One-year Political Science MA programme in Global Politics and Societal Change Dept. of Global Political Studies
Course: Political Science Thesis ST632L (15 credits) VT/2021 – Date of submission: 19th May 2021 Supervisor: John H. S. Åberg
US Model of Democratic Governance
and China’s Model of Authoritarian
Capitalism: Africans’ Perception of these
Transnational Political Processes of
As the debate on greater socio-economic rights promulgated by China’s model of authoritarian capitalism or greater human rights and freedom championed by the US model of democratic governance continues to spread across developing countries, this thesis investigates how Africans perceive these two transnational political processes. This is an exploratory sequential mixed method research with data collected through an expert interview of 10 participants from 7 African countries and the quantitative data gotten from Afrobarometer Round 8 survey. This study permitted us to establish that the perception of Africans of these models of governance are shaped by the indicators of human rights and freedom and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). The results of the study suggest that Africans perceive positively the US model of democratic governance on the promotion of human rights and Africans also perceive positively the impact of Western democratic countries’ FDI on the non-elite actors in Africa because of their level of transparency and accountability. On the other hand, the study suggests that Africans view negatively China’s model on both human rights as well as FDI. This is because of China’s disregard for human rights and principles of good governance in her interaction with African countries. Chinese FDI turn to profit the political elite class the more because of their lack of transparency and accountability. China’s model helps to perpetuate human rights violation and authoritarianism in Africa.
Key words: democratic governance, authoritarian capitalism, human rights and freedom, Africa,
Table of Contents
1. Introduction ... 2
1.1 Background of the Study ... 2
1.2 Problem Statement ... 4
1.3 Research Aim and Research Question ... 5
1.3.1 Research Aim ... 5
1.3.2 Research Question ... 5
1.4 Organization of the Study ... 5
2. Literature Review ... 5
2.1 Africans’ Perceptions of Authoritarian Capitalism ... 5
2.2 Africans’ Perceptions of Democratic Governance ... 7
3. Theoretical Framework ... 9
3.1 The Concept of Democratic Governance ... 9
3.1.1 Principles of Democratic Governance ... 10
3.2 The Concept of Authoritarian Capitalism ... 12
3.3 The Theory of Constructivism ... 14
4. Research Methodology ...15
4.1 Research Design ... 15
4.2 Population of the Study ... 16
4.2.1 Sample Size of the Study ... 16
4.2.2 Sampling Technique ... 17
4.3 Methods of Data Collection ... 17
4.3.1 Primary Data Collection ... 18
4.3.2 Secondary Data Collection ... 18
4.4 Methods of Data Analysis ... 19
4.5 Validity and Reliability of the Research Instrument ... 19
4.6 Ethical Considerations... 20
5. Data Presentation and Analysis ...20
5.1.1 Africans’ Perception of US Model of Democratic Governance (Western Democracy)
and China’s Model of Authoritarian Capitalism ... 22
5.1.2 Africans’ Perception of Rising Human Rights Violation and Authoritarianism due to Interaction with China ... 24
5.1.3 Africans’ Perception of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa by Western Countries and China ... 27
5.2 Presentation and Analysis of Quantitative Data ... 30
6. Conclusion ...33
This publication has been produced during my scholarship period at Malmö
University, which is funded by the Swedish Institute.
I will first start by thanking the Almighty God for bringing me this far in academics.
Furthermore, I thank immensely the Swedish Institute for granting me the SI Scholarship for Global Professionals to enable me study this Programme at Malmö University. This academic experience is indeed one of the most significant in my career.
I would like to express my gratitude to my supervisor Dr. John H. S. Åberg for his guidance. His
advices contributed to the quality of this study.
To Ms. Tchouandem Nzali Coretta, Ms. Mbale Fidele and Mr. Yusuf Madi for their incessant support, love and kind friendship manifested towards my humble person. Their friendship has always been a source of great encouragement for me.
My sincere gratitude also goes to the people who, despite their very busy schedules, accepted to be interviewed. This work could not be done without their valuable input.
Finally, I wish to thank all the lecturers, administrators and students of the Master Programme in Political Science: Global Politics and Societal Change at Malmö University for the guidance and support throughout the Programme.
1.1 Background of the Study
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in 2000 in Beijing marked a turning point to the Sino-African relations as it led to the intensification of China’s investment within the African continent (Hanusch, 2012; Nnajiofor, 2019). However, this growing interest of China over the last two decades towards the African continent has attracted a lot of praises as well as criticism (Taylor, 2008; Nnajiofor, 2019; Tawiah et al, 2020). This criticism toward Beijing has been mainly based on China’s disregard towards issues of good governance and human rights across the African continent. According to Tull (2006), China’s increasing interest on the African continent is part of an active international strategy which is based on the principle of multipolarity and non-intervention. In this regard, China has frequently cancelled the debts of African countries, increased their aid offers without precondition to African countries. Sino-African trade links have also been improved and this has enabled China to gain valuable diplomatic support from African countries in order to advance its international interest (Tull, 2006).
China is therefore presenting to Africans an alternative to the Western model of democratic governance based on the strict respect of the universal values of human rights and freedom. Many pundits are of the opinion that this new pattern presented by China seems to be attractive to some political elites in Africa. They take advantage of China’s support and disregard for good governance and human rights in order to promote their private interest and maintaining themselves at the helm of the States while at the same time violating the rights of citizens (Tull, 2006; Hodzi, 2020) They orientate the political discourse in their individual countries about China’s model and this turns to impact the manner in which citizens in these countries perceive China’s model of authoritarian capitalism (Sautman and Hairong, 2009).
The post electoral events that happened in the USA where former President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede defeat during 2020 US Presidential election which was then followed by a riot in the Capitol Building, was an embarrassment to democratic governance (Fedor, 2020) and this further gave authoritarian regimes in Africa and across the world an opportunity to reinforce their propaganda against democratic governance. Again, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, human rights violations intensified in many parts of the world.
In Africa, authoritarian regimes like Cameroon and Uganda used the pretext of COVID-19 pandemic to crack down on opposition leaders and their supporters. In Cameroon, security forces were using the pretext of COVID-19 pandemic to crack down opposition party members and their supporters (HRW, 2020). Meanwhile in Uganda, President Museveni used the same COVID-19 as a pretext to arrest and crackdown supporters of the main opposition leader Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine (HRW, 2020). The human rights and freedom of the non-elite actors in authoritarian regimes in Africa are increasingly being violated with impunity.
