Developmental Authoritarianism in Africa
The cases of Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda
Keywords:Development, authoritarianism, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda
Post-independence Africa saw a rise in authoritarianism; however, this political system was led by malevolent autocrats who ruled with an iron fist, accumulating absolute power, redirecting wealth to small coalitions, and passing policies favouring only a few. However, these ideals and principles have evolved over the past decade, noticeably in countries like Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda, introducing a different variant of authoritarianism, known as “developmental authoritarianism.” Ostensibly inspired by the Chinese authoritarian developmentalism model, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda should be studied to comprehend the objectives and functionality of this school of thought. In these East African cases, this article scrutinises whether the culture ostensibly cultivates the sacrifice of individual liberties for common objectives, countering liberal principles while promoting economic prosperity and development. The political leadership of these political systems is pivotal in achieving socioeconomic development in Africa. Benevolent autocrats like Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, President Paul Kagame, and President Yoweri Museveni, among others in Africa, are critical in bolstering economic growth and ensuring state development for their countries. However, achieving rapid economic growth and robust state development comes at the cost of forgone civil liberties, as human rights violations persist in these countries. Notably, the culture within these countries fosters severed liberties for the common good. This article investigates this fairly new political system in Africa, how it is used by these East African regions, and the ostensible African culture which subdues many into accepting illiberal practices for ostensible broad-based economic prosperity and state development.