At the beginning of the 1990s, the commonly practiced National Conference model contributed greatly to talk of a wave of democratization in Africa. It was implemented so successfully in Benin, Togo’s neighboring state, that the country has been described as an exemplary model of democracy. The complete opposite is true of Togo, which has become somewhat of a pariah in the international community.
2. History and characteristics of transformation
One of the main reasons for the negative development in Togo is the army. Parts of the army have played a substantial role in Togo’s domestic politics. The Togolese people increasingly regard the army as an instrument of the old regime because of its militias and composition.
The tensions between the South, with its opposition leanings, and the more government-friendly North came to light during the National Conference sessions and particularly during the subsequent restoration of presidential power. Discriminatory slogans from both sides appearing in the press, as well as in many official and semi-official discourses have established the “North-South cleavage” as a fundamental political rift. The army, which has drawn strong criticism for some of its members’ involvement in the “strategy of tension” initiated by the old regime, could not agree on a position against the regime, as some of its own leaders were closely connected to it.
The North-South divide had already been established by the German colonial period. The North to this day remains a comparatively poorer region from which people emigrate to the South, nursing feelings of discrimination due to considerable under-representation within the elite during independence, based on the comparative number of leading positions in public administration. The South is privileged from the colonial occupation and enjoys preferential access to formal education, the sole ticket to positions in public administration. Gnassingbé Eyadéma’s government had exploited the issue of northern underdevelopment since the end of the 1960s, and had pursued a balance to officially legitimize its inter-regional development policy and the re-orientation of its education policy.
The attempt to establish an ethno-regional support base was to be expected in the ethno-regionalist spirit of divide and rule inherited from the colonial era. This strategy’s indisputable success has led to a significant increase in the number of high-level leaders in the administration who come from the North. The administration’s ethnic preferences has further led to unequal treatment in the agricultural seasonal-work or settlement areas of the Kabyè people in the south and center of the country, some of which have existed since the colonial period. They culminated in pogroms and localized ethnic cleansing. These events have had a greater impact on public opinion than their primarily local significance would have indicated.
The resulting exodus of both the rural population as well as a large number of the Kabyè cadre to a supposed “home region,” which some of them had never seen before, led to social and economic tensions. The migration has particularly had a massive effect on the political ideas for democratization differentiated by ethnic criteria. Neither the National Conference nor the transitional governments have been able to address these problems and differences.
3. Examination of criteria for democracy and a market economy
3.1.1 Political organization
(1) Stateness: The state has an unquestioned monopoly on the use of force throughout the entire country. At the same time, the definition of citizenship and the Togolese nation is essentially unambiguous. Concerns about nationality, mainly used to discredit some opposition members, do not seem to have a lasting effect on public opinion.
Religions have been politicized, not through exclusion but rather through inclusion under the auspices of the state. In relation to this state hegemony, autonomy in the religious sector has only been achieved through a progressive differentiation from politics that focuses on the exclusive authority of the religious hierarchies. The strength and relevance of the denominational education system show one such possibility of an arrangement based on mutual interest between religions and the state. Even Islam, which had previously pushed for a complete separation of Koranic study and the formal education system, has been in the process of establishing a denominational Islamic education system for the last few years.
The central administrative structures that control the state’s monopoly on the use of force exist in principle throughout the entire territory and function relatively efficiently.
(2) Political participation: The net result in participation is more negative than for the monopoly on the use of force. The former totalitarian dictatorship allowed the population only a limited level of political participation.
The corporatist negotiation system has played, and continues to play, an important role. One example of this is the cloth trade (wax cloth). The cloth merchants’ trade association was integrated in the unity party RPT by means of the women’s union, the Union Nationale des Femmes Togolaises (UNFT) and played the role of representative for the tradeswomen, distinguishing itself particularly as a lobby for the large wholesalers. The influence of the “Mercedes Ladies” and their trade association has declined with democratization and the associated plurality of power and more pronounced role of public opinion in political processes.
In contrast to the corporatist process, which meshed relatively well with the dictatorship, the classic democratic process of free and somewhat fair elections has only been practiced in a limited and insufficient manner in Togo. The 1992 constitutional referendum is the sole, and somewhat poor, example of this.
With regard to the recognition of the relevance of elections, the military comprises the most important veto group, most particularly members of the militias that evolved from the military. These could act as a limit on elected officials’ effective power to govern. For example, extra-judicial killings, so-called “death taxis,” attacks, multiple human rights violations, and other actions, during the term of Edem Kodjo (1994-1996) tarnished the overall positive results of his period of office. The extra-judicial activities also called certain related political decisions into question and created a particularly undesirable climate for investment.
Furthermore, these events and the militias were a part of the political debate that was strategically used, even exploited, by the President. The army, which in principle exists solely for external defense has thus acquired veto power on the domestic policy front. This power stems as much from the above-mentioned militias as from its presidentially-appointed leaders, its ethnically selective recruiting practices, and particularly through its exploitation of the domestic political situation during the dictatorship and through the present.
