Power sharing

“The belief was that the relationship with the future, the presence of the future in the present could only be accomplished in the face-to-face with the Other (the former enemy) and in the mutual recognition of each other’s humanity. Such was the powerful utopia that moved, all around the world, the global anti-apartheid movement. This project is still unfinished. But the idea of mutual recognition and reciprocal humanity evidenced in the philosophy of the TRC, or in this country’s attempt to turn cells and torture chambers into courts of law and places of memory and hope – all of this is still the best gift our continent has ever given to the future of the humankind.” – Achille Membe

South Africa‘s rocky road to freedom was premised on the establishment of the the Government of National Unity, a constitutionaly-defined multi-party government that came into existence after the 1994 elections. Hardly surprising then, South Africa, especially under the helm of Thabo Mbeki has been one of the major proponents of “power-sharing” as a way of resolving conflicts in Africa. But how successful is this model?

Between 1990 and 2009, Africa had 17 attempts at power-sharing in an effort to retire civil wars and political disagreements. The countries that have experienced the signing of power-sharing agreements are:  Mali, Cote d’ivore, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Sudan, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Burundi, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros, Zimbabwe and more recently Guinea-Conakry, Madagascar.

In early 2008 the Kenyan power sharing deal was brokered.

In May 2008 Zanzibar was in deadlock of more than a year in forming a power-sharing government. Talks between the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, or Party of the Revolution) and the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) faltered earlier this year, leaving the Zanzibar islands, where politics have often turned violent, in limbo. More here.

Power-sharing was long proposed by South Africa as a way of mediating Zim’s conflict. In July 2008 negotiations towards power-sharing finally began  after month’s of uncertainty following Zimbabwe’s March 2008 elections.  Read the Zimbabwean power-sharing agreement here.

In early 2008 Le Monde diplomatique ran this story on sanctions and power-sharing (echoes what was to come in Zim): Transition to peace in Ivory Coast: Last March, after five years of civil war in Ivory Coast, both sides agreed to share power . But after delays in disarming the militias and listing voters, the UN decided to maintain sanctions and elections have been postponed.

We analyse the model.


  1. Chimurenga Newsroom › The End of Elections - February 2, 2011

    [...] power-sharing agreement in turmoil, uncertainty following Zimbabwe’s March 2008 elections (see Power Sharing) and the end of the Mbeki era This was written by stacy. Posted on Tuesday, February 1, 2011, at [...]

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