Olewe (2019) opines that democracy in Africa is on a decline and even though more and more elections are being held within the African continent, these elections are simply ‘lawful but illegitimate.’ Olewe (2019) adds that in spite of the fact that majority of Africans still want to live under systems that promote democratic governance, there is a good number of Africans who are looking toward alternative forms of governance like the autocratic models of governance. According to Temin and Linzer (2020), West Africa which used to be the driver of democracy in Africa, has recently witnessed a drastic decline as individual rights and freedom are increasingly being curtailed as a result of rising authoritarianism.
Speaking via video link on Friday April 23, 2021 to the US Council on Foreign Relations, China’s foreign Minister Wang Yi declared that ‘democracy was not like coca-coca, which with a syrup produced by the USA, will have the same taste across the world’ (RT News, 2021). The Chinese diplomat further added that the world will be lifeless and dormant if there is only one single civilization as well as model of governance (RT News, 2021). With this statement, China is directly demonstrating its willingness to showcase the beauty of its model of governance and civilization across the world as an alternative model to Western democracy championed by the USA.
According to Diamond (2021), US President Joe Biden is deeply concerned about the rise of autocratic regimes across the world and these days he pays particular attention to China. President Joe Biden ironized on the fact that ‘President Xi Jinping and other autocratic leaders across the world think that democratic governance cannot compete with authoritarianism in the 21st century’
(Diamond, 2021). The war in the spread of these two governance ideologies has therefore been intensified and Africa is not left out because these superpowers constitute major partners to
Africa’s development, thus exposing Africa to these two transnational political processes of governance.
1.2 Problem Statement
Presently, the capacity of China in shaping the global political norms can no longer be over emphasized. This is because both history and theory suggest that rising power like it is with the
case of China today can sometimes profoundly and violently influence international politics (Barma et al, 2009). According to Naím (2007), China’s international drive to do good around the world is motivated by its desire to secure access to raw materials and international alliance that will enable her to increase her global influence. Naím (2007) believes the goal of China is not to help develop a country but rather to advance her ideological agenda and push forward her own interest.
Globalization has led to the emergence of new societal actors which are important for the normal functioning of modern States. According to Kooiman (2003), modern governance is no longer just the concern of the public or the private but it shares concern from all societal actors and from all the levels of the society, from the local to the supra-national. However, China’s interactions with African nations have remained focused on the African political elite while non-elite actors have remained inconsequential (Hodzi, 2017). This policy is not intended to develop these nations but rather lead to a world with a more chaotic, corrupt and authoritarian system (Naím, 2007).
Beijing’s dealing with African countries with a complete disregard to the principles of human rights and freedom, principles which are sacrosanct for Western norms of democratic governance. Taylor (2008) put forward that China’s argument that socio-economic rights are more important for the poor than civil and political rights, is actually problematic as it is leading to an increasing violation of human rights by repressive leaders across the continent and at the same time, it is weakening the leverage by the Western democracy and institutions trying to uphold greater respect for human rights and freedom.
As these two transnational political processes of governance (democratic governance and authoritarian capitalism) spread across the world, the debate for greater human rights and freedom which are the guiding principles of democratic governance or greater socio-economic rights
promulgated by China is intensifying mostly across developing countries, particularly in the African continent. This is because Africans look up to the world for inspiration, for guidance and for partnership.
1.3 Research Aim and Research Question
1.3.1 Research Aim
The aim of the study is to understand Africans’ perception of the US model of democratic governance and China’s model of authoritarian capitalism.
1.3.2 Research Question
How do Africans perceive the US model of democratic governance and China’s model of authoritarian capitalism?
1.4 Organization of the Study
In other to answer the above research question, this study will consist of six sections. Section one will be based on the background of the study, the statement of the problem, the research aim and research question. Section two will discuss the literature of existing research within the field (literature review) and section three will be based on the theoretical framework of the study. In section four, we shall discuss the research methodology while section five will focus on the presentation and analysis of the data. We shall conclude in Section six.
2. Literature Review
In this section, we shall explore the existing literature linked to this study. This existing literature will cover literature review of Africans’ perception of authoritarian capitalism and Africans’ perception of democratic governance.
2.1 Africans’ Perceptions of Authoritarian Capitalism
Davidsson (2020) investigated the opinion made by many scholars that China’s growing influence in Africa as a result of its economic prioress could serve as a threat to the democratization process in Africa as well as an exporter of authoritarianism within the continent of Africa. Davidsson
(2020) employed time series, cross-sectional analysis of the economic and political data in order to investigate the relationship between China’s economic interaction with African States and democracy within these States. The findings show that there exists no relationship between China’s economic interaction with African States and the level of democracy within these States. The findings did not also reveal any link between China’s economic interaction with a particular African State and political change within this State.
By exploring the how African States strategically shape the norms of development by promoting the foreign powers and influencing external actors in order to legitimize their preferential norms, Hodzi (2020) examines China’s development model in Africa and how the norms related to this China’s model are being shaped and how they diffuse across the continent. The article investigates just how African political elites are shaping China’s political model to grow for their personal benefit and at the detriment of the entire country. The main argument of the study is how Africans political elites are strategically creating their own version of the China’s model in order to balance their domestic interest and their bilateral relations with China. The study presents a rather realistic perspective of China’s presence in Africa, a presence that turns to downplay the role of non-elite actors by giving the political elites the right to reshape China’s model depending on their domestic and international interest.
While trying to understand the perceptions of Africans as regards the growing China-African relations and the determinants behind these perceptions, Hanusch (2012) used multi-level analysis modeling technique with data from Afrobarometer Round 4 in order to examine the attitudes of Africans towards China’s presence in the African continent and what could be the motivating factor behind such attitude. The results of the findings suggest that the perception of Africans towards China is motivated by some key factors like the effect of Chinese foreign investment in Africa which Africans view very positively because of its positive impact on poverty alleviation in Africa, and Africans view in a negative direction China’s trade and China’s records of human rights and freedom in Africa. The reason for this negative perception is because China is often accused of sending products of low quality to the African market and these products destroy the African market through dumping and for the human rights records, advocates of democratic governance view this as negative because China’s model is known for its focus on economy while downplaying human rights and freedom.
