Leadership for transformational change in Africa

Africa has a ‘leadership crisis’, according to much of the literature. Yet little research has focused on what can be done to tackle the problems of corruption, neopatrimonialism and ‘big man’ politics that many see as symptoms of this crisis. This research project is attempting to fill this gap by exploring the role of leadership in cases of transformational change in different contexts in Africa.

The research team will be asking how and where developmental leadership emerges, and how can it be nurtured and supported. The first phase of this project involves eight case studies in four countries at the local, regional and national levels exploring themes as diverse as political settlements, women’s representation, human rights, service delivery, municipal government and anti-corruption.

Ghana

Human rights protection and enforcement: How has Ghana become a free and open society since the 1980s? This case study explores the role of various organisations and civil society movements in this transformation.

The National Health Insurance Scheme: This new funding system was introduced in 2003. While not uncontroversial, it has significantly increased access to healthcare. This case study explores the role of leadership in the scheme’s introduction and its improvement of healthcare indicators.

South Africa

Defence of public protector office against high-level resistance: Thuli Madonsela is South Africa’s Public Protector, a role created by the constitution (similar to an ombudsman). She recently held President Zuma to account over the use of taxpayers’ money to refurbish his home, for which he and the government have since admitted fault. This case explores how and why Madonsela was able to protect the office of the public protector despite strong opposition.

Municipal governance in Saldanha Bay – development gains against the odds: Unlike other municipalities with similar levels of income, poverty and inequality, Saldanha has few service delivery protests, and government data places it in the top 10% of municipalities in achieving development indicators. Dr van Wyk has investigated the municipal government’s role in these achievements.

Tanzania

The political settlement in the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar: In 2009 an agreement behind closed doors (Maridhiano) created a power-sharing system that survived until the 2015 elections. This case study explores the role of leadership in achieving this arrangement, and the Maridhiano’s effect on the public perception of the conflict and its possible resolution.

Women’s representation in decision-making bodies: Women’s representation in Tanzania’s parliament has slowly but steadily increased since 2000. This case study explores how the women’s movement has contributed to these gains.

Uganda

Transformation of Uganda’s National Water and Sewerage Corporation, 1998-2013: Over 15 years, William Muhairwe improved the NWSC’s services, finances, management, staff performance and external relations, and showed that it could succeed as a public corporation. This case study explores how Muhairwe was able to transform the NWSC, despite opposition to his vision.

Kampala City Council Authority’s improvement of public services: This case explores the role of leadership and governance arrangements in improving Kampala’s services, especially public transport and rubbish collection.
 

DLP researchers: Heather Lyne de Ver and Suda Perera

Research partners:

  • Prof Mohammed Ali Bakari (University of Dar es Salaam)
  • Dr Victor Brobbey (Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration)
  • Dr Frederick Golooba-Mutebi (Independent)
  • Dr Alexander Makulilo (University of Dar es Salaam)
  • Prof Jo-Ansie van Wyk (UNISA)

Supported by:   

 

Image: A Kampala street (Photo: Colin Campbell)

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About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

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