In my previous two columns before the one last week, “Dr. Politics Redux,” I made the point that if one political party gets most of its votes from one ethnic group, then the logic of clientelism or patronage means that the leaders must disproportionately reward its base. This becomes a major problem when base rewarding is strongly correlated with favouring one ethnic group over another when it comes to contracts, civil service jobs, government scholarships, house lots, gold-mining and timber rights, marketable land, and military recruitment, among other things. The columns furthermore noted that the struggle to control economic resources is at the centre of the no-confidence vote and the government’s refusal to give up power immediately.
It is also true that both of the two dominant political parties, the PPP/C and PNCR, have been known to provide cross-ethnic opportunities for outsiders to earn rent (rent means earnings that are not associated with market competition, but through political connection or the monopoly ownership of a resource). The outsiders tend to be the better-off people of the other group. In this scenario, we should see the persistence high income inequality. The masses of the group which did not win and the independents tend to be the big losers in this outcome…..