The Art of Divide and Rule

Divide and rule is a concept that coincides with the law of imperialism and colonialism, much of which Africa experienced at the hands of the Western world. The concept is usually described as a time when rulers strategically sustained power through exploiting coordination problems among potential rivals. Simplified, the concept refers to a time in which foreign leaders gained and sort to maintain power by breaking concentrations of power that are unable to function when standing individually.

To date scholars continue to investigate Africa post-colonialism, country level institutional structures and their role in eradicating the binds of colonialism and their role in comparative regional development in Africa. The surge has brought research to diversify as far as elaborating the linkage of certain problems adhered in Africa today to the colonialism era and the law of divide and rule. Even more interesting researching prove that the concept is still very much existent post colonialism.

Today many of our African nations face ‘kleptocratic’ regimes, a rule in which the people in power are out for individual gain. They use their positions to maneuver the system and shift around Africa’s resources and wealth to benefit them. A clear example of this is The Democratic of Congo under Rafael Trujillo, Uganda under Idi Amin and Liberia under Charles Taylor. Though these countries at the time led by the mentioned leaders epitomize kleptocracy they are definitely not the only ones.

The modern day divide and rule has become the back bone of Kleptocracy and enables leaders put in position to develop and provide for civilians, a platform to steal, lead the country to economic and social devastation through atrocious crimes to human kind. Through this law they are able to maintain in weakly-institutionalized societies while simultaneously pursing self-interest driven policies that impoverish societies. A ruler is able to successfully destroy the coalition against him by inter alia bribery, shuffling of cabinet members constantly to ensure those in favor of him, requires cooperation of distinctive social elites who are usually in the financial gain interest aim.

This concept once again threatens the prosperity and future of most African countries. The adverse effect of this type of rule hampers a society and lives it devastated. How do we then ensure that we curb the law of divide and rule before other African leaders are driven by greed and selfishness? In refraining from distortionary policies government institutions must create a platform that allows powerful producer groups to be completely free of politics and any form of coalition with the political institutions. This is common in sub Saharan successful economies that have placed real constraints on the behavior of political elites. Perhaps also what has been lost is the fundamental base in which democracy lied upon. Leaders must understand the concept of ‘for the people by the people’ and policies should be put in place that ensures transparency and declaration of assets by leaders. Independent media houses that act as real collective voices for the public that remain free of political domains create a platform for transparency.