What does an African democracy involve and how different should it be from the Western democracy? Is it all about term limits? Many Western electoral observers come with their Western expectations of how democracy should function in a particular country and try to impose it. The question is, can respective African countries redefine democracy for themselves?
As we celebrate Africa Day and reflect on how far the continent has come since the Organisation of African Unity was founded in 1963, it’s a good time to assess whether democracy is working.
African governments are lagging behind in open data, and are keeping data locked away as citizens demand accountability a new Open Data Barometer report has revealed. The report gives a global snapshot of how governments are using open data for accountability, innovation and social impact. The report revealed that key accountability metrics such as government spending, elections, public contracts, company ownership and land ownership are among the least open and often poor quality. The report recommends that government-held data must be open by default and follow the principles set out in the Open Data Charter.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari (74) recently returned to the U.K. for medical treatment, his fourth visit to the U.K. for treatment since his election in 2015. In the same week Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (93), flew to Singapore for a “routine medical check-up”. Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos (74) has reportedly also been undergoing medical treatment in Spain. These cases have stirred debate around medical tourism. Health care systems in many African countries are inadequately funded. There are arguments that our African presidents need to lead by example, and ensure that healthcare systems in their countries improve to match or surpass the foreign countries they so much love to visit.
The year 2016 was full of surprises. The biggest ones (Brexit, Trump’s election, Jammeh’s exit) were delivered via the ballot box. Democracy may yet have more surprises in store for us in 2017. As the Director of the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute at the University of Gothenburg, few people on the planet study democracy and its effect more closely than Professor Staffan I. Lindberg. He spoke to Wycliffe Muga, a Kenyan journalist and political commentator, on what V-Dem’s work reveals about democracy in Africa, why people are now more open to “I can fix this” politicians and much more.
Ecowas vs SADC? Against the backdrop of the key role played by Ecowas in The Gambian crisis, which led to Yahyah Jameh eventually leaving office and going into exile, Takura Zhangazha makes a comparison of Ecowas and SADC, two very different African inter-state organizations.
From undemocratic laws to violence, Brendan Boyle explores how South Africa’s mine-hosting communities continue to be silenced by mining companies operating in the country’s former homelands.
Yahya Jammeh is an unpredictable character, and true to his reputation, the Gambian leader last week dropped a bombshell, which left Gambians and fellow Africans dumbfounded. Just over a week after making a shock concession after a convincing defeat by coalition leader Adama Barrow in the country’s presidential polls, Jammeh ordered fresh elections and declared that he will launch a legal challenge to contest his defeat. Many Africans on social media have condemned Jammeh’s about-turn, and the African Union (AU) and Ecowas amongst others have issued cautionary statements, criticizing Jammeh on the turn-about, urging the Gambian leader to respect the will of voters.
Today marks three years since former South African President Nelson Mandela passed away.