By making use of random sampling from university-based surveys Sautman and Hairong (2009), elaborated on the view of Africans to the Sino-African relations and this enabled them to conclude firstly that Africans’ view towards Sino-African relations is not so negative as those put out by Western media but rather complex. Secondly, they are inconsistent with dominant Western media representation that the Sino-African relations are much more positively accepted by the elite class and lastly, Africans’ perceptions towards the Sino-African relations vary more by country instead of variation of education, gender and age. According to Sautman and Hairong (2009), the variation in perceptions among countries towards the Sino-African relations, are basically a function of the extent to which Western media influence those African States and the national political discourse on the Sino-African relations.
2.2 Africans’ Perceptions of Democratic Governance
Given the importance of local governance as an important aspect of democratic governance in Africa and because of the important role it plays for the well-being of the citizens at local level while at the same time shaping the national political institutions, Kuenzi and Lambright (2018) by using the data of a survey conducted by Afrobarometer Round 6 from twenty-six countries in sub-Saharan Africa investigated what determines citizens’ perceptions of the quality of local governance. Their aim was to find out if institutions influence the quality of local governance in Africa. The results of the study showed that the manner in which the Chief Executives were selected was a significant factor in the manner in which citizens evaluated the local governance. For instance, the citizens perceived the local government to be less responsive when the Chief Executive was directly elected and even more negative in performance and probity when the Chief Executive is directly appointed by the national government. On the other hand, citizens in areas with a greater level of local control over public expenditures view their local officials to be more effective but at the same time very corrupt. Citizens in areas where administrative decentralization is greater, perceive corruption to be less widespread. The research concludes that direct elections of local officers is not a panacea and thus before deepening decentralization, the capacity of the local government officers ought to be taken into consideration.
Making use of cross-national survey data, in order to provide insights into performance, Bratton (2011) examines the political relationship between the citizens and local government authorities
in sub-Saharan African countries and the focus of the research was on leadership responsiveness. The results show that citizens perceive local councils as weak institutions with very limited functions and rarely perform well. According to the study, the elected councilors are largely unresponsive. The results of the study also showed that citizens mostly use civic activism as a corrective measure and have not yet been capable of making use of the tax payer device as a strategy to hold the local administrator accountable for their actions. The study concludes by calling on policy actors to put in place strategies that can make local government officials to be more effective in the provision of services to the local populations.
With the use of data from a cross-national survey conducted by Afrobarometer in twelve African countries between 1999 and 2001, Bratton et al. (2005) examined the opinions of Africans toward democracy and the market. The study revealed that ordinary Africans are not well knowledgeable about issues of democratic governance and the system of market reform. The results of the research also revealed that beyond multiple elections, all the ordinary African person just want to have a clean and accountable government structure. For this ordinary Africans, economic structural adjustments can only be accepted if it creates opportunities for effective job creation and promote the ideas of an egalitarian society. Bratton et al. (2005) put forward that, the reason for this attitude is not only based on social structure and cultural values but on the fact that Africans have learned about reforms on the basis of reasoning, experience and knowledge. They therefore conclude that African countries have varying degree of attaining full democracy as well as the market.
As seen above a good number of studies have examined Africans’ perception of the US model of democratic governance and China’s model of authoritarian capitalism. However, though I may somehow agree with some of the methods employed in carrying out the research like the multi-level analysis modeling technique employed by Hanusch (2012), it is my conviction that most methods employed to carry out such a study are not very sufficient in order to permit a better understanding of how Africans perceive these two transnational governance models. It is my belief that a form of expert study must be carried out in order to fully understand Africa’s perception of these two transnational political processes of governance.
3. Theoretical Framework
This section convers all the concepts related to the US model of democratic governance and China’s model of authoritarian capitalism as well as the theory.
3.1 The Concept of Democratic Governance
The concept of democratic governance has attracted much attention from scholars as well as policy practitioners in the 21st century. The tasks of the State is increasingly becoming more complex
leading to an enlargement in the size of the political activities of the State (Fung and Wright, 2003). This increase in the complexity of the State activities makes it difficult for the State to provide solutions to the problems facing this complex society alone and this therefore creates a new pattern of interaction between the government and society by way of shifting the balance between the government and the society (Kooiman, 2003). This is done by moving away from the public sector to a more private sector (Kooiman, 1993). This sharing of power is in the direction of a collaborative relationship; working together instead of working alone. In order to have a new pattern aimed at discovering new ways of coping with problems or creating new opportunities for effective governance, modern States are now more willing to share responsibilities with other actors of the society.
In order to facilitate the understanding of democratic governance, it is important to first discuss the meaning of governance. Bevir (2007) distinguishes governance from government as a term that seems to be less orientated towards the State than it is the case with the government and at the same time, evokes the conduct of governing in the same manner as does the institutions of the government. Kooiman (2003) thus views “governance as a societal quality consisting of both the public as well as the private. It is therefore a mix of all kinds of governing efforts by all the social and political actors of the society, the public as well as the private and this occurs at different levels and in different modes and orders (Kooiman, 2003).This shows an increased involvement of non-state actors in the policymaking process as well as in the delivery of public services in the modern States. This situation has therefore prompted the modern State to change its traditional role in order to improve its ability to oversee the non-state actors. The State does this by creating a form of partnership through auditing and the regulation of organizations (Bevir, 2010). The State also puts
in place democratically accountable mechanisms in order to coordinate the activities of all the actors involved in the life of the Nation.
In democratic governance, the citizens are generally put at the center of decision-making. Democracy means ‘rule by the people’ (Klein et al, 2011). This means the poor and the disadvantaged group (the non-elite actors) are given the opportunity for their voices to be heard. According to Bevir (2006), organizations like the World Bank view good governance primarily as the practices, standards and norms of liberal democracy. Dryzek (2000) defines liberal democracy as the belief in the popular control of power and the strict respect for human rights and freedom. Meanwhile, Mukandala (2001) accept the existence of a consensus on the characteristics of liberal democracy and these include the existence of a constitutional order and a political practice that give room for participation, representation and accountability in governance through regular and competitive elections which are regularly held under conditions of civil and political liberties which are generally guaranteed by the rule of law.
