Thursday May 1 2014

Democracy is a myth in Africa

By Moses Hategeka

How would you describe African politicians? Are they true democrats? Is multi-party democracy a solution to Africa’s visionary and transformative leadership deficiency problem? Why is it that in most African countries, many voters are usually not satisfied with election results?

In almost all African countries, elections are always characterised by massive malpractices, State-engineered harassment and intimidation using security forces, vote rigging, bribery, and imprisonment of Opposition political activists.

For a multi- party democracy to flourish and produce leadership that a country’s citizens are proud of, there must be a free media, judicial independence, freedom of expression, functioning civil society, strong and independent electoral body and genuine political will. Unfortunately, in Africa, all these are in cosmetic existence.

In Egypt, for instance, journalists are harassed, tortured, and imprisoned on tramped-up charges by authorities; many have lost their lives under unclear circumstances, while others have had to flee the country to escape being killed.

The situation is no different in many African countries where media owners are operating under constant fear and harassment, and are forced to only publish or air content that pleases those in authority.

In Uganda, there are many incidences where courts of law have granted bail to suspects, only for them to be rearrested in front of judges. Judicial decisions are not respected in most African countries - especially decisions that threaten the political and economic survival of incumbent leaders and their supporters.

That is why some judges in some countries are increasingly becoming political cadres and working to serve the interests of those in power. It is only in a few countries like Botswana, Cape Verde and Ghana where multi- party democracy seems to be functioning.

So, without strong institutions where political parties are more important and stronger than their leaders, and institutions more important and stronger than individuals who head them, attaining a functioning multi-party democracy will remain a dream.

We must choose between pretending and actualising, bearing in mind that sustainable development is only possible and powered by clean, fair, and free democratic dispensation.