Politics of Wednesday, 16 December 2015
African voters are enthusiastic about democratic rule but find it very difficult to compel governments to change the trajectory of growth in the direction of socially inclusive developmental outcomes.
Dr Yusuf Bangura, former Research Coordinator, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), who made the observation, said much progress could be made in overcoming inequalities and deficits, if African parties could be transformed into developmental agent of change.
He was speaking at a lecture to mark the 15th anniversary celebrations of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) on the theme: “Overcoming inequalities and gaps in democratic governance: What role for political parties in Africa”.
Dr Bangura identified three gaps in the democratic governance in Africa; the first being related to problem of consolidating the democratic rules of the game.
This, he said, meant the organisation of credible elections; respect for constitutions; and acceptance of the right of organisation, contestation and expression which is becoming a troubling development.
The second gap in democratic governance is the failure of key branches of government such as Parliament, Judiciary and other independent agencies to hold the executive into account.
According to him, the third problem deals with the dangers of a bifurcated electorates especially in countries that are ethically polarised.
“In a bifurcated electorates, Voters exhibit less flexibility in relating to parties that do not derive their core votes from their ethnic regions and you know the votes will lose its significance in rewarding candidates,” he said.
Dr Bangura said political parties in Africa must resolve internal conflicts and conflicts between them and be organised democratically.
Professor Akilagpa Sawyerr, member, IDEG’s Council of Trustees (IDEG-COT), indicated that over the past few years, there had been much public attention about next year’s election and the lessons from the 2012 election and its aftermath.
He said recent disturbing trends within the political process “within parties, between parties, among parties, all of these things have engaged our attention in the past year.”
“It increases anxiety about the coming elections especially in the matter of security and as result many voices and messages have been focused on ensuring peaceful elections; and the concerns raised must be duly addressed hence the evening lecture to celebrate IDEG 15th Anniversary,” he said.
As part of the activities marking the anniversary, Prof Emmanuel Asante, the Chairman of the National Peace Council, and Prof Florence Dolphyne, IDEG-COT Chair, jointly unveiled the plaque of the IDEG Head Office Complex