In line with this, Shylendra and Bhirdikar (2005) opine that governance is regarded as good governance when it takes into account all the universally accepted features like the exercise of legitimate political power, the formulation and the implementation of policies and programmes that are equitable for the society; these policies should be non-discriminatory, they should be transparent, participatory as well as socially sensitive and above all, it should be accountable to the people. Crick (2002) therefore defines democratic governance as an amalgamation of good governance as representative government, equality, human rights and political justice.
3.1.1 Principles of Democratic Governance
For a system of governance to be considered as democratic in nature, the following conditions must be made:
• Participatory governance: In democratic system of governance, the political elite must ensure the full participation of all the actors in the process of decision-making. All the citizens (both male and female) must take part in matters that affect their daily life and the life of the nation. According to Grote and Gbikpi (2002), a participatory governance system must ensure the putting in place of an effective system that guarantees citizens’
participation and this is done by way of ensuring a wide variety range of systems of bargaining for citizens both at the international and the nation level. There must be a system of bottom-up approach of governance where communication is placed at the center in order to understand the plight of the citizens and thus provide adequate solutions.
• Political Tolerance: this implies the ruling class must be mindful and respectful of the interest of the minority class (Klein et al, 2011). Citizens must be aware of the pluralistic nature of the society. This pluralism may be in terms of religion, race, culture etc. Individuals within the society must therefore be ready to debate and accommodate the individuals’ viewpoints. This is the respect for diversity.
• Accountability: the elected officials must be accountable to the citizens for their decisions and actions during their time of office or service to the nation (Morlino, 2004). In this regard, the citizens might always put more trust and confidence on those found to serve the nation with integrity and probity whereas those found with low level of probity may even face justice for their actions.
• Transparency: transparency in this regard implies the leaders will be able to allow public
scrutiny (Klein et al, 2011). The citizens may therefore be allowed to have information on certain issues that affect the life of the nation. There should be transparency in whatever decision is being made and the reason for that decision. Transparency is also closely related to accountability.
• Equality: equality here implies all the individuals will be equal before the law, be given equal opportunity in the realization of their individual capacities without any regards to ethnicity, race, gender and even religious background (Klein et al, 2011).
• Rule of law: the implication of this is that, no one should be above the law and all citizens
must respect the law and are held accountable to the law if they break the law. There should also be a due process of law. This implies all the law should be applied with fairness, equality and it should be consistently enforced. If the rule of law is ineffective, equality, freedom and accountable governance will not be attainable (Morlino, 2004).
• Human Rights: one of the key virtues of democratic governance is the protection of rights and freedom of the citizens from any form of abuse. These rights of citizens may include:
the right to life and to own property, freedom of expression and freedom related to assembly and associations etc. (Klein et al, 2011).
• Separation of powers: in democratic governance, there should be separation of power
between the three arms of government - the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary and each of these organs must be independent (Klein et al, 2011).
• Regular, free and fair elections: it is important to ensure that citizens are not stuck with a
bad leadership and everyone who is willing to participate in the running of political affairs of the nation must be allowed to do so (Klein et al, 2011). This can only be done through a system of regular free and fair elections which is one of those important principles in democratic governance (Olawole et al, 2013) that ensure that people at the bottom of the society could rise one day to become prominent leaders within the society. This is may be difficult in an authoritarian system. Free and fair elections will enable the citizens to bring their competent leaders who will work in transparency and with the interest of the citizens at heart and thus ensuring accountable governance.
3.2 The Concept of Authoritarian Capitalism
This model of governance has been of great success to China by uplifting millions of its citizens out of poverty and making China to move from a low income status to a middle income status over a period of four decades (Babones, 2020). This China’s economic miracle has made many countries in Africa and across the world to be filled with admiration for this model. There is an increasingly growing public opinion that is predicting China to become the leading world economy in the future. According to Zhao (2017), this model is essentially based on a hyper-charged economic growth which is led by an authoritarian State. China’s economic prioress has received the respect and admiration of many individuals across the world.
China’s model is centered around State-led development (Babones, 2020) and according to Zhao (2017), if the Chinese government is in a tradeoff position between the people’s consent to rule and economic growth, the Chinese State will always put economic growth as the first option. The China’s model is built upon a strong bureaucratic state capacity (Babones, 2020).
Zhao (2010) puts forward that the Chinese model is principally based on two components: firstly, copying the successful elements of liberal economic policy and this can be done by opening up much of the economy to the foreign and domestic investment, keeping the tax and regulatory burden very low, allowing for labor flexibility, and creating a first-class infrastructure via a combination of private sector as well as government spending and secondly, permitting the ruling party to maintain a firm grip over the government, the courts, the army, the internal security apparatus and the free flow of information.
China’s model is also a model built on the theory of New Structural Economics (NSE) put forward by Justin Lin- Former Chief Economist at the World Bank (Åberg and Becker, 2020). According to Lin (2011), economic development is a dynamic process which requires a constant upgrading of industries and this is accompanied by a corresponding improvement in ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ infrastructure at each level of the economy. This process will bring about an effective market mechanism and the government will also need to play a great role in facilitating the upgrading of industries and the improvement of infrastructure (Lin, 2011).
Though many scholars and policy makers have not yet agreed on the existence of the Chinese model of development or how it might look like, this has not stopped scholars from looking up to China as an example and neither has it also prevented China from strategically promoting part of its development as part of its economic diplomacy (Åberg and Becker, 2020).
It is in this regard that many African countries have tried or are trying to copy China’s model. This is the case of Ethiopia whose cordial relationship with China has led to the penetration of both state and private Chinese capital at different sectors of the Ethiopian economy (Ziso, 2020). Ethiopians are full of admiration for China because of the ‘Chinese economic miracle’ that has transformed China from a developing country into a major world economy and they want to emulate the Chinese model (Ziso, 2020).
In Zimbabwe, the over two decades of friendship between Zimbabwe and China has led to a Chinese investment of over US$2 billion in infrastructure like the new parliament, airport, water facilities and power stations (The Herald 2019 cited in Ganda, 2020:2). Beijing has also played a pivotal role in the survival of Zimbabwe’s regime in power helping the country to resist the sanctions melted on her by the USA and the EU (Ganda, 2020). This attractiveness of Africans
towards China can be felt today across many countries in Africa and this is demonstrated by significant investment Beijing has put in those countries.