However, the freedom to choose from many parties, or to organize a political party, are two of the lasting key achievements of the 1991 democratization. The previous fragmentation of the party landscape has gradually decreased, due to inactivity, self-imposed disbandment and the merger of many smaller parties, as with the UFC, or more recently with the CPP. However, these organizations continue to be dominated by charismatic and prominent personalities, whose presence is vital, particularly financially, for the preservation of the organization concerned. Accordingly, the organization’s general political or ideological orientation is eclipsed by the preferences and orientation of the individual leaders.
In addition, for several years there has been a lasting boom in NGOs, in contrast to the party landscape, where the diversity has substantially decreased since the early days of democratization. This boom did not arise with democratization, but rather stems from the continual decline since the 1980s in the state’s legitimacy in the eyes of international donors, who regard Togo as a state with a clearly diminished ability to acquire resources from the international system and fulfill its redistributive function. Togo is also a state increasingly reduced to its compulsory and repressive functions, at least in its formal dimension, by the progressive paternalism of the Bretton Woods institutions. The NGOs thus compensate somewhat for the state’s retreat and its reduced capacity for extraversion. As a result, a private education sector has developed where quantitative growth is not always accompanied by qualitative improvement, as has a private or communal healthcare sector—dispensaries, hospitals, etc.—that serves either a wealthy clientele or aims to provide basic care for neglected segments of the population.
Although these NGOs mimic the differentiation between a formal facade and a “rhizomatous” structure on the inside, they represent institutions in which a form of local and regional participation in particular is often practiced. The diverse human rights associations comprise a specific branch of this sector: in a sector that carries both high political and personal risks, the commitment of its members and leaders and their dynamic drive are a sign of a critical civic attitude. For example, their activism for democracy made it possible to obtain results from the June 2003 presidential elections that were seemingly more reliable than the official political numbers. The Conseil national de surveillance des élections, (CONEL) formed by the Concertation Nationale de la Société Civile, a union of civil society organizations, provided the results.
Togolese political participation based on sufficient and sophisticated information from the mass media must be described separately by region. While it is relatively unproblematic for citizens to express opinions under normal conditions without the risk of repression by security forces in the capital city of Lomé and in the southern regions of the country in general, it is far more problematic, and certainly riskier in Kara and in most northern regions. Activity by a little known and oft-underestimated opposition has been observed in some areas of the Kabyè regions, especially where local issues are concerned.
The North-South cleavage is even more pronounced in the publication, distribution and production of independent, private press items. Publication and production generally occur in Lomé publishing houses. With the notable exception of Sokodé, distribution is concentrated in Lomé, its surrounding areas, and, with certain restrictions, the southern region of the country up to the latitude of Atakapamé. In the country’s remaining regions, the security services hinder a national presence of private media by imprisoning critical journalists or arbitrarily taking them into custody. Private newspapers and radio stations are also subject to economic restrictions that are often dependent upon the financial support of several parties.
A similar situation exists for the audio-visual media. Foreign radio and television stations have a somewhat more comfortable situation, because restriction of their activities always provokes international protests. “Radio Maria” is the only private radio station with a national program and broadcast. This station broadcasts a diverse and sophisticated program in several languages, enabled by the influence and position of the Togolese Catholic Church—along with the support of the Vatican—to provide discriminating and critical reporting.
Overall, the situation has improved in comparison to the pre-1991 totalitarian dictatorship, but freedom of the press and freedom of speech have not yet been fully established.
(3) Rule of law: The executive branch holds a dominant position with regard to the rule of law and the separation of powers. Although a formal separation of powers does exist, and the legislative and judicial branches are independent, the executive branch has secured such a prominent position for itself that it has practically “colonized” the other branches. Institutional resistance to this colonization is only evident in a very limited form in the judicial branch, and is only indirectly possible, if at all, in a parliament that consists almost solely of members of the former unity party and associated parties.
The institutionally separate judiciary is characterized by a high level of professionalism of its high officials, but is relatively inefficient. Its rulings are subject to the executive branch’s hegemony and are severely limited by several functional flaws, most notably limited territorial penetration, often insufficient and outdated equipment and some corruption.
Consequently, suspicions of abuse of authority or corruption are pursued politically rather than legally, if at all. The question of accountability only surfaces in political terms when, for example, corrupt members of parliament threaten to become a burden to the government because of constant public criticism (and criticism from “Radio-Trottoir”) or they attract too much attention with their critical statements. The strategies developed to address this are authoritarian in general and are characterized by sanctions, some of them draconian. However, the government is growing increasingly aware that petty corruption threatens the institutions’ efficiency and causes a creeping decline in the state’s legitimacy.
As a result, the executive branch has a very selective concept of protecting civil liberties such as human rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom from discrimination. It has also avoided addressing the issue of immunity for human rights violations during both the transition period, as well as under the dictatorship. Criticism and departures from within their own ranks are severely punished and considered high treason, in line with the polarizing “politics of survival” that characterizes this regime.
