Southern Africa has experienced highs and lows in its efforts towards democratisation. Following political independence of Southern Africa states, the germination of democratisation was a rather slow process. A brief period of multi-party democracy introduced through pre-independence elections quickly dissipated and was replaced by one-party, one-person and, in some instances, military regimes. This era also coincided with the height of the Cold War globally and the heyday of apartheid in which inter-state conflicts had intensified. Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, a new dispensation has emerged wherein multi-party democracy has re-emerged in the context of the post-Cold War and post-apartheid dispensation, marked by relative peace dividend. However, democratisation in Southern Africa remains a mixed bag today. Some countries have not yet experienced the democratic transition. Others have managed to transition from one-party, one-person and military regimes to multi-party democracies. In various others, there are signs of reversal of democratic gains. This paper reviews the state of democratisation in Southern Africa with a view to understand why the regional record is so uneven across countries that form the Southern African Development Community (SADC). While the article presents a regional snapshot, it also presents comparative insights from Botswana and Lesotho.
In this article, the issue of the Western Sahara is addressed by linking it to that of democratisation; to establish this link the argument is threefold. I first refer to the construction of Morocco’s national political space by creating a national identity and considering those of Algeria and the Sahrawi. The issue of the Moroccan regime and its strategies for survival by taking the lead in the Western Sahara issue is examined. Finally both the relevance and the influence of the future of the Western Sahara in the evolution of the current Moroccan political transition is considered.