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Domesticating the Leviathan: Constitutionalism and Federalism in Africa

Domesticating the Leviathan: Constitutionalism and Federalism in Africa NICO STEYTLER I. INTRODUCTION The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 had a profound impact on African countries and their form of government. Autocratic rulers, propped up by the Cold War superpowers, lost their utility for their erstwhile sponsors and a vocal citizenry sought new ways of ordering their countries. The object was to domesticate the Leviathan ­ the all-dominant executive, be it one-party states, presidents-for-life, military or autocratic rule, kleptocrats or petty tyrants in many African countries. The centralisation of the African state did not, as promised, lead to development, but to its opposite ­ conflict and skewed underdevelopment.1 Perhaps the most dramatic event in this wave of constitution-making occurred on 1 February 1990, when South Africa's autocratic white minority government, responding directly to the fall of the Berlin Wall, announced the end of apartheid and initiated a process of peace-making that eventually led to a negotiated democratic constitutional order. This order had two main strands: the one entailed a liberal democracy of limited government and a system of checks and balances controlling power at the centre, while the other dispersed power in a limited manner vertically between the centre and sub-national governments. In other http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png African Journal of International and Comparative Law Edinburgh University Press

Domesticating the Leviathan: Constitutionalism and Federalism in Africa

Domesticating the Leviathan: Constitutionalism and Federalism in Africa


NICO STEYTLER I. INTRODUCTION The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 had a profound impact on African countries and their form of government. Autocratic rulers, propped up by the Cold War superpowers, lost their utility for their erstwhile sponsors and a vocal citizenry sought new ways of ordering their countries. The object was to domesticate the Leviathan ­ the all-dominant executive, be it one-party states, presidents-for-life, military or autocratic rule, kleptocrats or petty tyrants in many African countries. The centralisation of the African state did not, as promised, lead to development, but to its opposite ­ conflict and skewed underdevelopment.1 Perhaps the most dramatic event in this wave of constitution-making occurred on 1 February 1990, when South Africa's autocratic white minority government, responding directly to the fall of the Berlin Wall, announced the end of apartheid and initiated a process of peace-making that eventually led to a negotiated democratic constitutional order. This order had two main strands: the one entailed a liberal democracy of limited government and a system of checks and balances controlling power at the centre, while the other dispersed power in a limited manner vertically between the centre and sub-national governments. In other subSahara African countries the process was very similar. Many liberal democratic constitutions were adopted which sought to place sovereignty in the hands of the people through regular elections and the protection of human rights. Central power was dispersed horizontally through the separation of powers and in nine countries Professor of Law and South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government, Law and Policy, Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. I would like to express my appreciation to Jan Erk and Derek Powell for their instructive comments. This work is based upon research supported...
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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© Edinburgh University Press 2016
Subject
Articles; African Studies
ISSN
0954-8890
eISSN
1755-1609
DOI
10.3366/ajicl.2016.0153
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

NICO STEYTLER I. INTRODUCTION The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 had a profound impact on African countries and their form of government. Autocratic rulers, propped up by the Cold War superpowers, lost their utility for their erstwhile sponsors and a vocal citizenry sought new ways of ordering their countries. The object was to domesticate the Leviathan ­ the all-dominant executive, be it one-party states, presidents-for-life, military or autocratic rule, kleptocrats or petty tyrants in many African countries. The centralisation of the African state did not, as promised, lead to development, but to its opposite ­ conflict and skewed underdevelopment.1 Perhaps the most dramatic event in this wave of constitution-making occurred on 1 February 1990, when South Africa's autocratic white minority government, responding directly to the fall of the Berlin Wall, announced the end of apartheid and initiated a process of peace-making that eventually led to a negotiated democratic constitutional order. This order had two main strands: the one entailed a liberal democracy of limited government and a system of checks and balances controlling power at the centre, while the other dispersed power in a limited manner vertically between the centre and sub-national governments. In other

Journal

African Journal of International and Comparative LawEdinburgh University Press

Published: May 1, 2016

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