3.1.2 Patterns of political behavior and attitudes
(1) Institutional stability: The stability of democratic institutions is threatened by a lack of efficiency, and reduced even further by corruption. In addition, it is undermined by the reluctance of the top level of government, and the opposition, to some extent, to recognize and accept the adversarial democratic game and its processes. According to concurrent views of many observers of the 1998 presidential election, a majority of army members seem to have voted for the opposition. However, the army still seems to hold a veto, or at least the troops and militias that are personally connected to the head of state, or who fear a public debate of their role in the transition period, appear to hold such a veto.
The efficiency of the institutions is limited not only by the often problematic, if not doubtful legitimacy of their leadership, regardless of the quality and the individual leaders’ qualifications. It is also hindered also by their diminished leeway for decision-making—often restricted by structural adjustment programs since at least the early 1980s—as well as suspicions of corruption and chronic underfunding.
(2) Political and social integration: Two dominant modes of corporatist negotiation systems existed under the dictatorship for involving the political public in political decision-making processes, or integrating them in further social transformation. The first was a form of lobbyism characterized by a trade-off of public demonstrations of loyalty in exchange for consideration of interests. Second, many groups—ethno-regional networks, solidarity or patronage networks within a large number of “homeland associations” (associations de ressortissants), village development associations, Christian groups, task forces, parents’ associations, and others—all comprise constituencies that legitimize their representatives in relation to and within the central unity party. This legitimacy enables their interests to be represented accordingly in the periphery.
New modes of integration and related organizations have arisen since 1991. Due to a lack of organizational structures for the grass roots, ethnic and ethno-regional groups and associations have begun to form within the parties. Until the most recent elections, the parties had been organized and differentiated along the traditional North-South divide, from which all sides formally distance themselves in speeches and programs.
The prestige and centrality of the individual party leaders substantially influences the power base of many parties. Tendencies to personalize influence and political preferences are further increased by the as yet unrealized decentralization (or déconcentration) and the dominant and unquestioned French political model of the “one and indivisible” republic. Without decentralization, political arenas do not yet exist where ethnic or ethno-regional ties, and possibly local interests, could form an alternative to national politics, in a regional government, for example. However, the results of the elections in June 2003 show that the party system—by no means unchanging or a simple outgrowth of social disparities—in fact recognizes its own dynamics and the currently unpredictable social consequences.
What the official results—albeit most probably based on “political” numbers—seem to show is that government leaders are unable to adjust to this new situation and predict the political consequences. They have instead chosen to reproduce a familiar situation with the official numbers that is also probably more advantageous for their legitimacy strategy. This allows them to retain their position as the representative of citizens in the North and their interests, as well as maintaining the RPT’s position as the only party with a widespread and truly national constituency.
The other interest groups, such as employers’ associations and unions, are also subject to the political polarization of the government and opposition, and are partially blocked by their translation into ethno-regional terms.
There are no quantitative measures of the level of public support for democracy in Togo. The election results of the comparatively free ballots (see “political and social integration” above) confirm the political orientation as pro-democracy, as did widespread calls to boycott elections that were neither fair nor free. The opposite is true for the open result process. In particular, the very high 75 % voter turnout for the 1992 constitutional referendum, which approved the liberal Constitution of the Fourth Republic (in force since December 14, 1992), with a massive approval rate of 96 %, points to extensive public support for democracy.
3.2 Market economy
3.2.1 Socioeconomic level of development
The HPI-1 rate of 37.9 % and a percentage of almost one third of the population living below the national poverty level both point to a level of socioeconomic development that in no way allows sufficient freedom of choice. This situation is a result of the economic crisis dating back at least to the early 1980s, the “external crisis” years, which escalated further in the 1990s.
Although this escalation has external dimensions—most notably the collapse of world market prices for products such as coffee, cocoa and phosphates—its roots decidedly lie in the internal and political problems of unrest based on a democratization that is incomplete and has actually been flagging since 1991-1994. This decline has seen a nine-month general strike in 1992-1993 which contributed to a more than 20 % drop in GNP within two years, and a conservative restoration without any real prospect of international recognition. The restoration was characterized by repeatedly rigged elections, leading to a hardening in domestic politics and a mounting loss of legitimacy for political office holders.
Furthermore, the “politics of survival” that draws the political lines defining government action has led to the neglect of necessary long-term investments. Productivity in phosphate mining is declining, due to insufficient maintenance of the infrastructure and a lack of urgently needed modernization of the machinery. The port has improved by comparison: this central source of income for the state and the presidency, which plays a big part in preserving Togo’s position as a “smuggler state,” seems to be functioning once again. However, most state-owned companies and companies already privatized or in the privatization process are have massive investment shortfalls.
Farmers in the cash-crop producing regions are supplementing the production of staples to the detriment of the cash-crop cultures because of continually worsening trade terms and a lack of investment in productivity. In the cotton-producing regions, poor advice and mismanagement by the Société Togolaise du Coton (SOTOCO) has further exacerbated a situation similar to that in the coffee, cocoa and sugar cane producing regions. These problems also have alarming environmental consequences including soil leaching, contamination of the surface and ground water by fertilizers and pesticides, and health risks for the affected population.
