Karl P. Magyar
In his discussion of Africa's civil-military pendulum, Professor Ali Mazrui raises the central issues of contention when examining the sensitive problem of the military's role in African society. He identifies in stark terms the tendency of civilian-led governments to offer greater freedom but to lose control over the economic resources of the state, while military governments impose greater discipline but at the price of political liberties. This characterizes Nigeria's history since independence and also Ghana's, of whose civilian-led Limann administration Mazrui observes, "the people of Ghana seemed to be more angered by the economic sins of the Administration than pleased by the political virtues of an open society."19
An examination of Africa's civilian-military interplay cannot avoid these issues. Are civilian regimes generally corrupt and incompetent? Are military regimes more honest and efficient, but also politically more authoritarian? Have one-party states offered the greatest opportunity for socioeconomic advancement? And do the masses of Africans prefer governmental economic integrity and their own advancement to the more abstract symbols of political democracy?
The answers to these questions should inform the debate about the virtues of civilian versus military regimes, and it may also highlight the importance of the analytic perspective. Do Western academic and policy analysts sufficiently appreciate the preferences of those most directly affected by the consequences of policies in Africa? Should the prevailing Western democratic paradigm be justifiably assumed to be the appropriate universal panacea for the Third World's ills? In a brief projection of South Africa's political future under a majority government I raised the question: Will South Africa's blacks ultimately judge their liberation by the attainment of abstract political symbols or by their visible economic advancement?
The implications of these questions for the external community are profound, as their recent energies have been channeled towards encouraging Africans to