Africa Map
Africa Map

African Democracy: Leadership without Opposition

  • 2017-09-06

I learned very early in life that “democracy” is government by the people. That is, a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections. The last two words, “free elections” is the bedrock of democracy and, unfortunately, the virus that destroys the fabric of African nationhood. Multiparty system is also an essential ingredient of democracy.

Democratic form of government seems to have been designed for the Greeks and the Romans and bequeathed to their grandchildren in Western Europe and North American now trying to exercise their claimed manifest destiny to impose democracy on all cultures. Today, due to international pressure, many countries profess democracy without practicing it. Africa is one part of the world, with elements of democracy, e.g. multiparty system and constitution outlining the credos of democracy without practicing it. African leaders embrace democracy, so long as there are no opposition to their leadership. The question, therefore, is whether there can be democracy without opposition? Is one party system of government democratic? Is Africa ripe for democracy as practiced in the West?

African leaders are struggling with democracy, especially when it comes to accommodating the voices of the opposition. The opposition leaders, on the other hand, most often tend to lack a sense of compromise, when it comes to the question of who is the best to run the government. Both the government in power and the opposition often forget that they are representatives of the people who elected them to take care of the business of the country for the benefit of the citizens. Lack of compromise has left the countries in alternating waves of optimism and pessimism about the future of these countries. Current political developments in many African countries are discomforting. The government in Gabon recently banned opposition leaders from travelling out of the country; in DRC the opposition leaders have called President Kabila to step down resulting in the arrest of and detention of the followers of the leaders of the opposition; in Angola four opposition parties called for a recount in last month's general election, alleging "irregularities" during the vote that kept the ruling party in power; in Kenya, the Supreme Court nullified the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta, to name but a few of political turmoil in African this year.

Let’s pray for Africa. Development and peace are forlorn hope without political stability. I have hope in Africa to overcome its problems. It is my Continent of the future. God bless Africa.