The Relationship between Political Dynamism and Implementation of Foreign Policy in African Countries.
Bambo, Bilali Charles
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Political dynamism is critical in foreign policy enactment in any country in the world, including Africa. Most countries have tried to implement its foreign policy differently without looking at political dynamism which is instrumental in the orientation of foreign policy of any given country. However, the concept of political dynamism has been viewed with different lenses by different scholars, but with the common understanding that “dynamism” implies application of different perspectives to evaluate existing or potential political situation. The study examined the relationship between political dynamism and implementation of foreign policy in African countries. Specifically, the study focused on the influence of political system, interest groups, leadership traits, and public opinion on implementation of foreign policy in Africa. The study was anchored on rational choice theory, advocacy coalition framework theory, and punctuated equilibrium theory. It adopted descriptive research design and involved a target population of 195 individuals comprising of diplomats, political parties, ministry of foreign affairs and civil society. Sampling was carried out using stratified sampling technique where 100 respondents were selected. Collection of primary data was carried out using a structured questionnaire where collected data was analyzed using descriptive and inferential methods. Analyzed data was presented using frequency distribution tables, figures and narratives. The findings revealed that political system significantly influenced policy making processes and implementation. Countries with stronger and stable political system in Africa tended to have vibrant foreign policy debates without fear of losing favour in the international community. However, challenges such as mega corruption and neocolonialism in most African states continue to affect foreign policy direction. Interest groups have continued to play a central role in petitioning governments of the day to implement certain policy documents favourable to the masses as opposed to the ruling class. But, there is the question of corruption and suppression of outdated political culture which were likely to ruin foreign policy implementation of a country. Leaders with certain characteristics, such as dictatorial tendencies, corruption mentality, emotional instability, and human rights abuse records tend to oversee or favour subjective foreign policy orientations. Leaders with condensing attitude, limited emotional intelligence, questionable integrity, and tough-headedness tend to pursue narrow and self-serving foreign policy directions at the expense of their citizens. Public opinion continues to play a central role in swaying views and influencing key decisions of political parties, political systems, and top leadership of the country, hence shaping their foreign policy direction. Inferential statistics also indicated that each of the four independent variables significantly and positively influenced foreign policy implementation in African countries. A number of recommendations were made, including for the African countries to allow alternative voices in political system for robust policy debates and implementation. Interest groups should also be allowed by the government of the day to operate freely so that they can participate in foreign policy implementation in an objective manner. Despite varied leadership traits in all leaders, foreign policy implementation should involve objective processes devoid of personal influences. Public opinion should be allowed to proactively shape foreign policy formulation and implementation in Africa.