Sources of household incomes in the cities have diversified at the same rate as the direct or indirect income from civil service has declined. The 50 % devaluation of the CFA franc in 1994 without an appropriate salary adjustment, endemic salary arrears of up to eight to ten months, and an increasingly precarious economic situation within households have all led to a massive development of urban subsistence cultures. This makes it clear that social exclusion and a precarious everyday existence are no longer an ancillary phenomenon, and that a large segment, if not a majority, of the population is probably affected.
3.2.2 Market and Competition
Free-market competition dominates the most innovative and important sector of the economy for the everyday lives of citizens: the informal sector. This female-dominated sector is certainly regulated, albeit minimally, by such instruments as market regulations (price fixing). Halfway between the formal and informal sectors lie a few state-regulated trades requiring an apprenticeship, such as mechanic, barber/hairdresser and tailor/seamstress, that form the basis of an exceptionally creative service sector.
The fundamental conditions are also present for a flourishing formal capitalist sector. These conditions include relative stability and international convertibility of the currency—unlimited throughout the Franc Zone, but beyond that only through the Parisian foreign exchange market—as well as the very liberal economic policy in place since the early 1980s. Public policy has allowed the free disposition and repatriation of profits, and freedom of trade. The privatization of state-owned and parastatal enterprises has been tackled, but not yet fully completed, in some cases clearly for political reasons.
The Franc Zone and a free trade zone, which has been extended to cover the entire country, also attract foreign direct investment, which is made easier by a relatively well functioning banking sector, and are thereby prospering. However, there are still considerable problems in environmental protection and protection of social security. For example, the regulation of working conditions is only rudimentary. Ecobank is one of the most successful private banks in the region and now has branches in member states of the West African Monetary Union, (UMOA) or rather, in most countries in the region.
Overall, the banking system and capital market are highly differentiated and orientated toward international standards, but they have nonetheless been considerably affected by the crisis and the shrinking domestic economy. Privatizations have become necessary, and are still incomplete in the cases of the BTCI and UTB; there have been actions ranging from restructuring all the way to bankruptcy, affecting, for example, parts of the Banque InterAfricaine. But banking supervision is certainly insufficient, leading to repeated scandals and bankruptcies among inner-Togolese savings banks and small banks. Banks are paying more attention to the micro-credit system, although these credit systems are usually organized within the realm of tontines, associations de ressortissants, and other cooperatives or even development cooperation projects.
Most former state-owned enterprises have been privatized, or are in the process of being sold. However, progress is flagging because of organizational weaknesses within most of the enterprises. For the most part, however, during their transformation into corporations, the state remained the majority shareholder or retained some control, either through a blocking minority or a pro-government shareholder. Overall, Togo has enjoyed widely deregulated foreign trade for years. This has consolidated the country’s reputation as a smuggler state, which has profited from the slower pace of deregulation and the protectionism of neighboring states, a tradition that Togo has, incidentally, seemed to cultivate since the German colonial era.
3.2.3 Stability of currency and prices
The central bank’s independence is guaranteed by Togo’s membership in the UMOA, i.e. the CFA Zone. Close ties in both financial and monetary policy to the former colonial metropolis guarantee a stable repayment parity to the French franc (to the euro since 2001) and international convertibility through the Parisian foreign exchange market, as well as guarantees for the currency in French francs through the French treasury. Their central bank, the BCEAO, has gained considerable political power and autonomy in relation to the member states, which are represented in the finance ministers’ conference, because of the stabilizing function of the CFA franc and the close dependence on and support from French institutions.
Long-standing integration in the monetary and fiscal policy of the CFA Zone, more than 20 years of ties to the World Bank and the IMF, and the presence of many Togolese experts on committees and as employees of international financial institutions have all often contributed to a basically solid, sometimes innovative fiscal and economic policy, with sometimes unpopular measures. Some resources are siphoned off directly at the source, e.g., at the harbor, and/or before registration with the tax authorities, and usually placed at the disposal of the president. As these practices, long condemned by the opposition, suggest, it seems that every government finds itself in a position of institutional competition with the president because of individual institutional interests and political objectives. Meanwhile, the president’s demands and claims in the current crisis situation are becoming a burden for any somewhat autonomous government.
3.2.4 Private property
In general, property rights and private entrepreneurship have a long tradition, particularly in Lomé, that can be traced back at least to the beginning of the 19th century. Furthermore, promoting private entrepreneurship and protecting private property were both an ideological resource for Togo’s foreign policy during the Cold War, as well as maxims of the deregulation and antitrust policies introduced since cooperation with the IMF and World Bank intensified in the early 1980s.
Therefore, the constitutional enforcement of property rights is less problematic than the enforcement of employee rights. Furthermore, the entwining of the economy and politics represents not only a limit to competition, but also makes politically insubordinate actions a business risk. Criticism of the government becomes synonymous with economic risk; or, to put it another way, keeping quiet becomes a principle of economic survival.
