Africa has experienced various types and systems of government which one can term as not o productive in style, pattern and model of governance. While it is a known fact that the military system of government was draconian and counter-productive, the so called “civilian” dispensation has also not fared any better. This has been largely due to a number of factors which this work will look into.
The mode of governance in Africa has come under serious scrutiny from the International community in the last two to three decades for its insensitivity to the plights of its people as well as the growing or increased poverty ravaging the continent. While it is important to have a viable mode of governance that will guarantee the transformation of African nations from third world to developed nations, it is obvious that good political leadership is lacking. When there is no shepherd to lead the sheep, the sheep go astray. What is lacking in Africa is “BAD LEADERSHIP AND ALSO BAD FOLLOWER-SHIP”.
Democracy: Paper Work and Practice In African Context
The concept of democracy from its proper context includes servant leadership and the freedom of the electorate to demand accountability from the leaders when they are found wanting in accordance with due process and in line with the constitution. democracy thus is not limited to freedom of rights, free and fair election. Indeed the concept of democracy is hinged on two critical concepts of Transparency and Accountability. Many African leaders are not accountable and transparent in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities. what they are more concerned about is self interest and using the resources of the nation to enrich a few of its political caucus and party chieftains.
Democracy also entails inclusiveness in political participation. one party system is detrimental to the actualization, practice and entrenchment of democracy in Africa, the likes of Mubutu Sese Seko comes to mind. The one party system has proved on countless instances to be counter- productive. it is too direct, irrational, draconian and does not give room for the devolution or separation of powers. And has given rise to the half-hazard practice of federalism. the one party system also encourages dominance of just a party and it also includes the practice of ethnic politics. What this does is segregate and marginalize other ethnic groups that form the rest of the whole nation from expressing their fundamental right to vote and participate in political activities.
Corruption has eaten deep into the polity. Political office holders continue to abuse the seat of governance by plundering on the wealth of the nation. Mismanagement of funds has accounted for continuous deterioration in infrastructure, quality of life, quality of health etc. One should ask the reason why Africa has a high number of corrupt and undemocratic leaders. It is because the moral values of honesty and humility has faded away. What is prevalent are leaders who do not feel indebted to their followers. While corruption is a global issue and not peculiar to Africa, it is however unfortunate that poor governance a regular trend in Sub-Saharan Africa. A 2002 African Union study estimates that corruption cost the continent a roughly $150 billion a year. The prevalent corruption also warps the political process. Experts say many public officials in Africa seek re-election because holding offices gives them access to the state’s coffers, as well as immunity from prosecution. When the stakes for remaining in office are so high, candidates are more likely to buy votes or rig an election.
Weak Public Opinion
It is the duty of the masses to demand for purposeful leadership that is capable of meeting their needs. the researcher is of the view that a number of citizens are ignorant of political issues and happenings in their environment. An enlightened public would best have its interest considered before any other thing is giving preference. This is why public opinion is not respected or put into consideration by policy makers. And this has resulted in the lopsided outcomes of decisions and executions of public policy. Citizens have to raise their voices against bad leadership not only because it is their right but also for the betterment of the future generations.
The following are the options for African governments in order to ensure good governance and serve as anti-corruption measures:
Creating Non-Partisan anti-corruption Agencies
According to a 2005 survey by the the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa only two countries; Namibia and Malawi has watch dog groups that were deemed effective by experts. in all but a few cases, experts said these groups were not independent form the executive branch. but in some countries including Nigeria, they have had some measures of success. Under Nuhu Ribadu, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recovered $5 billion in stolen public funds and secured 250 convictions. in addition it helped pass laws that mandated competitive bidding on government contracts and public audits of the oil revenues sent to state governments.
Strengthening existing Institutions
Institutional weaknesses facilitate corruption, particularly imbalances between a strong executive branch and weak legislature and judiciary, experts say. “rather than dreaming up short cuts, donors should be pouring their money into the boring old institutions African regimes have deliberately starved of funds over the years; the police force, the judicial system and civil service “, writes Journalist Wrong. Economist Collier recommends that government ministries overhaul their methods of disbursing funds . In his book Wars, Arms, and Votes , he suggests separating policy making, allocation of money to specific development activities whether health services, road building or schooling, and the supply of such activities. ministries should be responsible for overall policy only, and a “linking agency” should disburse money on the government’s behalf to appropriate suppliers, whether NGOs, churches, or philanthropists. collier and others also stress the importance of a strong and free press.
Reducing Dependency on Foreign Aid
A few economists, such as Dambisa Moyo, argue that African governments should cut-off foreign aid completely. By encouraging accountability to donors instead of citizens, foreign aid encourages graft and breaks the fundamental relationship between a state and its people, she argues. For instance the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Sierra Leone, which are on Transparency International’s top ten corruption list, receive hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. Some say reducing non-humanitarian aid would force African governments to up tax revenues, increasing accountability at the local level.
African Governments must ensure free and fair elections and also institute legislation and policies that allow for open participation in politics. No one should be sidelined as a result of his/her ethnic background. Institution checks and balances should be effective in order to reduce corrupt practices at all levels of government. The anti-graft agencies should be non-partisan and allowed to operate independent of the executive arm of government.
The establishment of the African Peer Review Mechanism as a self monitoring initiative if well supported by African leaders would help identify the challenges and problems of African nations as well as recommending viable solutions to socio-economic and sustainable development hinged upon the principle of good governance. It is hoped that this initiative will bring about the needed results, which is effectiveness in governance and corresponding positive outcomes.
Stephanie Hanson, Corruption In Sub-Saharan Africa, August 6, 2009, http://www.cfr.org/africa-sub-saharan/corruption-sub-saharan-africa/p19984
Itoro Akpan, Nigerian Political Leaders, February 23, 2012, http://www.nigeriaintel.com/2012/02/23/nigerian-political-leaders-a-culture-of-corruption-and-failed-promises/