Africa’s military governments can be described and classified according to different criteria, considering the ways in which they have taken and legitimize their power, or the role they played or they are playing in the passage from military authoritarianism to indirect democracy. In any case, the antithesis between military government and civilian democracy shouldn’t be taken for granted, as shown by the recent taxonomy of power which categorises today’s African military on the basis of their capabilities as enablers, providers and followers of the neoliberal democratic agenda. Therefore, the real problem is not represented by the army per se, but by the military and civilian rule capacity to include the dimension of social justice into the democratic system. In today’s Africa the real difference between a “good” and a “bad” government depends on the definition that is given to the term “democracy”, and much less on the involvement or not of the military in the government.
Stefano Bellucci, International Institute of Social History (IISH), Amsterdam.