Faleceu hoje o grande escritor nigeriano Chinua Achebe. O seu livro de ficção ‘quando tudo se desmorona/things fall apart’, publicado pela primeira vez em 1958, retrata com coragem a vida política Nigeriana.
Ao longo da sua vida, a sua escrita demonstrou sempre a sua recusa em resignar-se com corrupção ou com despotismo. Costumo dizer aos meus alunos que para se estudar ciência política tem que se ler romances, estórias de vida… E para quem quer estudar África, ler Achebe não é aconselhável, é obrigatório.
A sua morte não é uma perda para África, é uma perda para o mundo. Nunca o conheci, só conheci as suas palavras, mas ao ler a notícia da sua morte fiquei triste como se tivesse perdido alguém meu conhecido e amigo…
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In Sub-Saharan Africa, elected multiparty assemblies have existed on average for no more than two decades. The following analysis seeks to comprehend and evaluate the links between citizens and their elected parliaments in 18 African countries with a particular focus on Mozambique and South Africa. It aims to address some of the scepticism, both within and outside these institutions and countries, surrounding the relationship between parliaments and citizens under these socioeconomic contexts. It does so by explaining the overall political and socioeconomic context of African multiparty parliaments and their citizens followed by a discussion of citizens’ access to parliaments and, lastly, of citizens’ perceptions of parliaments using a combination of descriptive, comparative and analytic techniques.
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Tiros e confusão em algumas ruas de Bissau. Eu estava dentro do carro na Avenida dos Combatentes vinda da Universidade Colinas de boé. Era cerca de 20h30 aqui em Bissau já noite escura. De onde estava não ouvi os tiros mas começávamos a ver centenas de pessoas a correr desnorteadas a fugir da cidade. De repente sem espaço os carros, os táxis, os toca toca começaram a fazer a inversão de marcha. As pessoas passavam entre os carros e gritavam em Kriol os militares estão na casa do cadogo. O motorista manteve a calma. Gritava de carro para carro para saber o que se passava. As rádios nacionais deixaram de emitir.
This paper analyses the perceptions among survey participants, of African parliaments and presidents and examines their citizens’ attitudes towards the coexistence of these two institutions. It aims to determine the way citizens rate their parliaments compared with their presidents. It further seeks to answer the question of whether Africa remains the continent of the ‘big man’, where absolute power lies with an individual, feeding clientelistic relationships. In the decades following the transitions to independence, most of the continent was marked by a proliferation of monoparty regimes; in many cases, these were almost one-man regimes. A majority of the leaders symbolised, at an early stage of independence, the birth of the nation itself. Many times these presidents have sought to extend their incumbency perpetually. However, over the last two decades this scenario has changed considerably. Monoparty parliaments have been replaced by multiparty parliaments and executives, and presidents have found themselves needing to share their leadership of the nation with parliamentarians. Not much is known about how these emerging parliaments have been operating, but the little that is known tells us that they have faced a lack of institutionalisation and still struggle to assert their independence from strong executives. It is therefore reasonable to expect that parliaments will be perceived as dormant institutions in the public eye.
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While modern parliaments in Africa receive little attention in the scholarly literature, they are drawing considerable attention from the international donor community. Since the early 1990s, when many African countries resumed multi-party elections and democratic practices, legislative strengthening programmes have become an important part of international democracy assistance. Despite these programmes, our knowledge about Africa’s current parliaments remains limited. They seem to be widely regarded as potential agents for democratic change but whether national legislatures are in fact enhancing the quality of democracy on the African continent is far from clear. This study discusses two important issues that lie at the heart of the democracy-enhancing potential of Africa’s current parliaments: their institutional capacity and the way they are perceived by the citizens they represent. After a brief review of the existing literature on legislatures in Africa, the essay first considers whether they have the institutional capacity to fulfil a meaningful role and provides a detailed description of the autonomy of parliaments in 16 selected countries. It then turns to the way Africans perceive and evaluate their parliaments. Do citizens see their legislatures as valuable institutions? Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings for the prospects of African parliaments becoming agents of democratic change.
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