Building the Capacities of Political Parties in Southern Africa: Reviewing the Strategy of the Netherlands

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    Democratic governments of the Western world see good governance principles and democratic processes as preconditions for successful development. They support these through various types of initiatives, programmes and projects channelled through bilateral and multilateral organisations, as well as via non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) and political foundations. Assuming that good governance and democracy are among the key ingredients for societies in the South to move ahead, the question is how democratic capacities can best be developed in these countries? Moreover, what role should financing partners play, in providing appropriate assistance to emerging processes and structures and what type of institutional set-up is required to support these agendas?

    This paper, which is based on experiences from the field, contributes to a wider debate on the strategic choices and options on how best to support this complex development agenda. Strengthening democratic development and good governance on the African continent has been of major concern to the international community throughout the 1990’s. Like other donor countries, the Netherlands Government has joined in this cause and it has financed cross-cutting activities such as civic education, election processes and the setting up of democratic institutions. It has also supported the development of individual political parties. 

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