3.3 The Theory of Constructivism
The theory of Constructivism in international relations focuses on the awareness of human beings and their place in world politics (Jackson and Sørensen, 2013). Constructivists believe in two basic tenets: “firstly, all the structures of human association are determined by shared ideas rather than material force and secondly the identity and interests of the different actors are always constructed by these shared ideas rather than being given by nature” (Wendt, 1999:1). Unlike other theories of international relations which have a one-sided material focus, constructivists argue that the important aspects of international relations are not focused on the material but rather on the ‘social’ and this social reality is not external or objective to the observers of global politics (Jackson and Sørensen, 2013). Because of its total rejection of one-sided material focus, Maja (2002) believes that constructivism has become an inescapable phenomenon in the global political arena.
Constructivists thus put forward the argument that people behave or do particular things in a particular way and not the other way because of the presence of certain ‘social constructs’ and these social constructs could be beliefs, ideas, identities or norms (Parsons, 2010). The importance of norms in global politics can no longer therefore be over emphasized. This is because Global Politics is shaped by norms. Relations between States, state and non-state actors, international organizations and so on are all shaped by norms. This is why Winston (2018) opines that Norms are among the most studied topics in the discipline of international relations. These norms could be shared values of human rights, democracy and freedom like the case of Western countries. Finnemore and Sikkink (1998:891), define norms as a “standard for appropriate behavior for actors operating within a given identity.”
According to Finnemore and Sikkink (1998) life cycle of norms, norms spread through three stages: the first stage being known as the norm emergence the second stage is norm acceptance or norm cascade, the third and final stage is norm internationalization. To summarize this process, an idea can emerge (first stage) and go through the process of norm acceptance or norm cascade where individual nations are being persuaded through development aid or loans or FDI as the case with nations to accept the norm (second stage) and once accepted, it becomes internationalized (third
stage). Duggan (2020) put forward that China has not only supported but has also led the development of a non-Western-constructed global governance policy.
4. Research Methodology
Research methodology constitutes a very important component of every scientific study as it helps researchers to not only explain but also to give vital meanings to the research problems, establish a framework for the research and the various procedures for a particular scientific research to take on (Dawson, 2002). In fact, it is the general philosophy guiding a research. This section therefore includes the research design, the sampling technique and the sample size determination, the method of data collection and finally the data analysis.
4.1 Research Design
The purpose of this research is to understand the perception of Africans towards the US model of democratic governance and China’s model of authoritarian capitalism. The literature review captured some relevant existing research within the field. This study’s review of literature covered the perceptions of Africans towards the US model of democratic governance and the perception of Africans towards China’s model of authoritarian capitalism. Then came the section for theoretical framework, where the concept of democratic governance as well as the concept of authoritarian capitalism were well explained.
This is a mixed method research design. A mixed method research makes use of both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis in a single study in order to understand the research question. This study is an exploratory sequential mixed method design. This is a type of research design whereby the researcher first begins by exploring the qualitative data, analyses the data then later makes use of quantitative data (Creswell and Creswell, 2018). The qualitative data is prioritized over quantitative data. This method of research is aimed at exploring and investigating a phenomenon which in this case is to understand the perception of Africans towards democratic governance and authoritarian capitalism. Qualitative data were collected through an interview conducted to ten participants from seven African countries, while the quantitative data were gotten from a survey carried out by Afrobarometer Round 8. Afrobarometer carried out a
survey in order to understand the perception of Africans towards which of these models of governance could be more effective in the future development of Africa. Among these models of governance included in the survey by Afrobarometer were the US model of democratic governance and China’s model of authoritarian capitalism. Exploratory sequential mixed method design is a very straightforward method and could as well be easy to implement.
4.2 Population of the Study
The population for this study constitutes the total number of people and the category of people used in this study. The study interviewed 10 persons in order to obtain the qualitative data. The study is a form of an expert interviews because it made use of people who have a good understanding of these two transnational political processes of governance. In this regard, the study made use of politicians, senior government employees, civil society leaders and lecturers in the field of political science or governance to be more precise. This category of people was gotten across the African continent. The study will also make use of Round 8 of Afrobarometer survey for the quantitative data.
4.2.1 Sample Size of the Study
Sample size of the research is the total number of items to be selected from a part of a population in order to represent the entire population (Kothari, 2004). The study made use of 10 participants. These participants were selected from across the African continent. The participants were well knowledgeable about the US model of democratic governance and China’s model of authoritarian capitalism. Having experts from seven African countries in the different regions of Africa was also a way to ensure that the study could make use of experts whose countries either admire China’s model of authoritarian Capitalism ( that is; authoritarian regimes in Africa) or the US model of democratic governance (democratic systems in Africa), thus ensuring a form of representativity. The sample size was also limited to 10 participants because the time used to carry out the study was relatively short and it was also less costly. Apart from this, quantitative data from Round 8 of Afrobarometer Survey was also included in the study.
4.2.2 Sampling Technique
This study used non-probability sampling technique for the qualitative data. This is a non-random selection. Kothari (2004), defines non-probability sampling as that sampling procedure which does not afford the probability that each item of the population to be studied is well represented in the sample size. Non-probability sampling was chosen because the idea was to carefully choose Africans with expertise knowledge on these two transnational political processes of governance. The experts were politicians, lecturers of political science and governance, senior government officials and civil society leaders with good knowledge about democratic governance and authoritarian capitalism.
The choice of this mode of sampling is also because it is less costly and the little timeframe involved in the carrying out of this study. Again, this is a period characterized by COVID-19 and every researcher that carries out research at this moment must be capable of taking into consideration the dynamics of the moment etc. The study thus made use of Purposive sampling to be more precise. According to Sarantakos (1998) with purposive sampling, the judgment of the researcher on the research participants remains supreme on the size and respondents which based on the researcher’s experience and with the desire of achieving the objectives of the study. This technique is also flexible and not very large and the sample size can as well be adjusted as the research is going on.
4.3 Methods of Data Collection
After a well-planned sampling procedure to connect the researcher and a specific number of respondents, the next stage was the process of data collection where we knew exactly which approach to use in order to collect the information which would enable us meet up with the objectives of the research and thus provide answers to the research questions. This study made use of both qualitative and quantitative data. The use of qualitative data from the interview and quantitative data from Afrobarometer survey was to enable a comprehensive understanding of the study by means of data triangulation in order to facilitate the validity of the data and confirmation of the findings. These data were also primary and secondary data.