Private enterprise forms the backbone of the national economy. Exceptions include the remaining state-owned and semi-public enterprises that are being privatized, as well as state-tolerated dense market concentration of a few larger enterprises. Judged by official numbers, state-owned enterprises, or those in which the state is the majority shareholder still play a special role.
However, the privatization recommended by the Bretton Woods institutions has paradoxical political effects. Instead of further separating the economy from politics, these measures have simplified or informalized political influence, especially on large enterprises. The penetration of political influence into larger businesses has been simplified because it is now sufficient to be able to exercise influence over individuals and political networks.
3.2.5 Welfare regime
Institutions for cushioning social risks do exist, but they are strictly segmented territorially, as well as by class and area. A systematic attempt at poverty reduction is hardly possible without assistance and depends strongly upon development cooperation—the complete or partial suspension of which had significant direct and indirect consequences on the status of disadvantaged segments of the population.
A certain level of social security is organized through familial connections, because the public system, when functioning, only serves paying contributors in the formal sector. Only familial solidarity is left for the rest of the population, the vast majority, which is growing less stable in times of crisis. Furthermore, institutions such as the Caisse Nationale de Sécurité Sociale (CNSS) as well as everything from hospitals to dispensaries—which compose a relatively well-functioning, if weak, infrastructure—suffer from massive underfunding, lack of resources and insufficient reforms. These reforms could have put them in a position to respond to the escalating economic, political and social crisis of the last few years. An astonishing illustration of this issue is the increase of poverty among the elderly and the complete neglect of the elderly, which is becoming evident in the cities, and increasingly in rural areas.
Under the cumulative pressure of the economic crisis and the adjustment programs from the Bretton Woods institutions, healthcare and education have become substantial, if not unbearable, household cost factors. For many, the last ray of hope comes from ethno-regional solidarities and patronage networks; in short, the moral obligations, arising from whatever source, that have intensified in recent years.
Substantial disparities within the population must be noted regarding equality of opportunity. Shrinking social mobility, which previously existed primarily through education but has declined considerably in recent years, has intensified this heterogeneity. A certain level of elite change was retained for political reasons for the cadre from the North after 1982-1983, particularly for those from the Kabyè region. However, the intensified recruiting and its essentially complete halt within the realm of the SAP has largely interrupted the traditional meritocratic openness of the country’s elite.
The more or less complete end of recruiting in civil service since the end of the 1980s, and the concurrent rise in education costs seem to have led to a strong devaluation of education, almost to the point of its rejection. This has especially affected the female population because household activities often seem more useful to the parents than the hypothetical benefits of education.
GDP growth has been negative for several years. Except for a short period from 1995 to 1997, national debt has been paid only partially, if at all. The net income of the state budget has been negative in recent years. In 2000 there was a further substantial decline in state income of 7.6 % compared with the previous year. The state budget deficit currently equals 11.6 % of GDP, as compared with 8.9 % in 1999.
Furthermore, considerable outstanding wage arrears for civil servants have accumulated since 1992-1993, and, to a much more limited extent, in the private sector as well. Growing domestic indebtedness—payment arrears in the amount of 40 billion CFA francs—along with the foreign trade and balance of payment debts (deficit increase of 8.2 % in 2000) indicate both the massive impact of the suspension or reduction of development cooperation, as well as clearly negative economic trends, especially in the formal sector.
Environmental sustainability is observed only in isolated instances and is only weakly anchored in society, although Togo has signed numerous international agreements. The dictatorship emphasized nature conservation in the form of expanding parks, wildlife and nature reserves. Their creation occurred in an authoritarian manner, with no consideration of the humanitarian and social interests of the local population, who in some cases were driven from their ancestral homelands. These regions were resettled following the end of the dictatorship and the temporary collapse of state authority, which led to a tremendous destruction of the fauna stocks in particular.
Moreover, since the early 1990s, tropical timber, especially teak, has been cleared illegally, or at least without reforestation. This has occurred partially under the protection or at least the blind eye of local and national politicians. However, the escalating negative ecological consequences of the over-exploitation of nature, such as erosion, changes in the rainy season and declining rainfall, have led to an increased environmental consciousness, albeit one that loses importance when compared to the need to secure an income. This is further undermined by the weak position of concerned local authorities in relation to national authorities and large international corporations.
Waste and environmental pollution have become an everyday issue for the urban population, particularly in Lomé. Without a sewage system, the city’s waste and sewage is disposed of either in dry wells, which contaminate the ground water, or is poured directly and untreated into the lagoon, which then becomes sandy and salinated, and poses a bacteriological risk to inhabitants.
Formal education was and continues to be regarded as one of the most important familial goals and an urgent state priority since the French colonial period. From the time of its independence through the early 1980s, Togo had one of the highest school registration rates. Compared with a period of regular growth from 1948 to 1973 and particularly from 1974 to 1980, the education sector has experienced an ongoing, significant crisis: Expenditures declined from 4.9 % of GDP in 1985-1987 to 4.5 % in 1995-1997.
