significant role they play in effective governance and economic development in many regions, local governments have not been major players in African governance or development before the second democratic upsurge in the continent. Africa’s local governments for instance are the weakest among the world’s regions judged by personnel size or expenditure profile.1 The rationale for stronger local governments is premised on the following considerations. First, there is the argument that democracy cannot be consolidated at the central level if it is not devolved to the locality. Second, some contend that the revitalization of local government is critical because local democracies serve as the training ground for recruiting national level democratic leaders and for citizenship training in democratic practices and norms. Within this view, some analysts point out that many of the huge economic mistakes made in Africa’s development governance up to the late 1980s are attributable to excessive centralization of power. 2 Countries as disparate as Ethiopia, Uganda, Mali, Rwanda, and Republic of South Africa, to mention a few, are turning away from centralized approaches to decentralized ones.
KeywordsLocal Government Local Assembly Local Council Council Member City Manager
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