THE WAY FORWARD FOR AFRICAN RENAISSANCE-DEMOCRACY, NOT ELECTOCRACY.
Today African nations are groaning under several versions of undemocratic governments and non governmental organizations of all imaginable dimensions and motivations are clamoring and competing in advices on how to deepen and broaden democratic practice for African nations. However, the truth is that at best, what the foreign and local non governmental organizations have been recommending all along are but ELECTOCRATIC as against DEMOCRATIC practices.
Democracy is about mass participation in governance in all facets of society as against Electocracy, which begins and ends with elections. Whereas allover Africa, elections are creating deep seethed problems and creating divisions and crisis of immense proportions, democracy on the other hand which is about inclusivity ia an ultra solution harbinger desperately needed to heal African political and governmental wounds and set Africa on the path of reconciliation, amity, growth, development and renaissance.
In the recently concluded general elections in Nigeria for instance, the Independent National Electoral Commission[INEC] pronounced that the current Nigerian president Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan won the elections on the strength of 22.4 votes. Now, Nigeria is a nation of over 140 million people and for a president to govern on the strength of 22.4million votes can hardly be said to be democratic. By the way, Nigeria has about 30 million of its citizens residing in the Diaspora and they were all excluded from the elections.
When an examination of the financial and other costs of elections in African nations is undertaken and when one considers numerous other needs confronting its peoples that are ignored for these elections which from experience create more enemies than friends, the question must be asked as to why African leaders, patriots, and intellectuals have not been able to create more African people friendly systems that can make brothers more brotherly and create sustainable environment for peace,integration,unity and development.
This paper posits that in this age of information technology, all necessary facilities for creating mass participatory systems of governments for the long suffering peoples of Africa are abundantly available requiring only the political will to open African nations to the golden age of peace and real and proper democratic practices that will take adequate care of all her citizens in Africa and in the Diaspora and involve all in the actualization of the ideals of African renaissance.
Africa is blessed with all the necessary raw materials and intellectual capital needed for development. Africans are amongst the most accomplished experts and intellectuals to be found in all fields of human endeavor allover the globe. All that is needed is a system that can synergize their know how and inspire their patriotic and pan African zeal for development. True democratic governance that this paper not only indicates but seeks to explain in detail is posited as the way forward and as the saying goes, there is no stopping an idea whose time has come.
So much has been written, spoken and sketched about African renaissance, integration, unity and development, but what remains to be properly, nay, practically articulated for execution are the concrete steps that must be taken to actualize the ideals of this African renaissance.
This aspect has remained a vacuum and must be addressed before Africans can reap the benefits of this phenomenon since obviously the African renaissance is not to permanently remain merely as an intellectual discourse.
Africa beyond semantics posses all the necessary ingredients for the needed revolutionary transformation and does not need to rely on western world to achieve the goals of its renaissance….in other words, the path for Africa's renaissance lies in looking inwards, in self reliance and in self rediscovery and in self actualization.
Most of the conflicts, problems and hindrances witnessed in Africa and amongst Black and African peoples are in truth deliberately and structurally engineered and subtereneously inspired.
To begin to establish social,economic,political and other paradigms for Africa's renewal and development, one must come to terms with structures established by centuries of imperialism, colonialism and post colonialism. One should then appreciate that when most, if not all African nations achieved political independence from their erstwhile colonial masters, what really happened was that the indigenous politicians who were leading agitations for independence as well as those who were in some cases even not interested and in other cases, even vehemently opposed to political independence, simply stepped into the shoes of the departing colonial masters. Mainwhile,the shoes were in actual fact and in practical realities, substructures and political super structures and other organs of governance that were fashioned out specially for political castration and emasculation of the masses and peoples of the various African nations for their speedy and uninterrupted exploitation.
What is democracy
According to Wikipedia: Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal [ and more or less direct] participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.
Democracy in Africa.
African roots of democracy is an undeniable fact of history. Western history says that ancient Greece gave Europe their democracy. Western history also admits that the Greek in turn got their democracy from ancient Egypt. What Western history does not deny ,neither does it declare is that ancient Egypt that gave the Greek their democracy were hundred percent black people. The black founders and builders of ancient Egypt were later to migrate south when they lost their empire to invaders mostly from Asia.
