Distinction Between State and Government

IntroductionThe state and government are distinguished in terms of functions, structures, duties, composition and the nature of their powers. The state is permanent, whilst government changes, altered or modified and even overthrown. The state employs bureaucrats who employed based on merit and who are politically neutral to conduct its business whilst government consists of elected officials who represent partisan sympathies.

The state is more extensive than the government. The state is characterized by state institutions, exercise of legitimacy, territorial association and sovereignty whilst government is composed of three arms namely legislature, executive and judiciary. However the state and government are interrelated as the government acts in the name of the state to make public choices. The state cannot exist without a government. Government represents the state in international politics. Government is the brains of the state hence they are mutually related and bad relations as government do what is contrary to its people. Definition of key terms

The state according to Heywood (2000:39) argues, that the state is a political association that establishes sovereign jurisdiction within defined territorial borders and exercises authority through a set of state institutions. Khan and Mc Niven (1999:26) defined a state as symbol of social and political organization of a large group of people and states contain population, territory, government and sovereignty.Shivelly (2008:54) argue that a state is a political unit that has ultimate responsibility for the conduct of its own affairs for example Brazil, Zimbabwe or Zambia.

The Jewish people do not make a state since it is not a political unit but Israel is the state. Government is according Everyman’s Library (1973:228), it is an intermediate body set up between the subjects and the sovereign to secure their mutual correspondence, charged with execution of the laws and maintenance of liberty both civil and political. Dean (2010:17) defines government as the conduct of conduct which means to lead, direct or to guide a state.

Shivelly (2008:62) contends that government is the group within the state who has ultimate authority to act on behalf of the state. Levine and Cornwell (1972:1) are of the view that the term government means a set of constitutionally derived formal institutions such as executives, legislature and courts. Hence the government is the unique group of the state, only that group has the right to make decisions that everyone in the state has duty to accept and obey. Distinguishing state and governance

The state is permanent whilst the government changes, is altered or modified and even overthrown. The state, for example Zimbabwe remains as it is, it does not go under changes. Zimbabwe as a state in 1980 it is still Zimbabwe even today.

Government on the other hand changes isaltered or modified and even overthrown. Heywood (2000:40) argues nevertheless the state is a continuing even permanent entity while government is temporary within an enduring state system governments may come and go and systems of government may be reformed and remodeled. .For example according to Khan and Mc Niven (1999:28), contends that the coming to power of government of the Philippine’s under Corazon Aquino in 1986 which was overthrown by Ferdinard Marcos did not did not alter the statehood of the Philippine’s.

In Zimbabwethe government changed to the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2008.Hence state and government are different as the state is permanent whereas government changes, is modified or overthrown. The state and government are different in terms of the nature of their powers. The state according to Burns et al (1994:47) argues the power not given exclusively to the national government by the provision of judicial interpretation, maybe concurrently exercised by the states as long as there is no conflict within the national law.

Each state has concurrent powers with the national governmentsuch power to levy taxes through institutions like Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra). On the other hand the government has power to make laws for the state even without the consent of the people thus it has absolute and final legal authority over all matters and is not subject to any power outside itself according to Khan and mc Niven (1999:29). For example laws such as Public order Security Act (POSA) enforced by the government without seeking the consent of the people.

Therefore, state and government are different in terms of the nature of their powers as each has its own specific powers different from the other. Nevertheless, state and government are differentiated as the state is characterized by sovereignty, state institutions, legitimacy and territorial association whilst government is characterized by the three arms namely legislature, executive and judiciary respectively.

According to Heywood (2000:39), contends through sovereignty the state exercises absolute and unrestricted power in that it stands above all other associations and groups in society. Hobbes for this reason portrayed the state as a “Leviathian” a gigantic monster. State institutions are recognizably “public” in contrast to the private institutions of civil society. The state bodies are responsible for making and enforcing collective decisions in society and are funded ate the public expense.