The most striking phenomenon in the Togolese education system is the déscolarisation occurring since the early 1980s. Ignored at first by the administration, this rejection of schooling provoked a government response because of its generalized nature. These measures only temporarily stopped a phenomenon that seems to hinge upon the commercial market and prospects in the formal sector for families and students. Along with these low registration rates came a marked decline in apprenticeship standards, an increase in selectivity and a decline in the provisioning of the school system. The quality of the private school system is very inconsistent and requires state regulation, which, unfortunately, is often insufficiently implemented.
However, the state invests one quarter of education spending in the small population of university students, further intensifying the existing inequality of education funding. For Togo, the Université du Bénin (today: Université de Lomé) was an academic institution that enjoyed a good to excellent reputation in West Africa until the mid-1990s. However, study and teaching conditions have deteriorated substantially since the beginning of the 1990s.
(1) Democracy: The conditions regarding political participation and the rule of law have worsened markedly in individual areas. The 1996 parliamentary elections, the confiscation of election results from the 1998 presidential election and the 1999 and 2002 parliamentary elections, and, finally, the 2003 presidential elections and their “political” results, all signify a clear reversal of progress compared with the 1994 elections, and the 1992 constitutional referendum. They certainly fall short of the demands from the opposition as well as multilateral and bilateral development cooperation partners.
There has been a noteworthy escalation of conservative restoration in the last three years since limits were imposed upon press freedom by the Press Code Reform of 2000 (lese-majesté as an offence), justifying the term post-dictature. However, a complete dissolution of these freedoms and a return to the former totalitarian state seems unlikely in view of Togo’s situation and international public opinion.
With the Accord-Cadre de Lomé, or Lomé Framework Agreement, the recognition and acceptance of an opposition seems at least to have succeeded long-term. The consolidation of certain achievements of democratization has apparently succeeded, at least in individual areas, such as recognition of the function of a prime minister, consultation of parliament, legal—and no longer solely authoritarian-police state—prosecution of criminal and politically relevant offences, such as violations of the Press Code. However, intimidation and prosecution of opposition party members, especially the UFC, and critical journalists, especially in the interior of the country, continues to be practiced, along with an increase in arbitrary arrests and torture since the 2003 election. Such occurrences seem to have lessened in frequency since the Accord-Cadre was signed, in prisons and army barracks, and they have been reported regularly in the private press, as well as in various Amnesty International reports.
A certain level of institutional stabilization must be noted, but it is repeatedly undermined by the precarious nature of the decision-making power of relevant government authorities and the continued partial existence of police-state methods.
(2) Market economy: The level of socioeconomic development as measured by the HDI has improved slightly, mirroring a slight improvement in and stabilization of the political and economic climate. This semblance of stability has been jeopardized following the constitutional and electoral changes of December 27, 2002 and the problematic election of June 1, 2003, even more so as the uncertainty over political prospects has grown once again.
Togo’s macroeconomic situation seems to depend considerably on the political situation. Further, the institutional and international conditions for a market economy have scarcely changed. The institutional conditions include the free export of capital and profits, deregulation of trade, and the implementation—to date only partial—of the Ohada. The most important international conditions are the decrease or suspension of development cooperation, a worsening of the terms of trade for Togolese exports on the world market. Still, a minimum of stability and political prospects seem to have brought about a slight economic recovery. During 2000 and 2001, there was a slight increase in GDP from $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion, as well as an increase in exports and imports.
However, two central elements of Togo’s economic situation must still be emphasized. First, despite deregulation and privatization, the civil service sector remains a central element of the national economy, both in regard to investments and consumption. The unpaid back wages and salaries have negative effects far beyond the immediate population of civil servants. Second, Togo’s position as the biggest smuggler state in the region crucially depends upon the condition of its central infrastructure: As soon as the harbor was modernized and functioning again, it, the state and the president profited from the Ivorian crisis, that is, the decrease in activity at the harbor in Abidjan, as well as from higher import duties and road tolls at the harbor in Tema, Ghana.
5. Evaluation of transformation management
5.1 Level of difficulty
Togo’s gross national product amounts to $1.3 billion; that is, $270 per capita, according to 2001 data. Togo’s average per capita income is far lower even than the $430 of other “low income countries,” and the $470 of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa. Per capita GDP has declined by 1 % per year on average since 1980, the year with the highest income level to date. Despite a high general education level by West African standards, Togo’s UN Education Index rating is also very low at 0.59 for the year 2000. The adult illiteracy rate is 42.9 %, and is especially high among the rural population and in the country’s interior.
Although far from the monolithic proportions described in government discourse, these disparities are characterized by internal tensions. Transformation management becomes even more difficult when differences in traumatic experiences from the democratization process are taken into account.
Overall, an evaluation of the development and transformation management must take into account that a certain level of deregulation has taken place in the political, and especially in the economic life of the country, compared with the 1980s and 1990-1994. This deregulation points to the formal side of the state; that is, to the oft-criticized facade. This is certainly only the visible, public portion of the political process; the invisible and non-public dimension is handled within the realm of contact networks.