Historical revelations point to the fact that democracy was practiced in Igboland of Nigeria long before it found its way into Greece and the reports of historians as well as explorer on the system of governance practiced in Igboland before the imposition of colonial rule attest to this.
Forde and Jones[1950:24] like Ottenberg ,saw the Igbo political culture as ''ultra democratic' in its values, having no hierarchical type of political organization. Perham noted of them as 'sturdily democratic', whereas Coleman [1958:336} qualifies the Igbo political organization as 'conciliar and democratic'. Dike[1957:37] comments on Igbo political tradition as 'excess democracy'. In all, it was the above political climate or tradition that gave everyone who cared, the opportunity to mobilize and distinguish himself or herself[Onuoaha 1993:148}.In traditional Igboland, the small-scale village units made real democracy tenable.
Western visitors to Igboland strikingly discovered 'the extent to which democracy was truly practiced. Some felt they were in a free land, among free people', while others said' that true liberty existed in Igboland……..Healing Insanity: A study of Igbo Medicine in Contemporary Nigeria By Patrick E. Iroegbu.
''Democracy works only when it has evolved within a specific socio-cultural environment and fused into the traditional political systems such that it is seen as an indigenous product, but unfortunately Africa has not been given the opportunity to develop this''---Jerry Rawlings.
There can be no denying the fact that the forms of democracy being practiced in Africa today is not only alien but not working and breeds nothing but discord and corruption.
Eustace Davis, a director of Free Market Foundation says that in Africa, representative democracy has not functioned as well as direct-democratic systems where people make decisions, usually by consensus, after thorough discussions of specific issues. It is not true that African democracy if properly implemented allows Kings, Queens and Chiefs to act autocratically and impose unpopular decisions on their communities. This is only possible in representative democracies where fifty percent plus one provide sufficient majority to carry a decision.
Democracy Vs Electocracy
Cost of Elections and Electocracy in Africa.
In the past five years there have been destructive and violent election-related conflicts in Kenya[2007/08],Zimbabwe ,Nigeria [2007,2011],Lesotho , the Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo, Zanzibar, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast and Uganda .
IMF official cautions African countries on election costs-Roger Nord, senior adviser in the African Department says such discretion helped many African economies weather the economic downturn of 2008-2009.
With over 30 African countries scheduled to hold parliamentary and presidential elections this year, the international Monetary Fund[IMF] warns their leaders to balance their need to spend money for votes with macro-economic prudence.
So far, about 18 African countries have held elections and a few ,including Egypt and Sudan, have had referendums. Having elections may be good and what has been seen the past 20 years in Africa is a big move toward more representative government. But, at the same time, election years present undeniable challenges, particularly in the contest where countries are exposed to shocks, from higher fuel prices and higher food prices in global markets, and governments will have to react to that. One example that has been cited by the IMF of election overspending is Ghana in 2009 when the government there reportedly had to turn to the IMF for a S1 billion loan.
Democracy-nay, Electocracy or electocratic governance is increasingly becoming a very expensive enterprise. When one considers the high cost involved in establishing, organizing and promoting a political party. In both industrialized and developing economies, most political parties must operate-from the ground up, with a huge army of representatives, extensive consultants, lobbyists, and campaign specialists. Then, once, a political party wins the national elections to form government, it must begin to budget for the administrative regimes, agencies and institutions that are required by national laws to build and sustain accountability and transparency in government. But assessing the cost of democracy is in mo way complete until one adds those very high expenses needed to support periodic elections. The government of Zambia will spend K322 billion on this year's tripartite elections, Deputy Minister in the office of the vice president Daniel Munkombwe told parliament on June 23rd 2011.
Oumar Ba of the Bokamoso Leadership Forum said 'Elections are expensive. Really expensive. I propose that the African Union convene a group of experts to do a cos/benefit analysis of elections in Africa''
A look at some African nations that have organized elections in the recent past reveals the enormous and atrocious cost in terms of human lives , not to talk of loss properties attending them. Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Cote d'Ivoire are outstanding examples in this respect.
