DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE VIS-A-VIS THE SPACE OF DEVELOPMENT ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT.

11 min read

Before I proceed, I want to congratulate our Kenyan 🇰🇪 friends on the outcome of their elections by far. I also pray and hope that the anatomy of Kenya going forward in the democratic battle will be relentless in keeping the peace. I also want to wish our Angolan brothers in their upcoming election that holds two days from today; thus 24th August, 2022 if I am right. Let us share the message of peace and freedom in that Anatomy whilst we relentlessly work in the remits of the constitution.

There are two keywords on the aforementioned topic for today. 1. Democracy and 2. Governance. Now, Democracy has been a word I believe we have been privy too from our primal stage to now. It is a system where majority rules and the right of the minority are respected. Popular among the definitions we come by is from Abraham Lincoln’s; Government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is in short seen as the rule by the people as a form of Governance. On the other hand is seen as structures and processes designed to ensure accountability, responsiveness, inclusiveness, empowerment and broad-base participation (IBE, UNESCO). Prior to the advent of the West on our Continent our system of government has been monarchical to a large extent. Where power lies in the hand of kings, queens and chiefs with heir apparent to the thrones transiting to wield power. Howbeit, the story changed along the way in the 20th century where we become democratic states with different means to wielding power.

DEVELOPMENT

Development is seen as an event constituting a new stage in a changing situation. Change in this regard can either be positive or negative. However, development has been aligned with positivity over the centuries so I intend to ply in that direction. Africa has been on its own over centuries now and we have seen a lot of people that seeks our mandate to assume power with succulent promises of development. And in the alternating of powers, we have seen the state of the continent ever since we endorsed the very beautiful democracy that we have today. Indeed, many has gone down in history as leaders that cast their names in the very depth of our hearts in holding scripts whilst others left behind scars that refused to recuperate. Democracy is beautiful. It has worked for the West. Their development is enviable and we always use them as a yardstick to determine our situation. What has happened to our democracy and governance? Where did we get it wrong? How can the situation change for the best? At the moment, are we on track to achieve the development we want on the continent? So many of these rhetorical questions I believe lingers on the minds of my fellow African Legends as is mine.

In our part of the world, we give power to the people we want in power believing that we will rule through them. Howbeit, it becomes the irony as we see I’m most cases, serious subserviency with even the minority who democratically are the rulers relegated and few doing what they like at the top. If democracy was carved to bring development as we can attest to in other climes of the world, then let us see what worldview DEVELOPMENT has and with that spectacle probe our Continent to see if the we have also engineered the same outcome through our democratic system of government’s. With the zeal to qualify what should be climaxed under development, a lot of modules were developed by great minds. All were carved to address what was amiss in their time to bring about a uniform development. Their modules to me can alluded to the allusion of the three blind men who were made to identify an elephant by touching it. The likes of John Rawlings sees development as a distributive justice where there is improving basic needs (goods and services), to be provided by government, access to public goods by all social classes. Amartya San one of my favourites holds share the same idea of Freedom with AFRICAN VOICES INTERNATIONAL where he believes that freedom is development. And this he extends to the political, economic space. He posited that development must be people centered where people are protected from abject poverty (socialist movement) and there is a collective ownership of means of production and as well freedom of opportunity. Karl Marx on the other hand is our Conflict man but in the right direction where he holds that development occurs when the HAVES also known as the bourgeoisies, are overtaken by the Have nots also known as the proletariats after succumbing to their economic milking for a long while