5.2 Reliable pursuit of goals
The special relevance of “network management” is reflected in the evaluation of the strategic competence of governments. In contrast to a strong head of state with network management experience, the government is particularly dependent upon the prime minister and his position in the network. As head of the government, he can only play a central role if the effects and goals of transformation can be knowledgably assessed not only on the public side, but also on the “rhizomatous” side of political processes as well.
The doubling of the state, in which the networks—with the presidency in the central position—function as inter-sector coordinators, becomes clear at the ministerial level. Ministers who represent the formal and public side of the state and were selected because of their renown, their qualifications, or often also because of a public demonstration of loyalty and their origins, have a substantially shorter term of office than their chiefs of staff or general secretaries. The latter, less present in the public eye and integrated into the leading authority of the party, are often members of associations de ressortissants, specific clubs of so-called work groups, or even from specific religious or esoteric associations—for example, the Rosicrucians or some Masonic lodges. They act as important nodes in this network, determining the diffused form of power in the Etat-rhizôme.
In view of Togo’s dramatic financial and economic situation and the “politics of survival” that determines the strategic orientation of the current government, the usual tradeoffs between redistribution and transformation are no longer possible. This is clearly indicated by the thoroughly negative subjective indicators of governance as well as Togo’s tie for last place, with Pakistan, in Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report 2003.
When faced with this dilemma—where political and economic reform is synonymous with loss of power—the government, particularly the presidency, concentrates on extraversion strategies. The extension of the free trade zone to cover the entire territory, and the scarcely veiled advertising of Togo as a West African smuggler state, have made it possible to consolidate Togo’s position in the region, attract a certain amount of foreign direct investment and initiate a small upturn in certain sectors such as telecommunications and banking. However, hopes for an overall economic recovery in parallel with political confidence in the future remain low.
5.3 Effective use of resources
The state administrative staff is generally inefficient. The economic crisis that has lasted for more than 20 years—intensified by a political crisis that has lasted for more than 12 years—has led to a limited offering of state benefits, which are then provided by a small staff that is poorly paid, when not actually owed back wages. In view of the multilateral and bilateral conditions introduced in the beginning of the 1980s, protected formal recruiting processes were only followed until 1988. Hardly any of the appointments made afterwards were free of political influence.
As with the ineffective use of personnel resources, the uncertain political situation and the state’s reduced managerial capacities have, for the most part, hindered efficient and strategic use of budget resources. The transparency of the use of public funds suffers likewise from a lack of independent auditing (the audit institution established years ago is still not yet operational) and shady financing for the presidency.
Even though the administrative organization is for the most part clearly structured and follows a hierarchy, two decisive factors have limited its ability to function. On one hand, professional and effective leadership is limited by chronic underfunding and insufficient resources; on the other hand, such leadership is confronted with the parallel structure of the Etat-rhizôme, in which networks take on the function of problem-oriented and political objective-oriented coordination. Previous attempts at administrative reform and modernization foundered on these political-organizational limitations and the economic hindrances outlined above.
There is a further differentiation regarding the administration of the state budget. On one hand, the state budget is directed by the administration and is at the government’s disposal; on the other hand, the presidency, having no set budget of its own, maintains a tradition of patrimonial administration over the state budget. Powers are rebalanced repeatedly as dictated by the primacy of the “politics of survival,” although up to now the president has always retained the upper hand in any conflict.
The customary waste of public funds as a strategy of establishing legitimacy from “upstairs,” used in many motions of support, as well as other prestige awards leads to a similar waste from “downstairs” through broadening corruption at all administrative levels.
Consequently, the battle against corruption—this visible symptom of state shortcomings—remains inefficient. The media exposure of the issue since Kodjo’s government (2000-2002) probably has more to do with political exploitation than a serious intent to battle a phenomenon that increasingly shapes the political and administrative culture and owes its existence to the structure of the political system and the dominance of the Etat-rhizôme. In the same way, the foreseeable limitation on the presidency’s patrimonial budgetary control also explains why the audit institution is still not operative.
Moreover, the repeatedly cited cultural resources of familial or ethnic solidarities, social and political commitment, and social capital in general, are seldom mobilized by the political elite, let alone by the current government, for reform programs. If nothing else, the social capital can often provide assistance in everyday life.
5.4 Governance capability
The institutional and private innovation and learning capacity of both the political elite and the population is obvious. The “politics of survival” has enabled a conservative restoration while retaining a formal democratic facade through the growing informalization of Togo’s international economic relations as well as the polarization of political life in ethno-regional terms and the strategic use of force.
Although the government’s political authority is never questioned in principle, its political and managerial capabilities, which were traditionally concentrated in the ministries of economy and planning, are nevertheless substantially compromised. This is due on one hand to the economic crisis and the resulting decline in state income, and on the other hand to the conditions set by the Bretton Woods institutions and the hegemony of “network politics” over formal processes.
When the various RPT governments have attempted reforms, they have concentrated almost exclusively on the economic sector and neglected democratization and human rights; that is, they have used legal formalism to legitimize the controversial regime. The governments in which the opposition participated also made grave political and strategic errors in that they either relied on this legal formalism above oppositional unity—as with the factional coalition government of 1994-1996—or neglected to include the army in the reform process.
