Politics of Democratisation in Rural Mozambique Grassroots Governance in Mecúfi

Author: Harrison, Graham


“The work develops a well informed analysis of state formation in Mozambique from the perspective of three processes: the nature of state and market relations, and how this affected the insertion of rural society into the national economy; the construction of local state power structures as the Frelimo sought to ‘embed’ its authority at a grassroots level; and finally, the importance, but also complexity, of lineage politics and its impact on local power structures. Throughout the study, the conceptual analysis of state formation and democratisation in rural society is developed with insight and clarity throughout the text. Thus it constitutes an important contribution to the theoretical debates in the democratisation literature, as it engages in the critical questions of the construction of regime legitimacy and governance in rural based societies. Moreover, the piece is well researched, and written with methodological rigour and clarity.” – Dr. Pilar Domingo

“This most useful new book by Harrison helps to fill a big gap in the English language literature on Mozambique, by providing a detailed study of the impact of the tumultuous changes on a rural district in the north of the country…. The book’s merits go far beyond this, however, as it casts light on wider continental issue of state-society interaction and governance…. The weight of history bears heavily on the present, in terms of local people’s perceptions, as his careful and open ended analysis reveals, Harrison provides us with a detailed and invariably insightful case study of Mecufi, a coastal district in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado.” – Progress in Development Studies

“What Harrison does extremely well is to explore the subtleties of Frelimo’s efforts to construct and legitimate its authority in a particular rural area. His findings present a more nuanced image of local political interactions than is usually credited in analyses that have typically been concentrated at national and metropolitan levels of politics, economic policy and intellectual formation…. this book is above all a sustained reminder that political legitimacy and indeed capitalist markets tend to be developed through coercion, normally including physical violence…. this book… is a very useful contribution to the discussion of ‘real democratization’, the management of the past, and the complex negotiation of local rural political authority.” – African Affairs

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Tables, Preface
1. Conceptualising Rural Democracy
2. Mecúfi’s History
3. Rural Governance and Agrarian Markets
4. The Grassroots Construction of Authoritarianism
5. Traditional Power and its Absence
6. Mozambique’s 1994 Multiparty Elections
Bibliography; Index