We have bought into the indicators of what tells us we are developed like the 1. Human Development Index (HDI) 2. Gender Development Index (GDI) 3. Human Poverty Index (HPI) 4. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) amongst others. We are constantly speaking about Health, Education, Climate, welfare and what have you. All the above in our democracy but have we attained the development we want? If democratic governance entails the above and brings the above, do we have any? The African Continent has been brutalised by ourselves that we are nowhere close to any better development. We have relented in the fight and have given in to satisfying our parochial interest whenever we are at the helm of power. Instead of Development wearing the interest of the people, it is now wearing the pockets of leaders. Africa is blesses with all the natural resources you can think of. We always sing this but again, we are not even stable in the developing status we have earned. Let’s take a look at our sister Sierra Leone. The unrest there bids towards venting the economic frustration that is pushed down the throats of the ordinary citizens. Their demand to oust the president and the outcome is not new to us. The series of Ghana and of recent, THE ARISE DEMONSTRATION that sees citizens in venting their anger democratically against the spiralling inflation and other economic woes. It ended with clashes with the police leading to 29 arrests and other mild and severe injuries. Sri Lanka is not out of the economic quagmire. They lack fuel to the extent that there are restriction on who can buy it. Serious agitations took place until the president Kajapaksa have to resign and flee to Singapore. The country owes about billion dollars to foreign leaders including 6.5bn dollars from China. The prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is now borrowing 600m dollars from World Bank from India. Maybe that may ease the situation. Development is hardly felt anywhere on the continent my fellow Giants as we are all aware of and can see in the few examples above. We have the believe that when the continent is united, we can change our situation. Right from Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to Muammar Gaddafi trying to unite us failed. Now is the African Continental Free Trade Area. The secretary Mwenge was in Ghana recently and has given us hope as a continent that the reade commences soon. We only hope that it changes our fortune. All of these has inhibited our developmental. We have found ourselves in a continent where we practice Animal farm democracy; some people are more equal than others. The resources of the continent is not shared equally. Human life is at the mercy of leaders. I was privy to information in Somalia and Mali on the operation of Jihadist and all the nightmares that comes with them, Book Haram is still in Nigeria and life consistently lost as a result of these situations. The voice of the people they say is the voice of God yet, these voices has been ignored for far too long. We are practicing democracy but our results in power are more likeable to tyrrany than democracy. It is time we change the narrative. You know what, the most ingesting about the whole issue that whilst the youth rebel and later dins themselves in power, they become worst off than those they hooted in the past. I think a little step back will do at this juncture. We have taken this whole thing of Democracy, Governance and Development to the grand level that we have forgotten our part in it.

In our small a space of leadership, the individual Africans only think about themselves and both the greater good. They embezzle funds, get corrupt and use power to favour them. For the constitution, especially if they are partakers of drafting them, they make sure it fits their interest. An example is the indemnity clause section 34 in the Ghanaian 1992 constitution. We know what happened in Ivory Coast: the Laurent Gbagbo saga. The continent suffers, Superior dominance, Communication gap and embezzlement of fund. Whenever we mismanage an organisation because of bad leadership, we wreck the development of Africa. The onus lies on all of us especially we the Freedom Giants herein who are true Pan Africanists and are committed to doing our bid to change the narrative of our Continent. Is it not shameful that even the world was hit hard with Corona, we have to still depend on our counterparts in the dark depth for help? On the continent, we are bitterly complaining about the how much the Russia Ukraine war is costing us….in the name of what? heavy impartation. Last week, I checked the inflation rate of Ukraine it was 25%. Russia was 17%. But my country Ghana was 31.7% and the heartbreaking thing is, our leaders blame it on the Ruaaia-Ukraine war. But the people in war seems to be doing better than the observers of war. It is really heart aching. If we want to develop, then we have to go back to the table and check the governance system. The rule of law must be upheld to the highest bidder. Irrespective of who you are, the law must strike when it must. The law must safeguard the public purse. There must be a national agenda across the countries in the continent towards growth and development that the change in leadership can’t derail.

We must support government rather being on the edge and praying for their downfall so that they will fall for the opposition to take over. There is an adage that says that when two elephants fight, it is the ground that suffers. When this rancour continues, it is Africa that suffers. Our leaders must be ready to listen to the majority that vote for them and push them to power. Leadership is meant to transform for the best and not the worst. Separation of power must be at the peak to give checks and balances a way to promote Democratic management of state resources. Leaders must begin to allow for even distribution of the national cake and as well forge unity with opponents and put the continent and for that matter their countries first. We are at a crossroad and we need to assess our democratic governance and correct the anomalies towards achieving the development we want. In the bid to bring this lecture to a close, I urge all Giants to reassess themselves. We are the light and the salt of the continent (allusion to the Bible) we cannot fail ourselves. We do not need an army to commence the change we envisaged. You the one here with me is enough to pull the string of change towards the development we want in the continent.
Let us be Relentless in pushing harder. Let us be outright in every capacity we find ourselves as leaders. Let us be part of the national discourse of development. Let us never weary in the good work we are pushing across our part of the hemisphere. I believe in bits, change will come and on depth it shall be rooted that the world will hear Africa and say indeed we are the dust that forms life and we are unquenchable because we are Africans.


Thank you to all fellow Freedom Giants for joining in this lecture. I believe that we will all ho back holding the flag of Africa higher than we are already doing.

Thank you and God Bless Africa

Monday, 22nd August, 2022

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