The Need for Ideological-Based Political Parties in Sub-Saharan Africa. Case Study the MPLA and UNITA of Angola


Issau Agostinho


The political movements in Africa have gone through a significant transformation throughout decades. When the first movements started in the Sub-Saharan region in earlier decades of the 20th century, they would just act as cultural or social associations, since the colonial order would not allow national political movements to exist in African societies under their rule. But during the 1950-1960s those associations transformed into political movements and parties that ultimately fought for independence and transitional governments, respectively. However, 60 years after the national liberations, most African ruling parties, especially the historic ones, are very much keen to explore identity differences from one another to hold onto power, despite the multiparty democratic regimes in which they operate. The claim to belonging to a certain identity (which may be even religious or linguistic) has degenerated into violence and civil wars in many post-independence African societies (Central African Republic, Cameroon, Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, just to mention a few). The assumption that identity-based political parties have not worked well for stronger, peaceful, and integrated African societies (except for a few countries) should bring about a new format of political parties that are ideological-based and which, despite all cultural differences, can indeed offer a better social-political confrontation among different political parties based on a whole set of ideological values. So, although a post-or-quasi-ideology permeates most historical political parties across Sub-Saharan Africa, this paper focuses primarily on the MPLA and UNITA post-war political ideologies as it looks at ideological patterns and verifies through their Statutes the existence of a quasi or full-scale political ideology, and how both parties relate and operate within the framework of political discourse in today’s Angola.


Sub-Saharan Africa, MPLA, UNITA, Political Parties, Ideology




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