Africa is well known for the production of national liberation movements (NLMs), stemming from a history of exploitation, colonisation and slavery. NLMs are generally characterised by a struggle carried out by or in the name of suppressed people for political, social, cultural, economic, territorial liberation and decolonisation. Dozens of NLMs have ascended to state power in Africa following a successful violent popular struggle either as an outright military victory or a negotiated settlement. 

National Liberation Movements as Government in Africa analyses the performance of NLMs after they gain state power. The book tracks the initial promises and guiding principles of NLMs against their actual record in achieving socio-economic development goals such as peace, stability, state building and democratisation. The book explores the various different struggles for liberation, whether against European colonialism, white minority rule, neighbouring countries, or for internal reform or regime change. Bringing together case studies from Somalia, Somaliland, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Algeria, the book builds a comprehensive analysis of the challenges NLMs face when ascending to state power, and why so many ultimately end in failure.

This is an ideal resource for scholars, policy makers and students with an interest in African development, politics, and security studies.

part I|40 pages

Conceptualisation and performance of liberation movements-cum-governments

chapter 1|14 pages


Understanding national liberation movements

part II|64 pages

Liberation struggles against European colonisation

chapter 5|15 pages

From former liberation movement to four decades in government

The maintenance of the Frelimo state

chapter 6|17 pages

From Cabral’s liberation movement to power struggle and ideological erosion

The decline of PAIGC in Guinea-Bissau

chapter 7|16 pages

From anticolonial liberation movement to ruling party

The FLN in Algeria

part III|36 pages

Liberation struggles against white minority rule

chapter 8|15 pages

The African National Congress

From liberation movement to neoliberal state manager

chapter 9|19 pages

ZANU-PF in power in Zimbabwe, 1980–2013

Towards explaining why former liberation movements fail as governments

part IV|46 pages

Liberation struggles against annexation by neighbouring countries

chapter 10|15 pages

Struggle mentality versus democracy

The case of SWAPO of Namibia 1

part V|62 pages

Liberation struggles for reform (regime change)

chapter 13|14 pages

Liberation movements turned governments

The Ugandan experience

chapter 14|15 pages


The quest for transformation under EPRDF

chapter 15|15 pages

Liberation struggle for regime change

Somaliland’s transition from conflict to civilian government

chapter 16|16 pages

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

The birth and breakdown of Somali Armed movements, 1976–99