Current thinking on good governance misconceived - academic
March 10, 2009
State failure may be even more serious than first imagined, and reversing decay more difficult, argues Patrick Chabal in a new paper. Below a certain threshold of efficiency, the state ceases to function except in the interests of client individuals or groups. The dominance of the informal over the formal administration rapidly destroys the bureaucracy, according to Chabal, professor of Lusophone African Studies at King’s College, London.
He writes that the existence of informal or "traditional" factors should be acknowledged. Rather than Western donors and institutions seeking to replicate Western accountability and transparency, he argues that: "What should happen is the reverse. African politicians should be asked to explain how the realities of representation, legitimacy, accountability and responsibility in their own countries can be reshaped to serve a more vigorous developmental agenda... Politicians must be asked to show how they intend to be accountable in the informal sector".
African governments should devise their own blueprints and "devise – and publicise – the ways in which their commitment to accountability can, very concretely, contribute to the improvements of the lives of the population."