The fragmented opposition, which has not yet been able to run a unified campaign against a president considered discredited by a majority of the population, poses a stark contrast to the supposed monolith of the RPT. The RPT has preserved its unity, at least externally, which consists of its relatively clear conservative or somewhat reactionary profile, an apparently unquestioned leader, and the clear objective of remaining in power.
This certainly amplified the reverberations of an intra-party reform movement that had first emerged publicly at the end of March. The official dispatching and subsequent publishing of a self-critical letter of protest, and the admissions of guilt and calls for political reform it contained led to the expulsion and denunciation of the author—Dahuku Pere, the former RPT minister and head of parliament—followed by a purge within the party and the civil service. Agbéyomé Kodjo, the acting prime minister up to that point, refused to sign a defamatory letter drafted by the central party committee and declared his resignation, going into exile.
Togo’s political polarization between a government fixed upon remaining in power and an opposition almost devoid of a social program with hopes of hoping to dissolve the former but unable to formulate a unified strategic platform, has further intensified the dependency of the party system and social cleavages. The North-South differentiationtherefore presents itself as the dominant divide in Togo’s political system.
The reciprocal socialization of the Togolese elite in joint educational institutions during the colonial era and at the beginning of the post-colonial era transcended this divide, as within relevant “old boys” networks, for example. However, educational expansion, and particularly the establishment of secondary schools throughout the entire territory, (see “Level of Difficulty,” above) pulled the social rug out from under such reciprocal socialization of the elite and the population.
The identity-defining project of authenticité (an essentialist political ideology) has supplemented the ethno-regionalist discourse of French colonial administration with an overarching cult of leadership. Growing questioning of this policy stemming from the economic crisis of the 1980s and the lasting political crisis of democratic transition since 1991 has once again made the problem of eliminating this divide the order of the day. To date, French-influenced interpretation of constitutional conditions for the unity of the state—the principle of the republic as “one and indivisible”—has made it impossible to formally and officially formulate such a consensus because it would call into question the unitary character of the state. Thus the integration of the elite and removal of the associated divide cannot take place by a constitutional consensus or other formal arrangement.
The potential of community orientation is demonstrated by the commitment and solidarity shown by the elite, among others, to their village d'origine. This applies to extended families as well as to the Togolese in diaspora toward their families and friends in Togo. The state must make a great effort to encourage this sense of community, especially when it cannot provide the necessary benefits itself. It could only incorporate this sense of community to a very limited degree and only on an informal basis, without laying a foundation for building a viable national consensus.
The current lack of prosecution for crimes committed during and after 1991, which has yet to be successfully addressed either politically or legally, continues to hinder the building of this consensus, or a viable conflict structure enabling compromise.
5.6 International cooperation
The sole fundamental consensus that exists above any political divide is the conviction that a sustainable resumption of efforts toward democracy or economic growth is only possible with the support of bilateral and multilateral cooperation partners.
Pressure on the government has increased since the failure of the most promising negotiations to date of the Comité Paritaire de Suivi under the moderation of four diplomats representing Germany, France, the EU and the Francophone countries within the framework of the Accord-Cadre de Lomé. The lack of urgency in responding can likely be attributed to foreign policy successes such as the OAU presidency in 2000, and mediation in the Côte d'Ivoire conflict in 2002-2003. These have given the regime an air of legitimacy, a legitimacy that carries the approval of France—whose role in promoting Togo’s democratization is far from glorious—and particularly of a segment of French conservatives.
The erosion of a few conditions of the 1992 referendum—which had established a liberal constitution by a large majority vote—first affected constitutional reality, and later the text itself. Limits on the presidential mandate were removed, controls on press freedom were tightened, voting rights were changed, greater restrictions were placed on the Independent National Election Committee.
However, the conservative restoration that followed the years of uncertainty and the general strike cannot be described as a simple regression to the previous totalitarian regime. It points rather to a captation de la transition démocratique that was also achieved to some extent by the regimes in Kinshasa under Mobutu, in Brazzaville, Yaoundé or Bangui. It is rather a matter of an evolution toward a more or less non-liberal regime with a liberal democratic facade. The efficiency level of such a regime is rather low. It seems incapable of halting, to quote a former high representative of the regime, “the decline of the state’s authority, the financial and economic decay, the continued patrimonial and opaque administration of the state budget.”
Therefore, the regime’s political strategy has led to a long-term arrangement in a situation of long transitions and short stabilities—a new type of “regime of exception” that skirts the rules as a rule. The continual search for legitimacy in both foreign and domestic politics certainly weakens the resulting informalization, so a democratic façade is maintained that imposes political restrictions while retaining the achievements of the democratization phase.
The political—and for the majority of the relatively well-educated youth, the personal—lack of prospects under a government that apparently refuses to give up power, contrasted with a continually bickering coalition of heterogeneous opposition parties, gives many participants the impression that negotiated reforms are scarcely possible. An increasing number of opposition politicians seem to share this pessimistic diagnosis since the end of international moderation.