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Afr j polit sci 1998 Vol 3 No 1 20 41 Towards the Creation of an African Civil Military Relations Tradition Rocky Williams Abstract This paper seeks first to underscore the limitations of Western models of civil control which African countries employ to create stable civil military relations Second it uses the recent experience of Southern African civil military relations to illustrate the extent to which effective civil control over the military has been secured through a combination of objective and subjective mecahnisms And finally it suggests some revisions in the conceptual architecture of late modern civil military relations theory so as to ensure that discipline is more consistent with the exigencies of the African political landscape Introduction The influence of Western intellectual and political traditions over both the political and intellectual traditions of the developing countries of the periphery has been well chronicled by a range of scholars and political analysts alike The economic dependence of African countries on their former colonial masters was replicated in the introduction of various political educational and intellectual systems that were markedly similar in both form and content to those of the departing Western colonisers Both the armed forces of African countries and the patterns of civilmilitary relations which began to emerge during the post colonial period mirrored this close ascriptive relationship between coloniser and colonised Although the ethnic and racial composition of the armed forces of the newly independent countries changed significantly in the first decade following independence their culture traditions and corporate identity remained strongly influenced by the discourses and ideological themes of the Western armed forces The emerging patterns of post independence civil military relations were also marked at the level of institutions and mechanisms by a strong similarity between 1027 0353 199a African Association of Political Science Towards the Creation of an African Civil Military Relations Tradition 21 the formal mechanisms and institutions of civil control found in the metropole and those introduced in the newly independent countries Virtually all African countries possess on paper at least the battery of formal mechanisms via which it is claimed civil control over the armed forces is ensured although the form of these mechanisms may vary depending on the country concerned and the politicojuridical system which they have inherited and subsequently adapted Countries possessing a stronger legislative tradition tend to emphasise the role of the legislative mechanisms entrusted with the task of civil oversight parliamentary committees ombudsman systems and approval of the budget for example Other countries with a stronger executive culture may rely more extensively on the regulatory role of civil servants finance ministries and presidential control to ensure the subordination of the armed forces to civil control An analysis of the political institutions of most African countries therefore reveals a range of formal mechanisms designed to ensure the maintenance of stable civil military relations Typically these include constitutional provisions regulating the functions of the armed forces parliamentary defence committees public accounts committees audit and exchequer acts internal audits and service regulations In some countries fully fledged Ministries of Defence and Military Ombudsman systems exist whilst in others creative and varied forms of civilian oversight over the armed forces have been instituted Notwithstanding this range of formal mechanisms the reality underpinning African civil military relations and indeed the civil military relations of most developing countries is the fact that in most countries the subordination of the armed forces to civil control when this has occurred has been achieved by a complex system of processes and interfaces of a non institutional nature In virtually all these countries where the armed forces remain subordinate to the civil authorities regardless of whether the latter are democratically elected or not real control over the armed forces is wielded via a range of subjective interfaces and partnerships of which the formal mechanisms are either a component or are alternatively merely the formal expression of these power relations The aim of this article in relation to the above is threefold Firstly it seeks to outline the limitations of the Western intellectual traditions in providing models of civil control which African countries can utilise in creating stable civil military relations The importance of reconstructing the central concepts of modern civilmilitary relations theory and the manner in which they are applied to developing countries has already been referred to in recent literature A number of analysts have succinctly outlined the weaknesses of current modern civil military relations theory particularly its historically and culturally bound nature Schiff 1996 and 1995 17 Secondly to concretise the theoretical observations proffered above this article examines the recent tradition of Southern African civil military relations and illustrates the extent to which effective civil control over the activities 22 Rocky Williams ofthearmedforceshasbeensecuredbyarobustcombinationofbothobjectiveand subjecreforms of control It highlights the centrality of subject ve P e s s e s and partnerships in ensuring stable African civil military relations regardless of toe S e a l culture of the country concerned Finally it suggests some revisions to the conceptual architecture and scaffolding of late modem civ l m l tary relat ons Z o as to ensure that this discipline is more consistent w th the exigences o African political processes The creation of such a theoretical architecture s of course an ambitious project and will require time and ongomg research to develop but it does have very practical consequences Any limitations or mcons stencies within our civil military relations theory can result in the introduction of models of civil military relations entirely inappropriate to and ineffective w thm African countries It is for this reason that a rigorous and radical critique of many of the key assumptions of modern civil military relations theory is required The Limitations of Formal Mechanisms of Civil Control Key Features of the Western Civil Military Relations Tradition Inanumberofrecentcritiques


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