Political Parties and Democratisation in the Southern African Development Community Region: The Weakest Link?

"This report sketches out historical and contemporary trends in respect of the internal functioning of political parties in Southern Africa. There is no doubt that political parties play a key role in the democratization process. Furthermore, political parties are critical institutions upon which democratic governance is supposed to be anchored. This study investigates the internal functioning of parties in the context of the external environment within which these institutions operate. The first research question that we attempt to answer is: To what extent is internal democracy institutionalized in parties to make them agents of and champions in democracy? In essence this report therefore investigates the challenges facing political parties for entrenching and institutionalizing intra-party democracy. The second research question we attempt to answer is: If the majority of the SADC member states have indeed undergone a democratic transition at the national level, have the key institutions such as political parties also imbued a democratic culture and practice in respect of their internal organization and their engagement with governance processes? The third research question: Are political parties the weakest link within the evolving architecture of democratic governance in Southern Africa?"