The secondary data for the study comprises of secondary literature and quantitative data gotten from a survey carried out by Afrobarometer round 8 aimed at understanding the perception of Africans regarding which transnational model of governance they think can be better for Africans’ future development and. The perception of Africans from 18 African countries was taken into consideration. The primary data on the other hand (qualitative data) of the study were gotten through an interview conducted to 10 participants. According to Kothari (2004), secondary data are data collected by some other person and they have already passed through statistical analysis meanwhile, primary data are information collected afresh and are original in character.
4.3.1 Primary Data Collection
The primary data (qualitative data) were collected through an interview of 10 experts. Kothari (2004), defines interview as a method of collecting information that involves the presentation of oral to verbal discussions and responses. This study made use of semi-structured interviews. The interviews were guided by principles characterizing these two transnational political process of governance with the aim of meeting up with the research objectives, thus answering the research questions. Semi-structured interviews are good because they enable the researcher to have information from experts and this is a bit contrary to other methods of data collection. The use of semi-structured interviews enable us to dialogue and not being too fixed and from time to time, additional questions could be asked for the sake of clarification. Because of the desire to incorporate the expertise knowledge of these lecturers, civil society leaders, politicians and senior government employees, and also to keep social distancing as a result of COVID-19, we took advantage of the advancement in information and communication technology and carried out the interview through telephone calls, WhatsApp calls and through the computer (Zoom). The data collected from the interview were then transcribed. According to May (2011), interview is an effective method of data collection because it yields rich insights from people’s experience, attitude and aspirations. Because of COVID-19, carrying out online interviews helped keep social distancing and thus contributed to individual safety and it was also very cost effective.
4.3.2 Secondary Data Collection
The secondary data for the study comprises of quantitative data collected from Afrobarometer Round 8. The data represent the perceptions of Africans from 18 African countries about the
transnational model of governance they think could be better for the future development of Africa for the period 2019/2020. During the study, the researcher also made use of huge sources of other secondary literature in order to facilitate the understanding of the US model of democratic governance and China’s model of authoritarian capitalism. This information was gotten from politicians’ speeches, mass media and articles, E-books. These documents were gotten through newspapers, Malmö University E-library, Google Scholar and other websites etc.
4.4 Methods of Data Analysis
For the analysis of the primary data collected through interview, an interview form was produced and completed immediately after the interview. This was done in order to prevent the researcher from forgetting vital information gotten during the interview session. In order to focus on grasping the rich knowledge, expertise and experiences of the research participants, the researcher understood the process of data analysis with no preconception. The open-ended dialogue between the researcher and the participants in the form of an interview enabled the researcher to collect information which were then coded, the data were transcribed, the important responses were being highlighted and common terms among the respondents were identified. This was to enable the researcher to have a good structure in order to carry out the analysis. Notes were being taken as soon as the data collection process began and this enabled the researcher to take some important points coming from the data. The transcribed information was analyzed simultaneously as the data collection process took place. The primary data were finally analyzed in the form of direct speech. The secondary data obtained from Afrobarometer on the other hand were analyzed through Microsoft Excel and presented in the form of a bar chart.
4.5 Validity and Reliability of the Research Instrument
Reliability is the ability of ‘reproducibility’ of the results. This is the degree with which a given procedure for transforming a concept into a variable could produce the same results if tested repeatedly when the same empirical tools are employed, while Validity is the extent to which a given procedure for transforming a concept into a variable can actually be operationalized (Corbetta, 2003). Since this was a mixed method research, by making use of both qualitative and quantitative methods, this helped to offset automatically and to balance the weaknesses inherent
within the use of just one method by the strength of another method (Creswell and Creswell, 2018). This is triangulation. The use of both qualitative and quantitative data therefore facilitates a form of substantiated findings thus leading to well-validated result.
4.6 Ethical Considerations
According to Dawson (2002), the first step in being an ethical researcher is to understand that, researchers have the obligation to treat both the participants and information with respect and honesty. We understood the vulnerability of some participants because of the top positions some of them occupy in the government offices of certain African nations and this regard, the identity of the participants were all kept secret.
5. Data Presentation and Analysis
This section presents the analysis of the data gotten from the interviews (qualitative data) at first instance then proceeds with the analysis of the quantitative data gotten through a survey conducted by Afrobarometer Round 8. Ten participants from seven African countries were interviewed for the qualitative data. The study made use of a purposive sampling and it was an expert interview where only people with good knowledge about these two transnational political processes of governance were interviewed in order to understand how Africans perceive the US model of democratic governance and China’s model of authoritarian capitalism. This chapter therefore deals with the analysis of data obtained from the interviews (primary data) and the analysis of data obtained from Afrobarometer (secondary data). The data collected from the interviews and the analysis of these data will be done simultaneously while the quantitative data from Afrobarometer will be presented in the form of a bar chart.
5.1 Presentation and Analysis of Qualitative Data
These data were collected from semi-structured interviews. The interview form (see in appendix) produced helped to structure these interviews. Table 1 below shows the number of participants, their professions, countries, the time in which the interviews were conducted and the medium of communication.
Table 1: List of research participants. Countries Participants’
profession Number of participant/country Date and time of interview Medium of communication
Cameroon - Senior Government Official - Politician 2 - April 20, 2021; 19:10 – 19:44 WAT. - April 23, 2021; 20:23 – 20:58 WAT. - Phone call - Phone call Ghana - Civil Society
Leader - Government Official 2 - April 26, 2021; 19:02 – 19:33 WAT. - April 29, 2021; 18:07 – 19:32 WAT. - WhatsApp call - Zoom Kenya Expert in Governance and Regional Integration (Lecturer) 1 - April 24, 2021; 18:15 – 18:40 WAT. Zoom Nigeria - Expert in governance - Civil Society Leader 2 - April 25, 2021; 18:15 – 18:40 WAT. - April 28, 2021; 18:36 – 19:08 WAT. - Zoom - WhatsApp call Rwanda Expert in Governance and Regional Integration (Lecturer) 1 - April 26, 2021;
19:35 – 20:04 WAT. WhatsApp call
Gambia Government Official 1 April 30, 2021; 19:35 – 20:04 WAT Zoom Zambia Expert in Governance and Regional Integration (Lecturer) 1 April 27, 2021; 18:25 – 18:56 WAT. Zoom Total = 10
After transcribing the information gotten from the interviews, the key points which the participants raised during the interviews in order to link their perception of US model of democratic governance and China’s model of authoritarian capitalism were identified. Majority of the participants raised their perception of this Western model and China’s model by using indicators like human rights
and freedom and foreign direct investment. These perceptions all depended on the level of interaction they believe African countries hold with Western countries as well as with China.
