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Democratic Local Government and Responsiveness: Lessons from Zimbabwe and Tanzania

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image of International Journal of Comparative Sociology
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Based on case studies in Tanzania and Zimbabwe, this article investigates the proposition that democratic local government is coupled with high level of responsiveness. None of the selected councils are particularly responsive. When trying to explain this finding, I draw on both state-centred and society-centred theories of political decision-making. It is the state-centred theories that prove to have most explanatory power. Although the character of the social formation differs substantially between the two countries (chieftainship plays a much more prominent role in Zimbabwe), this is not a decisive factor. The argument that the level of popular participation is a key factor in explaining responsiveness is examined in depth. The argument has certain relevance. However, it is argued that the councils' degree of financial autonomy from central government have more significant bearings on responsiveness.

Affiliations: 1: Norwegian Institute of Urban and Regional Research (NIBR), Box. 44, Blindern, N-0313 Oslo.


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