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Title: The interface between central and local interests in Malawi's democratic decentralisation : the case of Salima District Council
Author: Kasiya, Alinafe
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 5004
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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Malawi is pursuing democratic decentralisation with duo objectives to enhance democracy at the local level and to promote poverty reduction. These reforms are largely driven by bilateral and multilateral development agencies as part of the good governance agenda, which is polluted with varying interests. This thesis argues that while in principle democratic decentralisation is desirable the pre-requisites for making it work are absent in Malawi. To a certain extent this is due to the nature of the Malawi state, which conforms to the logic of the African neopatrimonial state with unique characteristics such as personalisation and concentration of power in the dominant patron, dominance of vertical over horizontal ties, and weak separation of public and private spheres. Democratic decentralisation threatens ruling elites by promising to create spaces at the local level where the opposition can thrive. As a result reforms are characterised by centralisation as the ruling elites try to protect power and access to state resources. These characteristics can be traced back to the colonial regime and the one party state both of which were heavily centralised. At the local level chiefs, and members of parliament with ruling party connections have captured reforms and are influential in the allocation of resources. In exchange for privileges and status these actors are increasingly being co-opted by the centre to extend its control of the local arena. The result is the superficial implementation of reforms, which may further entrench neopatrimonial characteristics of the state. In the absence of strong downward accountability development agencies can play a key role to push government towards reforms. Yet local and central interests make this an uphill task. This explains the partial implementation of reforms in Malawi.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral