Dealing with Africa’s autocratic regimes


africaThere have been concerns that democratization is not happening fast enough in Africa, but Julia Leininger, an expert on African Politics from the German Development Institute (Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik) says there is plenty of evidence of democracy in action at the grassroots level, Deutsche Welle reports:

“You find a lot of practices in the sense that people discuss things a lot in order to get to conclusions and joint decisions. There is a lot of what we call vertical accountabilities,” she said. But she agrees there is still a long way to go….

Gyimah-Boadi-E-Forum-Research-Council-195x121Africans do not support extended presidential terms, Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi [right], the executive director at Ghana Center for Democratic Development [a grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy], told DW:

These are the findings of Afro-barometer, a pan-African, research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions…..

“Africans do prefer democracy to any other form of government. We asked them about elections. Sometimes elections bring too many problems so may be we shouldn’t have elections, They said no. As many as 8 in 10 Africans consistently say they want to have multiparty elections,” he said……

Supporters of autocratic regimes point to the case of President Kagame’s Rwanda, which they say has made big strides in economic, social and environmental development. Is autocratic government not a viable model after all? DW asks.

Gyimah-Boadi [a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Democracy] vehemently challenges this assertion. One should not forget, he said, that autocratic rule was the norm in Africa from 1960 until at least 1990. “Now why is it that 30 years of authoritarian and autocratic rule in Africa did not produce the kind of developments we are seeing in Rwanda?” The experience of one country cannot be allowed to override that gleaned by 52 countries, he said.


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