A group of leaders and scholars in Africa is making a case for the sustainability of democracy in Africa.
The group has published a book that reviews the continent’s governance system. It was launched in Ghana’s capital Accra on Monday.
The book titled, Democracy Works: Rewiring Politics to Africa’s Advantage was written by prominent personalities like former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and former finance minister of Zimbabwe, Tendai Biti.
The authors argue that Africa could have achieved much economic success had many countries promoted and built strong democratic governance systems.
Ghana’s vice president, Dr. Muhamadu Bawumia who launched the book detailed how it provides lessons to enhance democracy in Africa.
The book “discusses the possible virtues of a democratic rule by reviewing cases where attention to popular preferences in the establishment of countervailing institutions have allowed for construction economic policy development,” Bawumia said.
He also revealed that the book “analyses the challenges to constructing African democracy in different transitional circumstances and examines how elections can be made more free and fair.”
Celebrating democracy in Africa
Former Nigerian President Obasanjo says the reason for writing the book was not just to find fault with current modules and governance systems in Africa.
He says there is enough reason to celebrate the continent’s progress so far in adopting democratic tendencies, making elections now regular exercises to pick leaders.
“Thirty years ago to have election in any country in Africa will be almost a miracle. Whereas today, not to have election in any country will be unacceptable.
So we should not underrate what we have achieved. I say that a disputed election result which is resolved in a court of law is better than no election at all,” Obasanjo said.
Elections are not enough
Elections continue to be held across Africa with disputed results in many instances, resulting in violence.
Professor Greg Mills of the Brenthurst Foundation in South Africa who is also among the list of authors says elections are not enough to deepen democratic systems in Africa, but having citizens that hold their leaders accountable is crucial.
“I think citizens have to keep people honest, I think we have been little bit too apathetic in Africa, I think we let politicians get away with stuff too much,” he said.
He adds that Africans “are too easily played between different constituent elements, around race, around religion, around ethnic differences for example, about regional differences. We probably need to become more assertive.”
The celebrated Africanist Jeffrey Herbst, is also one of the authors of the book. The forward was written by former Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
It is the hope of the authors that young Africans who represent the future of the continent would be inspired to get actively involved in Africa’s democracy.