The Possibility of Democracy and Development Within the African State Research Paper
Democracy is a system of governance which entails the representation of people, and it is based on consent where the mandate to rule is not permanent but subject to renewal over a period of time. Most African states are underdeveloped and democracy is far from being achieved, and this has presented the greatest challenge to its citizens and the world at large (Lindberg 78-84).
In 2007, the general elections in Kenya were claimed to have been rigged in favor of government. There was civil unrest which led to destruction of property and loss of lives, the peaceful country which had enjoyed relative peace since its independence in 1960’s had joined the growing list offailed states in Africa.
The Chinese official newspaper reported that the western democracy was unsuitable for Africa (Goergy 4). The comment supported the widely held opinion that democracy and development is not possible in Africa.The African continent has experienced a lot of conflicts, wars and more failed states than any other continent.
The conflicts among the countries have provided a lucrative market for arms and weapons from the developed countries. This infiltration of arms and weapons into the hands of civilians undermines development and democracy in the continent.
Somalia has been without a government for over two decades now, and there is no hope of having one in the near future. Most civilians are armed because guns are easier to come by, and they have joined different factions in the country, each trying to take control of the country. The country now is the most unsafe place in the whole world. Under such a grim situation, development and democracy is simply not possible(Ake 95).
The situation has been made worse by the western democracies when they imposed the democracy as it is understood in the west. This attempt to impose the whole concept of democracy, as it were, in America in a single package has been the major cause for chaos in the continent witnessed to date(Shtedman 54).
The current political events in Africa point to a crisis of commitment to democratic leadership. Despite advancements in intellectualism, education and the influence of globalization, the continent’s leaders are disregarding the national constitution and subverting the people’s will as they continue in their unaccountable leadership and wild corruption.
In early 1990’s there were celebrations that Africa would finally embrace democracy especially with fall of Communism and ending of the cold war, but this quickly faded away as ordinary people find themselves reduced to helpless spectators and marginalized as the political class and their families squander the public resources.
Zimbabwe was considered the jewel of Africa in 1980 when it gained its independence, now it has been held ransom by Mugabe, who has been in power as the president since independence. He has refused to give up power, even after being defeated in the elections, and he has sunk the country into economic ruins. The elections that were held in Zimbabwe are a clear testament that African leaders have no sense of respect and dignity to democratic ideals (Chika 22).
Uganda which has been seen as another hope of emerging African democracy has been plunged into a state of dictatorship. President Museveni of Uganda has forced himself for a third term in office despite the constitution allowing for only two consecutive terms.
He appointed his wife into the cabinet and appointed his son as head of the military to maintain a firm grip to power, while his close associates are campaigning for a life presidency. The security forces have been used to crush opposition voices and suppressing any dissenting opinion. This is the state of affairs in most countries across the continent, and under such circumstances development and democracy will never be experienced (Chika 24).
In Cameroon things has not been any better either, the president wants to extend his office term illegally. In Nigeria, the most populous country in the continent and which had taken some strides towards democracy has once again slid back, almost into anarchy.
The former president, Obasanjo who was celebrated as one of the best leaders in the continent is now facing charges of abuse of office and corruption during his tenure. These, among other numerous cases in the continent, demonstrate that democracy and development will not work in Africa (Chika 23).
The case of Rwanda and Burundi where mass murder and genocide took place that shook the whole world is still clear in our memories. These barbaric atrocities were committed and supervised by those in leadership. This shows how democracy will not work in Africa.
The civil war in Sudan which has taken more than a quarter of century, led to the splitting the country into two independent states early this year, and tension is still high between the two countries showing that not all is well and war can break out any time. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is endowed with mineral resources and has the largest deposits of diamonds, Gold and Uranium in Africa, yet it has remained among the poorest countries in the world, because of corruption, and poor leadership.
Africa has clearly shown that it is reluctant to take any bold steps towards democracy and instead it’s taking the calamitous steps once again into the dark ages where lack of accountability, misrule and despondency is the norm. Democracy and development is not possible in Africa (Stedman 120).
Ake, Claude. Democracy and Development in Africa. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1996. Print.
Chika, Charles. The African Executive: Is Democracy Working in Africa?.2008. Web.
Georgy, Michael. Reuters: China View of Africa democracy hits sensitivities. November 2008. Web.
Lindberg, Staffan. Democracy and Elections in Africa. New Delhi: JHU Press, 2006. Print.
Stedman, Stephen.The Political Economy of Democratic Development. London: L. Reinner Publishers, 1993. Print.
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