The Human Rights Watch has said that about 800 people were killed in the Northern parts of Nigeria following the riots that greeted the outcome of the April 2011 presidential poll in the 12 states in three days.
N1.3 trillion, representing 42% of the 2009 Nigerian budget , was earmarked for the remuneration of 17,500 individuals holding public and political offices in a country of 150 million people.
The African Diaspora.
The African Diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world—predominantly to the Americas, and also to Europe, the middle East and other places around the globe. The term has been historically applied in particular to the descendants of the Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas by way of the Atlantic slave trade, with the largest population in Brazil. In modern times, it is also applied to Africans who have emigrated from the continent in order to seek education, employment and better living for themselves and their families. People from Sub-Saharan Africa, including many Africans, number at least 800 million in Africa and over 140 million in western hemisphere, representing around 14% of world's population.
Shadow governments for mass participatory democracy in Africa.
The main deficiency with most if not all forms of the so called democracy practices in Africa is that it is elitist, exclusivist and abstract. The people in government have little or no connections with the masses and legislate , execute and adjudicate matters according to their selected whims and caprices. The only times when there is any form of mandatory relationship or intercourse between those in authority and those that are governed are when elections come around which happens usually every four years or five years. Even then those in authority seeking elections have solidly impoverished the populace that hunger forces the electorate to reelect the elites in authority. These are some of the reasons for which the systems of government currently practiced in Africa are aptly described as ELECTOCRACY as against DEMOCRACY.
To correct this all pervading anomaly two principal initiatives are strongly recommended:1,mass participatory systems and 2, Shadow governments.
1,Multi Interactive websites for mass participatory democratic governance in Africa.
''only through the direct and continuous participation of all citizens in political life can the state be bound to the common good or general will'' Rousseau.
The fundamental purpose of this initiative is to utilize available advanced information technology to bridge the ever widening gap existing between the governments and the peoples of Africa and to impose a mass participatory system of government.
The conception is that in the first instance a multi interactive website be designed for the people of Africa, creating windows corresponding with all existing strata, levels, departments, ministries, parastatals, agencies, commissions e.t.c. of governments whether at national, sub regional or local levels , down to community levels as the case may be in the respective African states.
This is to say that all such bodies will have special but interconnecting windows where interested citizens and others can share views, ask questions, make suggestions, conduct researches were relevant or necessary as they may deem fit.
Millions of interested Africans whether at home or in the Diaspora can browse into any required windows on the website and check out anything that catches their fancy. One may decide to look up how the Executive Chairman/Secretary of his, her local government council for instance, has been carrying on the administration of the council. He could ask questions and get answers.
The website will have direct and indirect applications on the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial arms of government.
All executive positions in government should be operated in such a way that all citizens who have positive contributions to make in the department are allowed to make such contributions. The current situation where executive functions of government are run in a manner that excludes the average interested citizen must be replaced by a people friendly and inclusivity prone style.
Archival proposals and other materials.
Mental and intellectual endeavors are usually ignored and relegated to the background African nations. We easily forget that all human advances, inventions, and civilizations started as ideas and intellectual initiatives and proposals.
If a compilation of proposals by various African to different government ministries and one takes a critical look of the ingenuity involved and encapsulated in them, one will be amazed at how African governmental systems as presently obtaining in the various African nations kill ingenuity.
The proposed website will also feature virtual libraries that will document and store all traceable proposals by Africans to all government agencies through the ages.
The legislative arms of government in Africa today operate in isolation and has no direct bearing on the people it claims to be legislating for.It is therefore recommended that this sorry state be amended to bring about a condition where the legislature must flow from the people.
The electorates in a particular legislative constituency can hold meetings on the website and indulge in other consultative intercourse, and even commend a particular legislator for effective performance at any level as may be deemed fit. The electorates may even initiate process of recall on an erring legislator likewise.
It is important to compile and make available to the interested public the cases lined up in the numerous courts of law in the various African nations. Indeed a virtual library of these is imperative if one is to appreciate the ordeals that citizens of African nations, especially the underprivileged are confronted with.