5.1.1 Africans’ Perception of US Model of Democratic Governance (Western Democracy) and China’s Model of Authoritarian Capitalism
The interviewees showed great knowledge of the both models of governance and during the interviews, each interviewee demonstrated his or her thoughts about the model s/he thinks could be best for Africa. Most of the participants stated that Africans were more familiar with the Western model of democratic governance in terms of experience compared to China’s model of authoritarian capitalism. This is mainly because of the long interaction (since colonial era) Africans have had with countries like France, Britain, Belgium or Portugal which shared these common values linked to the US model of democratic governance. This is not the case with China’s model where interaction with Africa only intensified after the ‘Forum on China-Africa Cooperation’ in 2000 (Enuka, 2010). Again, there seems to still be a lot of disagreement about the nature of this model (Åberg and Becker, 2020). Answering the question on how they perceive the
US model of democratic governance and China’s model of authoritarian capitalism, some of the
research participants said the following:
For the Cameroonian government official; “democratic governance was laid down to Africans by
their colonial masters which for the case of Cameroon was Britain and France. Cameroonians on their part are perhaps aware of the guiding principles of democratic governance even though they may not fully practice them. Today, though Cameroon is described by many observers as an authoritarian system, the country is still working hard to have a workable democratic system. However, many are of the opinion that China’s model got some good aspects especially when it comes to uplifting people out of poverty.”
Though the Cameroonian government official says Cameroon is working to improve its
democratic system, over the years, Cameroon has been classified by the Economic Intelligence Unit as an authoritarian regime in Africa (Varrella, 2021).
The Ghanaian government official on his part is proud of the democratization system being put in place in Ghana over the years. Ghana today is ranked as a flawed democracy (Varrella, 2021)
and Ghana has also witnessed several peaceful transitions of power between the opposition party and the party in power. This is a situation not very common in sub-Saharan Africa.
For the Ghanaian government official; “democratic governance is well-known to Ghanaians and
Ghana is today being regarded as a model of Africa’s democracy. Though Ghana still got some flaws into its democratic system, we are proud to say that we are working hard towards a process of having a fully functioning democratic system where all the sons and daughter of Ghana will be proud to belong. We believe in a system of governance that guarantees individuals’ rights and freedom of everyone within our society including the minority groups.”
On the other hand, China’s model is well-known to the Rwandan expert and even much appreciated within their society. He believes that his country is trying to move towards China’s model of authoritarian capitalism: a state-led development model (Babones, 2020). According to him, after the sad history of Rwanda, it was important for the country to focus on uplifting people out of poverty by providing them better systems of education, health care and other basic necessities of life. This to him can easily be accomplished when the government is fully implicated in the process.
The Rwandan expert thus noted: “it is clear with us that the Chinese model could be a better model
for our country and our country has been working hard to have its own version of the Chinese model being implemented within the country. We believe this model can help uplift many of our citizens out of poverty and help create a workable system. ”
Another important point raised by the participants for the importance of democratic governance in Africa is its ability to include all the diversity characterizing the African society. Most of African nations are characterized by communities which were entirely independent before the colonial era and having their own functioning systems. The only way therefore to exhibit this diversity is to have a participatory form of governance that will bring together all the relevant actors on the decision-making table in order to have sustainable outcomes (Grote and Gbikpi, 2002). While many of the participants saw diversity in their nations as a reason why democratic governance is supposed to be the best model of governance for the country, the Rwandan expert simply sees diversity as the more reason why democratic governance cannot work for Africa.
In his words, the Rwandan expert stated: “Democratic governance seems to be bringing a lot of
competing interest to the table in African countries that makes it difficult for something to be done with ease. There are too many voices, too many players and this makes it difficult to have a particular orientation for the country. This is because a lot of players always emerge making it difficult to have a common understanding of certain key issues at some point in time.”
The participants above from Cameroon, Ghana and Rwanda portray an atmosphere of the intense debate currently going on within the African continent. While the Ghanaian government official for instance believes democratic governance is the best form of governance that could bring about social cohesion, accountability and transparency and thus leading to development in Ghana, the Rwandan expert on his part believes in the Chinese model as the best model that could help in the provision of social and economic benefits for the Rwandan citizens and the African continent as a whole.
The debate on the most suitable model of governance is therefore socially constructed. This is consistent with Jackson and Sørensen (2013) who believe that the particularity of constructivism in the arena of Global Politics is not one-sided. It is based on the beliefs and the ideas that inform the actors of the political scene as well as the shared understanding between these political actors (Jackson and Sørensen, 2013). This is why from the experience of the Rwandan expert, he is arguing in favor of China’s model while the Ghanaian expert is arguing from his shared belief and experience in favor of democratic governance.
5.1.2 Africans’ Perception of Rising Human Rights Violation and Authoritarianism due to Interaction with China
Here, the discussions were very intense as some participants expressed themselves with a deep regret on the fact that many countries across Africa have mostly been likened to a ‘land of terror’ for opposition political parties as well as other minority groups and journalists. Contrary to this, quite a few participants viewed issues of human rights as secondary and mostly needed for a functioning society. To these participants, Africans must focus firstly on having a well-organized society that can provide hospital beds to its citizens, education, job opportunities and so on than focusing on human rights.
However, most of the participants were of the opinion that China’s interaction with the African continent is leading to a rise in authoritarianism in Africa thus causing a lot of human rights violation within the African continent. According to Taylor (2008), though China’s economic and political interaction with Africa is increasing at an exponential rate, this interaction has attracted a lot of criticism mainly because of its principles of ‘no strings attached’ on human rights and on issues of governance. This policy seems to have attracted a lot of admiration from many African leaders mostly because it serves as an opportunity for them to subvert the socio-economic rights of their citizens while at the same time trampling on their civil and political rights.
