Democracy Still An Issue In Africa

Pierre Nkurunziza - has won a 3rd term amidst violence in Burundi
Pierre Nkurunziza – has won a 3rd term amidst violence (Pic-BBC)

Many African countries struggled to get independence from the colonial rule and although many countries now have democratic system of government that gives people power to elect leaders of their choice, it seems that democracy is still an issue in Africa.

There are several factors that can be attributed to the point which has been raised; one being incumbent leaders refusing to leave office when their term of office expires. Instead, they opt to extend their term of office by attempting to stand fora  third term or beyond like the way the current Burundian leader Pierre Nkurunziza has done during the just ended elections.

The Burundian case is not a new one as it has also happened in other countries like Malawi, though it failed, Zimbabwe and more recently Rwanda where incumbent leader Paul Kagame also want to stand for a third term of office.

Bakili Muluzi – attempted to stand for a 3rd term in Malawi

Most elections in Africa are marred by violence, intimidation among politicians and irregularities although they are surprisingly described as free and fair by the international observers and other local observers.

When they are first elected, political leaders promise to defend the constitution and uphold the rule of law but there have been cases where these politicians become the first people to find ways and means of circumventing clauses of their constitutions.

According to the article written by Solomon T Ebobrah in Malawi Law Journal Volume 1, issue November 2007 on Evaluation of the African Chapter on Democracy , Election and Governance, the difficulty in sustaining democracy in African states can partly be attributed to a lack of democratic culture and values in our colonial history.

The conditions that existed at independence seemed to have projected certain individuals (and in some cases certain groups) over others so that those who felt disadvantaged often resort to violence in the settlement of disputes.

There have been situations whereby the incumbent leaders in Africa have failed to honour decisions made by the courts in Africa just because they were not in their favour.

Democracy, the rule of law and human rights still remains a challenge in Africa unless we change our culture and attitude and it will take some time for Africa to have democracies like that of United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK).

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