For example in Zimbabwe the police, army and courts are funded by the state for them to function fully. Due to legitimacy state decisions are usually accepted as binding on the citizens and it possess coercive power to ensure that its laws are obeyed and transgressors are punished as Weber put it, the state has monopoly of the means of legitimate violence. Territorial association, the state exercises jurisdiction within geographically defined borders and in international politics. For example totalitarian states of Hitler in Germany, Stalin in Russia (USSR) and Hussains in Iraq.

Contrary ,the government is characterized by legislative which makes laws for example Indigenisation policy ,the executive implements which consist the president Mugabe and cabinet ministers lastly the judiciary interprets laws includes courts like high and supreme court. Therefore state and government are different. Moreover the state exercises impersonal authority in the sense that the personnel of the state bodies are recruited and trained in a bureaucratic manner and are usually expected to be politically neutrally enabling state bodies to resist the ethusiasisms of the government of the day.

On the other hand members in government according Heywood (2000:40),represents the partisan sympathies of those happen to be in power at any particular time. This include elected or appointed officials including the president Mugabe, parliamentarians ,ministers and judges or attorney general Mr Tomana an appointed official.In essence state bureaucrats are to be politically neutral for example permanent secretaries of government institutions like ministry of finance and auditor and comptroller general who are appointed on basis of merit to conduct states business. However, due to the fear of losing their posts bureaucrats are taking sides.

Contrary to this ,government officials favour one another for example Land reformmade governments officials to acquire many farms ministers like Mr Chombo and Indigenisation is favoring government officials to a greater extent as minister Mr Mpofu almost whole of Bulawayo he has accumulated so much wealth. Thus state employs bureaucrats to conduct its business and they should be politically neutral whilst government officials are elected or appointed and they represent partisan sympathies. However the state and governance though are different they are both necessary to the study of politics. According toHeywood (2000:41) argues that politics is often understood as the study of the state.

There is need for a state and a basis of political obligation.Then individuals should obey the state because it the only safeguard they have against disorder and chaos. The government has been traditionally been the principal object of political analysis, the art of government exercise of control within society through the making and enforcement of collective decisions.

RELATIONS BETWEEN STATE AND GOVERNMENTThe state and government are mutually interrelated as the people in the state elect the government officials into power. The government official in return convert inputs from the people in the state into outputs that is to say turn demands into policies for example land reform and indigenisation policies respectively.However bad relations exist where governments imposes laws without the consent of the people for POSA acts in Zimbabwe and contrary to what people want. Revolutions are also a signof bad relations between government and its people for example in Syria. The state forces are used to suppress the people.

Thus, state and government are mutually related one cannot function without the other. More so, the government runs and represents the state on foreign affairs with the aid of ambassadors. Khan and Mc Niven (1999:29), argues that international law recognizes states rather than governments as legal entities “International persons” having right and obligations.

Diplomats are accredited representations of one state to another. In the United Nations membership is given to a state and not to a particular government. For example government signs treaties or international agreement on behalf of the state, the government of Zimbabwe signed a treaty with China in 2012 to strengthen trade relations. This does not necessarily mean thirteen million Zimbabweans signed the treaty.

Thus government and state are related as government is only an agent of the state. Moreover, the state and government are related as government is the apparatus of the state to provide goods and services to people. In Zimbabwe the government is a device to provide goods and service like health, education, defense and security. The government mobilizes money through taxes in the state to meet demands for the state. The government in order to provide goods and services makes use of civil servants such as teachers, nurses, doctors etc. According Elgie and Griggs (2000:2) argue that these people are paid by the state. Conclusion

In a nutshell the state and government are differentiated as the state is stable or permanent whilst the governments come, remodeled or altered. The state is characterized by state institutions like army for defense, police etc. whilst government is composed of legislature, executive and judiciary. Though, different they are both necessary to the study of politics. However the state and government are interrelated as government is the brains of the state. The government is the apparatus of the state to provide goods and services. Bad relations exist where the government does things contrary to the people.


Blandel J.1995.Comparative Government (An Introduction).Second Edition.London.Prentice Hall. Burns et al.1994.Government by the People. Second Edition.London.Prentice Hall. Dean M.2010.Governmentality Power and Rule in Modern Society. United States. Sage Publications. Elgie R and Griggs S. 2000.French Politics (Debate and controversies.)United States.Routledge.