5.1 Introduction It is generally recognized that the process of building a capable state requires the participation of all the vital forces of a nation. A capable state is one that has all the attributes of a modern, strong, responsible and responsive state, a state capable of effectively discharging its duties of delivering security, peace, prosperity and other pubic goods to its people. Although the state has traditionally been considered as the focal point of this process, other sectors, including non-state ones, have an important role to play, and the importance of this role has grown significantly over the past couple of decades as the limitations of the post-colonial state in providing for the needs of its people have been made all too clear.1 It is thus important to identify these other actors and recognise those areas wherein they can contribute, and have indeed contributed, to the process, as well as to appreciate better their nature, their mode of intervention, the constraints hampering their action as well as to explore ways in which their participation can be rendered more fruitful and less problematic. But before we delve into the subject of non-state actors and their role in the creation of the capable state in Africa, it would be useful to look into just what the capable state is and means, and what it has meant for the African continent since the advent of independence half a century ago. 5.2 Definitional Issues 5.2.1 Overview The capable state may be defined as one that effectively fulfils its obligations to its constituents by providing and safeguarding a range of goods, both tangible and intangible,2 that assure its people of a secure public space wherein they can live and love, produce and reproduce, and pursue the enjoyment of the fruits of their labour and love. Such a state will have attributes such as territorial integrity, public order and safety under the rule of law; ample political space for individual and group self-realisation; and socio-economic justice and equity that minimise conflict and foster intra-national peace and harmony. It is the absence of these attributes within states that creates what have come to be known as “failed”, “failing” or “dysfunctional” states, whose common denominator are varying degrees of precariousness. In these terms, the African state that came into being upon decolonisation had its work cut out. From centuries of successive forms of extreme exploitation, oppression and brutalisation, African nations found themselves confronted with the daunting task of, on the one hand, putting in place governance systems that would ensure the survival of the nation-state that was essentially an artificial creation of the colonial regime, cobbled up from a multitude of disparate and often mutually hostile ethnic entities and, on the other, assure a minimum of livelihood for the people by delivering education, health and other social services, securing good prices for agricultural produce, providing jobs through mining and
Mabogunje, A.L. Institutional Radicalisation, the state and the development process in Africa. Development Policy Centre, Ibadan, Nigeria, 2000. 2 Anyang’ Nyong’o, Governance, Poverty and Sustainable Development in Africa, in The Quest for Equity in Access to Health and Development, Tropical Institute of Community Health and Development in Kenya.
industrialisation, and generally taking care of the nation, including providing welfare for those who could not fend for themselves. Herculean as these tasks were the first crop of African leaders assumed them with gusto. In fact it was the leaders who enthusiastically promoted these expectations, either because they needed seductive promises to make their peoples rally to the anti-colonial banner, or because they genuinely believed that once the colonialists were out of the way all was possible. Mkandawire3 sheds a harsh light on this “central...