Thousands of citizens have been alleged to be languishing In jails , many on awaiting trials for many years without any tangible hope of change in their situations. Needless to say they must all be adjudged innocent until proven guilty.
African Peoples Shadow Government.
People have tried to argue that the idea of shadow governments is limited to and can only apply to parliamentary systems of governments as obtain in great Britain. To respond modestly, that thinking is simply a product of a lack of imagination as there is nothing that makes it a crime otherwise.
The shadow governments that I propose is one that affords African polities an articulated and cohesive alternative view point to governmental affairs and issues for the benefit of the nations and continent.
It is directly proposed that shadow officers be selected from interested and capable Africans at home and in the Diaspora for all elective positions in the polity. That is to say that there will be shadow presidents/Vice Presidents, Prime Ministers, Governors/ Deputy Governors, Shadow ministers, commissioners and shadow legislators corresponding to all legislative houses in the African nations and including for the African Union.
The whole gamut of the shadow government is proposed to be operated in part from/on the multi interactive websites recommended earlier.
Beyond the shadow teams articulated for all elective positions in the various African nations, it is further proposed that a second level of shadow officers be assembled and organized for all appointed positions in the African nations such as Ministers, Ambassadors e.t.c. to articulate and espouse mass oriented alternative view points and action plans for better African democratic governance.
*Independent African Electoral Commission.
Despite all the monumental efforts that have gone into the setting up and running of the African Union, right from its time as the organization for African Unity[OAU] as far as promoting integrational pan African democratic practice and culture is concerned, the Africa Union has been a monumental failure. Indeed all its structures make false claims as t being democratic, and I dare say that unless and until this false orientation is radically changed even a million years will not be enough for that body to achieve the much taunted African integration.
All the bodies of that organization promote electocracy and repression of citizens when they should be promoting democracy and liberty of citizens.
Take the pan African parliament for instance—how does it get its members? The truth is that most if not all the members of the African parliament are there as delegates of dictatorial governments that steal the mandates of their citizens.
For the African Union [AU] to become an agent of African integration, unification and democratic development, one thing that must be done is that there must be created an AFRICAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION.
The African Electoral Commission should amongst other things be charged with the responsibility of organizing elections into the African Union including all its organs such as the pan African parliament. For the purposes of the elections to be organized and conducted by the African Electoral Commission, all African nations shall be construed as electoral constituencies for which candidates must seek mandates. The Chairman or President of the union must emerge as the president of an African nation emerges which is by majority vote cast all over Africa including the African Diaspora.
*Gender harmony , not gender balancing or gender equality.
Africa in most parts had perfected gender harmony in its affairs. In many pre colonial African states for instance, there operated a bi cameral legislature where men operated one and the women another and they both operated in perfect harmony. Today the western world is imposing its civilization and trying to set African women at war with their man folks.
The first lesson that all peoples must imbibe in their quest for true democratic governance is that democratic institutions must grow out of the culture and historical realities of peoples setting them up. This is as to say that all nations must develop a home grown democratic structure of their own that is in tandem with their existential realities.
Today, the western world and the United States seek by any means necessary and unnecessary to impose their way of life on all peoples that will let them. The truth is that it is left for the peoples instituting democratic governance to ensure that their hue of democracy is in consonance with their various cultures as this is the only way not only to ultimately make their democracy sustainable but to ensure maximum peace , tranquility and development for their peoples. The case of most African peoples is even more glariing in the sense first of all that democracy as the world knows itr was invented and first practiced in Africa. Secondly, Africa had developed democratic structures that worked in perfect harmony with their cultures and traditions before the colonial interruptions, and common sense dictates that in achieving political independence, African nations should have strived to return as much as possible to their original systems of governance.
In this respect there are outstanding differences between the democracy practices by original African states and the western world .
1,African democracy operated a system of legislature that created , operated and maintained different legislative assemblies for males and different assemblies for females. on the other hand, western democracies ran legislative assemblies were men and women were members of the same legislative houses. Humanity has forgotten that African nations operated systems that had perfected gender harmony hundreds of thousands of years before coming in contact with western democracies which seek ostensibly to create problems and divisions were none existed,. Today all manners of non governmental organizations are campaigning for gender equality on the sponsorship of western nations who were directly responsible for the destruction and theft of African civilizations.
