chapter  2
17 Pages

Policing inconsequence in Africa: Towards a theory of government indifference to citizenship and insecurity


The introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in the 1980s by the International Monitoring Fund (IMF) began the socioeconomic redefinition of the sub-Saharan African continental landscape. This period coincided with heightened periods of insecurity and social conflicts in nations across the continent (Heidhues and Obare, 2011). Though the SAP policy reforms were essential for macroeconomic development, they paid little attention to the social aspects of the African environment and the institutional weaknesses of African governments to transfer policies to development opportunities for the citizens (Heidhues and Obare, 2011). Thus places of unemployment and poverty were created, where opportunities are visible, but not reachable. Such places have the tendency to create and conserve crime and social conflicts through social learning, association, and adaptation (Merton, 1938; Sutherland, 1947). Many African postcolonial states have operated through a systemic colonial hangover of domination, which became evident through insurgencies and other forms of social conflicts. This situation seems to have entrenched a new collectivist culture of pecuniary interests in formal governments and exchanged the collectivist welfare culture of African informal communities to the modernist’s ethos of individualism. The fallout from these processes, which has progressed since the 1970s, is the formalization of a ‘we group’ in government that is distinct from the rest of society – the ‘outgroup’ (see Hofstede, 2001, pp. 225-226) – creating a culture of inconsequence. In this analysis, the term ‘inconsequence’ is used to denote the state of insignificance associated with the contributions of African citizens to national development, and, by extension, to the global commons. The colonial hangover of domination in sub-Saharan African nations, notably Nigeria and South Africa, and the exchange of the informal collectivist welfare culture in African communities for a collectivist culture of pecuniary interest  – corruption and cronyism in formal governmental places  – have resulted in a progressive adoption of a mental model that diminishes the values of leadership  – moral and political  – and the worth of citizenship. Corruption and cronyism identify a fundamental conflict of

values based on a skewed understanding of the processes and purpose of government. This chapter presents a theoretical examination of the processes and the effects of this ‘culture of inconsequence’ on the well-being of the modern generation of African citizens and its relationship with the present state of insecurity across the continent through the moral and political values or mental models adopted for governance. A spatially based risk estimation conceptual framework is developed, which can be adopted to understand the manifestation of these factors of inconsequence and to create policies to address them. Critical elements of insecurity in crisis countries in Africa include the lack of a welfare system for the unemployed populace, inequitable standards of remuneration, poverty, environmental hazards, a poor state of health infrastructure, the use of government security forces to cause fear, a lack of capacity to settle violent conflicts, fear of crime, and social conflicts (Mehler, 2009). In this context, ‘human security’ is used interchangeably with ‘insecurity’, as both terms reflect a state of social, economic, political, and physiological disharmony within an environment. The objective of aligning elements of human security as factors of inconsequence – from poverty and deprivation to institutional governance – is to create a direct linkage and index of accountability to national governance and to the values of leadership in governing places. It is assumed that the lack of the value or worth (the degree of acceptance as a member of the social, economic, and political family) placed on the contributions of citizens determines the commitment of citizens to the nation state. Such opposing relationships between the state and its citizens maintain a climate of insecurity bordering on non-commitment to the goals and objectives of statehood by either party. This provides compelling reasons for a theoretical examination of the effect of the moral and political values of post-independent African leadership, particularly among the major economic powers in sub-Saharan Africa – from Nigeria to South Africa – through the effects of their socio-economic and political stewardships on conflicts and insecurity within the continent. The suggested index links both the values of leadership and insecurity.