The participants noted that there seems to be a rising tendency of authoritarianism and human rights violation in Africa because African leaders now see China as a competitor to Western countries and the Bretton Wood Institutions from where they can easily obtain political backing as well as economic resources which cannot be obtained from Western democratic systems where human rights is sacrosanct. This is consistent with Taylor (2006) who put forward that China’s interest in Africa coincides with an increasing desire by Western democratic countries to promote liberal democratic norms in Africa. Some of the striking points of the interviews are seen below. The Gambian government official stated: “across the continent, some leaders seem not to care
much about the principles of democratic governance which is sometimes a sine-qua-non to maintain a good friendly relationship with the West. These autocrat leaders across Africa are fully aware that China will be there to provide them with the necessary protection and money whenever in need, even when their countries’ capacities to repay may not be fully guaranteed.”
Other participants put forward the fact that some African leaders have maintained themselves for decades in power and continuously changed the constitution in a complete disregard of their citizens. These leaders often organized elections just to legitimatize themselves in power and these elections are usually characterized by a lot of elections ‘malpractices’. This is why Olawole et al. (2013) put forward that elections are not only held in democratic systems but can also be a technique for designating ex officio without necessarily having elements of a true democracy. Most often, these elections malpractices lead to post electoral conflicts which further leads to loss of lives and properties, plaguing the economy into some periods of difficulties.
For the Cameroonian Politician; “when most of the unpopular leaders in Africa who have been in
power for decades organized elections, they used all mechanisms including oppressing the opposition parties and their supporters, journalists and so on just to maintain themselves in power. They do this because they count on their external backing and some of these external backings are actually coming from these autocratic nations.”
This is the same situation with the Nigerian civil society leader who believes that human rights are inalienable rights and Africans ought not to accept any form of development that violates human rights.
As such, the Nigerian civil society leader stated: “there have been fundamental human rights
violations in many African countries in spite of the fact that many of these countries have signed and ratified the universal declaration of human rights and this tendency seems to be on an increase. These human rights violations range from tortures, random arrests, and prohibition to freedom of peaceful assembly and associations, freedom of expression and opinion. It is really sad to see that in the 21st century, some African governments still subject their citizens to all forms of
inhuman treatment because of the need to preserve power. I think no matter the level of development we may need, if that development does not ensure the respect for human rights and freedom, that form of governance may not really be needed for Africans.”
The interviewees are affirmative of the fact that China’s interaction with the African continent is leading to an increasing authoritarianism in Africa and human rights violation because of the fact that China doesn’t base its relations with African countries on the respect for human rights and freedom and are always willing to loan money to African countries with several mechanisms of repayment including Resources for Infrastructure (RFI). Resource for Infrastructure (RFI) is a model of financing used by China to finance major infrastructural projects in Africa and in return the receiving countries promise to repay the loan used for the constructed infrastructures with the use of future revenue realized from the sale of its resources (Olander, 2019).
According to majority of the research participants, the various mechanisms put in place by China to ensure the smooth functioning of its relations with the African continent have made many pundits to believe that autocrat leaders now see China as a ‘safe haven’ to protect their self-interest while at the same time violating the constitutions and the rights and freedom of their citizens. This
is consistent with Naím (2007) who believes that China is using its cash to ensure access to raw materials, boosting its international alliance in order to continue to grow its global influence while at the same time continues pushing for an alternative model of development, which is not sustainable, encourages corruption, is chaotic and authoritarian in nature.
This situation can be further explained by the constructivist concept of ‘life cycle of norms’ of Finnemore and Sikkink (1998) who opine how nations use various strategies including persuasion in order to get their norms internationalized. China uses its money and its principle of ‘no strings attached’ in order to persuade countries and get its model of authoritarianism internationalized.
5.1.3 Africans’ Perception of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa by Western Countries and China
The interviewees pinpointed the important points that characterized Western democratic countries investments as well as those of China within the African continent. The participants advanced the point that the African continent is in dire need of investment in many sectors in order to improve the living conditions of its citizens. For the past two decades, after the organization of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in the year 2000, China has massively increased its investment in Africa (Nnajiofor, 2019) and this has lured African leaders who started looking at China as an alternative to Western investments.
Prior to this growing Chinese influence in Africa, and because of the historical perspectives that link African nations to Western culture and civilization, African leaders have always shown greater preference for Western businesses to establish within the African continent (Nnajiofor, 2019). According to the Zambian expert; “the difference with China is that when Western companies
regarded Africa through the lens of development aid, China saw an opportunity to do business with the African continent. This is because in the late 20th century, Africa was characterized with
a lot of challenges ranging from civil wars in many parts of Africa, diseases most especially HIV and AIDS. Many African countries were admitted into the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and Africa was also characterized by lots of humanitarian crisis as a result of the civil wars. So many Western companies retaliated to invest in Africa. Instead, China organized
FOCAC in 2000 in order to strengthen the Sino-African cooperation on the basis of mutual and equal benefits for the prosperity of China and the African continent.”
China is today present in all the key sectors of Africa’s development through its investments and these investments integrate large scale infrastructural projects, resource extraction, bilateral development lending etc. and this makes it difficult to distinguish between Chinese aid and FDI (Ajakaiye et al, 2008 cited in Kaplinskya and Morris : 561). However, most of Chinese business dealings with the African continent lack transparency and accountability and very few communication is generally done by the political elite on their modus operandi to the citizens. The Nigerian expert noted; “Western democratic countries are also doing a lot for Africa and this
is having a direct impact in the lives of many individuals across the African continent. The only difference is that China deals directly with the governments, whereas Western countries got agencies across Africa which are investing a lot in terms of development aid to improve the lives of Africans on daily basis.”
Many participants were therefore of the opinion that China’s dealings seem to be more visible because they deal directly ‘Government to Government’ and this turns to benefit the political elite class the more because of its lack of transparency and accountability. They therefore lead the national political discourse to orientate citizens’ perception of China’s model. Whereas Western countries deal mostly with organizations on the ground. Besides, a very important portion of the private sector in Africa is still controlled by multinational companies from Western democratic countries (Nnajiofor, 2019). Additionally, institutions like the World Bank are involved in financing a lot of infrastructural projects in Africa, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) – an independent US foreign assistance agency is supporting many developing countries in poverty alleviation and economic growth. However, these institutions operate on the strict principles of good governance as a sine-qua-non to realize their projects.
For the Ghanaian civil society leader; “Western organizations are involved in a lot of micro
projects in Africa that improve the lives of Africans on daily basis. During this period of COVID-19, Western organizations have been very instrumental in supporting our African governments in combatting this deadly virus.”