What stops modern African nations from running bicameral parliaments with separate chambers for males and separate chambers for females? In many parliaments, the legislative houses are two, one usually known as senate or upper chamber , and the other the House of Representatives or the lower chambers- what stops one be assigned for the males and the other for the females?
2,Western democracies forces a people to chose one person out of many, one party out of many-in short, it is about excluding some and including others in governance. African democracy on the other hand is about a win- win situation for all. It is about getting everyone to contribute perpetually to national welfare, and development.
In a nation of about 150 million citizens for instance as in Nigeria, western democracy does not see anything wrong in a situation why a candidate in a presidential election emergies president on the strength of the votes of 22.4 million people, whereas African democracy will consider that to be strange indeed.
3,Western democracy envisages and in fact instructs and demands that their must be those in government and those in opposition, whereas under African democracy, everybody must be in government as government is for all.A man's view on a particular matter may not be acceptable to the community, that dose not mean that his views on all other matters are unacceptable.-that is the African democratic understanding.
4, Under western democracies, some people may be politicians while others are not, but this certainly an anomaly under African democracies as all citizens are essentially politicians.
I very recently read a disturbing article by Dick Nuwamanya Kamuganga entitled' can Africa learn From History?'
''beginning late 2007, a quiet force of massive negotiations and acquisitions of prime fertile land has rapidly spread across the continent. Close to 100 million hectares of agricultural land has been acquired by foreign governments, sovereign funds, foreign backed investment companies and foreign rich individuals.
Foreign states on this acquisition spree include: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, India,China, South Korea etc,all of which are currently potential or world major net food importers and Germany, U.K., Norway for bio-fuel farming. Overall motive is to secure stability of food, water, and energy supplies for their populations in the 21st century through 44,99,and 999 year[ ie. 2 to 34 generations] land leases in Africa. Africa has the cheapest chunks of arable land.
….The problem is; African governments clandestinely leasing chucks of agricultural land to foreign states to grow food for their domestic markets have a section of their populations massively and chronically suffering food shortages i.e. Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda,Zambia, Tanzania, Congo,mali, Sierra leone, Ghana, Sudan, Mozambique, Swaziland etc, and occasionally extend begging bowls to world for international food aid''
The question is, the decisions to lease these chucks of lands, do the various African governments doing them indeed have the express mandate of their peoples to do so beyond the elections that the average African is still a stranger to?
*Black Super state
Black people must establish a model a Black super state which must be run as an epitome of direct and ultra democratic state to set a stirring example for all African states to emulate. This recommended state should reinvent African direct democratic governance and demonstrate abundantly the superiority of indigenous black African democracy over and above the leprous electocracy being wickedly forced down the throat of African peoples.
*Conference of African Political Parties.
It is imperative that a conference of African political parties be convened to deliberate on the realities of governance in Africa and to find ways of returning the continent to the path of sanity.The western world has through the systems of government that it has forced upon African today put the whole continent in collective amnesia which has rendered the continent totally stultified to such an extent that it incapable of doing anything about its sorry state. Unless and until African return to through democratic governance there can be no salvation for her and her peoples.
''we believe that political organizations and governments in all African countries should be mobilized to act in furtherance of the objectives of the African Renaissance. Equally, the masses and their organizations in all African countries should similarly be mobilized and drawn into action. We must also pay attention to the intelligentsia, the professionals, the trade unions, business people, women and the youth, the traditional leaders, cultural workers, the media and so on, to bring them into the popular struggle for Africa's rebirth''….Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mbeki has lucidly pointed out the way in the above statement but the truth is only a rejection of the ill fitting and ill working electocratic system of government currently practiced and emulated throughout the length and breadth of Africa and replacement of same by a realistic and practical democratic system can get Africa out of the woods.
YAHAYA EZEEMOO NDU
AFRICAN RENAISSANCE PARTY[ARP],NIGERIA.