Pierre du Toit is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at Stellenbosch University. In 1992 he was awarded a Peace Fellowship from the Jennings Randolph Program for International Peace at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, with a focus on the role of the state in democratic transitions. The results of this research project were published in the book State Building and Democracy in Southern Africa: Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa (USIP Press, 1995). His subsequent research has been on the durability of negotiated peace settlements, which is the topic of his 2001 book South Africa's Brittle Peace: The Problem of Post-Settlement Violence (Palgrave-Macmillan,). He is the recipient of a Fulbright New Century Scholars Award for 2002-2003. His latest book, co-authored with Prof Hennie Kotzé, is called Liberal Democracy and Peace in South Africa: The Pursuit of Freedom as Dignity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
Traditional democratic institutions have not easily taken root in African soil. Too often, attempts at cultivating democratic norms have foundered, leaving anarchy or authoritarianism. What, then, are the chances that South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy will endure?
With this question in mind, South African political scientist Pierre du Toit probes the conditions under which democracy can grow. He examines three southern African states that, despite similarities, have very different track records: Botswana, perhaps the most successful democracy in continental Africa; Zimbabwe, where a partial democracy is faltering; and South Africa, just beginning it's bold experiment.
Weighing the impact of each country's heritage, ethnic composition, and economic circumstances, du Toit demonstrates that democratic outcomes depend on the nature and strength of the state. Democratic practices are embedded in a broader network of state and societal instiutions; only if these institutions are robust and resilient can democracy flourish.