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AFRICA DEMOCRATIC DILEMMA: IS THERE TRANSITION OR MORE CONFUSION

Arans Tabaruka

By Sadam Muballe

There has been 37 Coups Worldwide, 75% in Africa.

From the past, the Democratic dilemma continues to haunt African States since 1960‘s with Coups and Counter Coups loaming the independent continent.

After the Arab spring, from Tunisia to Egypt, wave of pro-democracy protests and uprisings that took place in the Middle East and North Africa beginning in 2010 and 2011 that challenged some of the region’s entrenched authoritarian regimes.

There was hope that the wave would see the continent move towards transiting to democracy but instead this has brought worst dictatorial regimes with endless political unrests that has also led to the rise of terrorism activities on the continent.

The ongoing militant and terror activity of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant branch in Tunisia (ISIL) switching from previous tactics of sporadic suicide attacks to attempts to gain territorial control and he Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to Bokoharam in Nigeria and Al Shabab in Somalia with afro pessimists taking the advantage to loot the continent mineral wealth under the guise of help.

These unfortunate incidents are clearly in line with scholars who have noted that the comfort of the bourgeois demands that the proletariats be kept in the most profound ignorance perhaps the continued mutinies and civil unrests in Africa are sponsored by European war lords.
In other words, the continued unrest in Africa benefits the west in some way. The Democratic Republic of Congo has minerals estimated to be 24 trillion dollars bigger than the US GDP making it the richest country in the world, but to date DR Congo is the poorest country despite its wealth underneath its grounds with Europe and America taking advantage of the existing political unrests to rip of its wealth.

Democratic Republic of Congo is rich in minerals such as Coltan, Tantalum, tin and Gold Uranium.

BUT WHERE DID AFRICA GO WRONG

As an Afro Optimist Professor Loch Otieno Lumumba once said,

“The tragedy and the problem of Africa is that whenever the Africans are given the opportunity to elect, what they do is they elect Hyena’s to take care of the goats and when the goats are consumed they wonder why”.

The learned professor is right, the electorates sometimes are victims of their own misfortunes, they elect dunderheads for petty peanuts in exchange for votes forgetting that it is their future.

The insatiable hunger for things they have not worked for has kept us stuck with miss leaders to take Africa in the right direction for years.

But is it just the problem of elections or it’s beyond just elections
Democracy in its own meaning and understanding is rooted in western liberal democracies with its origin in Athens.

Its core mandate highlights on regular elections, multi-party dispensation, independent civil societies among others as major pillars defining western democratic principles and that is where we go wrong.

Countries like China where there is a single-party system have thrived economically and today China is the second-biggest economy in the world. Analysts have said it’s because the country defined its own democracy with the realisation of its own problems, whether it is a democracy or not, that depends on who’s yardstick it is to measure but for them, that is the path they chose, perhaps Africa can learn from China.

Hybrid dictatorships conduct regular but ceremonial elections whose outcomes are always contested and mulled with irregularities and chaos. All this has manifested from the copy and pest democracy.

On the question of the Rule of law, Most African countries are diarchies and in most cases, the practice of constitutionalism is unrealistic and cannot work.
A point in the case is the last concluded general elections in Kenya that saw the incumbent president Uhuru Mwigai Kenyatta winning a controversial election. Raila Amolo Odinga, later on, went to Uhuru Park swearing-in as the people’s president.

The crime Odinga committed was treasonous but because of the support he had, his arrest by that time would have plunged the country into anarchy the worst and deadliest civil war in the history of Kenya so the crime went unpunished.

Raila Amolo Odinga (Kenya's leading opposition figure)

This simply means that for democracy to strive in Africa there is a need for self-realisation and redefining African democracy on the basis of Africa’s problem, what president Museveni terms as Ideological consciousness.

For a democracy, the constitution should be subjected to constitutionalism where everyone is equal before the rule of law, fair trial and access to justice. But as the late professor, Hastings Ogendo from the University of Nairobi notes, that most African leaders lack discipline and the citizens are following suit.

“African leaders have always been known for not obeying the constitution since the constitution itself lacks merit. The colonialists have already set in place a bad example of governance, but Africa lack good leadership that will confront this dilemma and thus take Africa out of its debilitating condition where Leadership is observed to be the most critical, such that many depict the continent as a faraway place where good people go hungry, bad people run the government, and chaos and anarchy are the norms”.

 

This means that most African leaders are married to laws that favour them and those that don’t are enemies of progress which should be changed. In most cases, constitutions have been changed with countries like Uganda scrapping off its presidential term limits using the tyranny of numbers in parliament. This has promoted bad precedent with African leaders waging wars against their own constitutions in order to support their greed and grip on power.

SO WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD?

Self dependency and lessons learned from our fore father is something African leaders can borrow from, whereas the dearth of good leadership in postcolonial Africa is inversely proportional to the widespread poverty, not only of ideas about running the societies and states, but also the impoverishment of the populace.

The idea of one united African my not be achieved now, but Africa is moving towards that direction. The formation of a single currency dream in Africa is a good move that should be implemented to create a one strong currency which can later form one single African currency.

The role of academicians is very critical towards the development of a nation and Africa at large, leaders should create good environment for professors to remain in Africa and promote the African agenda, respect for constitutionalism with realization of Africa’s challenges at hand will move Africa forward the rest will be history with a united states of Africa in place. Even a united Europe and America will not shake a united Africa within standing army since Europe and American has been on the center stage to destabilizing Africa through supporting military mutinies

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Arans Tabaruka
Arans Tabaruka

Editor and Africa correspondent

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