Democratizing Post-Colonial Africa

Topics: Human rights, African Union, Law Pages: 5 (1157 words) Published: March 10, 2013
In an endeavor to enhance constructive, democratic and transparent governance for sustainable development in Africa, questions as to why Africa still remains with a poor record of Human Rights and Democracy should constantly reign supreme. It is in such respect that civic bodies such as the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) cater for the provision of an in-depth analysis and critique of African assertions and fallacies like, elections per se, amount to democracy. It can however be noted that elections in some African states e.g. Zimbabwe have never failed to take place but one inherent characteristic has been massive electoral fraud through coercive tactics, weak environment for the opposition to thrive thus blanketing the core tenets of democracy.

In the first turn of the 20th Century, Africa was reconfigured by widespread political regimes and repackaging of power blocs across the African continent triggered by the implosion of the former communist regimes, increased pace of globalization, the triumphalism of western liberal democracy, and increasingly assertive civil institutions. This has raised political issues such as, Why is opposition weak in Africa? Has Africa reached the TINA mode vis-à-vis globalization and liberal globalization? or Are there any new leaders in Africa or it is just old wine in new bottles? Despite a capitalistic economy, Ethiopia has adopted the Dominant Party State model of China, Taiwan and North Korea which is communist in its orientation where opposition politik is generally criminalized. The UNDP Report purports that,

“Without good governance-without the rule of law, predictable administration, legitimate power, and responsive regulation-no amount of founding, no amount of charity will set us on the path of posterity”.

-Kofi Annan (cited in UNDP, 1997:20).

Many African states have advocated for the dispossession and marginalization of the people thus perpetuating a culture of corruption. Marginalization is seen in the failure of the majority of the citizenry in accessing resources. Failure to do so results in many looking for corrupt channels and tendencies to access resources and services only a minority middle class and elite have access to. A cycle of corruption then emerges both for the poor and elite. For the elite, corruption is a tool of accumulation and survival in the game of politics, while for the poor it is a tool of basic survival. It has thus been argued that African states have been formed through a process of dispossession as a result a ‘us’ vs. ‘we’ mentality which has spilled over in the post-Colonial African state. Corruption then becomes a human right violation, common characteristic as seen in the hoarding of opportunities and resources for selfish means.

Whilst a parliament must be a product of the market economy, the Ugandan parliament has not been a people’s parliament but has rather been imposed upon the people. At the same time, most ruling elites (e.g Zimbabwe) use nationalistic policies to maintain power and support, heavily criticize Neoliberal Western ideologies (embodied in the IMF and World Bank) as a means of dismissing Western intervention and criticism against gross human rights violations. In Cameroon alone, governing processes have adopted a Jacobin model (French) where focus of power is at the top together with lack of a civic culture and space. Politicians use state apparatus as a tool of primitive accumulation and not to promote the welfare of its citizenry. The outcome is seen in the collapse of institutions and lack of human rights as well as social amenities such as schools and hospitals. Political culture is also characterized by a total disregard for the rule of law and human rights and this is exemplified in most of the Human Rights Watch and World Bank Reports,

“Without the foundations for good political and economic governance, Africa’s development will be sluggish- or stalled”.
-World Bank (2000:51).

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