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The De Colonization Of Africa Essay

3515 words - 14 pages

The De-Colonization of Africa

When a country such as South Africa, or for that matter most African nations, changes governing power, a sufficiently stable social basis is vital to the survival and consolidation of the new political system and transition to democracy. The history of the de-colonization of Africa forewarned South Africa allowing it to prepare for the ensuing changes it faced in the early nineties. South Africa made adequate reforms in its military in order to make the transition to democracy smooth, peaceful, and successful however despite its efforts many of the formal political changes in South Africa were not accompanied by sufficient social change. Although South Africa did have many problems in its transition, it was better prepared for the change to a true democracy than most of the other African countries at the time.
In its transition to democracy, South Africa was quite different from the rest of the African countries because a single race democracy already existed. Prior to 1994 there were general elections with an elected official made president, however the elections only included the white portion of the population. In all of the other African countries the transition to democracy was from an authoritarian colonial rule, not from a single race democracy (Bratton 68).
South Africa was also different from the other African countries that were moving towards democracy at the time because of its military structure. The Chief of Defense Force, the head South African military officer, was responsible to the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee and thus could not make decisions that were not approved by a larger body. As long as the public perceived that the government had control of the army, it would not hinder its attempts at keeping the peace during the transition to a multi-racial democracy. The army and its actions were legitimized by the government and thus did not need to use force in order to coerce the public into supporting them (Griffiths 397).
When it made the transition to a true democracy, South Africa was better prepared than the other democratizing African countries in relation to military readiness, economic standing, and the level of education amongst the general population. Despite being better prepared than most, South Africa was in no way fully prepared, and as recent history has already proved South Africa has encountered problems with its transition to a multi-racial democracy.
According to Robert J. Griffiths, "one crucial element of successful democratic transition and consolidation is an alteration in the pattern of civil-military relations" (395). During the rule of apartheid in South Africa the South African Defense Forces (SADF) played an extremely important role in maintaining the governments control over its citizens (Griffiths 395). In order for the change from South Africa's racially exclusive democracy to a multi-racial democracy to work, the SADF would have to decrease its...

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