TOWARDS THE AFRICA 'WE WANT': RECONSTRUCTING GOVERNANCE.

Author:Chigudu, Daniel
Position::Report
 
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INTRODUCTION

Governance in Africa should be revamped in order to make the best out of the continent and this should be its strategic focus. Steiner (2008) notes that, the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stieglitz estimates that the carbon sequestration or "carbon-soaking" value of tropical forests-such as those in the Congo River Basin-possibly equals or exceeds the current level of international aid provided to emerging economies. The region ought to be prosperous economically and in terms of human development. Reality shows that it is not. Poor governance carries the biggest blame. The former United States president, in his official speech during his visit to Ghana in 2009 Barrack Obama, pointed fingers to lack of good governance as the reason for Africa's malady. The World Bank and European Union among other bodies have constantly called for the entrenchment of good governance principles in African states.

As a result, good governance has emerged as a major principle for judging the performance of African countries. For instance, the Mo Ibrahim index, the Bertelsmann Transformation Index and Corruption Perceptions Index depend on tenets of good governance. The indices present comparative progresses and retrogression of African countries based on good governance performances. While available data demonstrates that it is not all bad news, African governance may not automatically result in the institutionalization of sustainable good governance. May be, the issue at stake is not the battles but that poverty simply reflects on weak governance systems. Reconstructing the current trend of poor governance could be the only solution to Africa's development. This paper highlights the gaps on good governance (governance for reconstruction) in Africa and attempts to provide what is needed to fill the gaps for the Africa "we want agenda.

METHOD

Raadschelders (2011) has argued that, research is grounded on some fundamental philosophical traditions on what constitutes an authentic research. These philosophical assumptions do affect the selection of a method that would yield the essential knowledge for addressing the specific research topic. Therefore, the philosophy of a research is related to the sources and the development of knowledge to understand the phenomena of the world. It guides the research in formulating the research strategy, data collection and analysis (Holden & Lynch, 2004). To comprehend the interrelationship of the main components of the topic, a position of an interpretive approach with constructionist concerns is taken in this study. The topic requires taking up the independent meaning and interpretations behind governance in an African institutional context. The core of interpretivism, as part of epistemology, requires the researcher to interpret the subjective meaning of a social action (Bryman & Bell, 2011) unlike the objective view as in positivism, where emphasis is put on natural scientific research methods that focus on measurable facts to study social reality (Bryman & Bell, 2011). This study was informed in this regard by secondary data from research publications, interpreted to construct meaning for this paper.

AFRICA'S GOVERNANCE IN CONTEXT

Good governance attempts in Africa can be drawn from the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963. This is when the birth of Africa's independence campaign from the governance constructions put in place by the colonialists which placed restraints on the disposition of political power with the exception of a few settler elites were abolished. Although the OAU's primary objectives were based on promoting international cooperation, and due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the aim was a speedy decolonisation of Africa, the unity of the continent coupled with the defence of the territorial integrity of states. The obligation for freedom was rather silent on the need to promote good governance. This tactic gave rise to unitary states under one-party political systems managed by despotic leaders to which corruption, human rights violations and mismanagement became the order of the day.

TOWARDS THE AFRICA 'WE WANT': RECONSTRUCTING GOVERNANCE

Nyong'o (2009) argues that, conspicuous was the OAU's incapability to decisively deal with governments that dishonoured human rights quoting classic examples of: Jerry Rawlings of Ghana (especially between 1982 and 1992), Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya, Frederick Chiluba of Zambia, Macias Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, Kamuzu Banda of Malawi. These clamped down opposition elements, repressed press freedom and incarcerated dissenting citizens. Also, leaders like Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire, Moussa Traore in Mali and Houphouet-Boigny in Ivory Coast, were incorrigibly corrupt, amassing personal fortunes big enough to offset the entire external debts of their countries. These rulers were encircled by bootlickers and opportunists while governing countries as their private estates. The African Union (AU) substituted the OAU model after the European Union (EU) trying to redress the myriad challenges facing Africa through the agenda of a New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).

Good governance among some developed and developing economies is in a crisis. There is dwindling participation of the people in political and social participation and also a decline of confidence in governments in these economies. The stereotype fashioned is that Africa is a region that operates through an inverse logic of political condition and irrationality. It is where politics is about barefaced theft and a game of the belly, where political motion is of oscillation and retreat, rather than any advance or progress, and probably where the law of the jungle surrogates the dictates of the constitution (Thompson & Walsham, 2004; Ayatse et al., 2013). Governments that are democratic ought to have legality which gives them the authority and acceptance paving way for good governance. Up until the late 1980s, good governance issue has taken centre stage of the international discussion on international assistance to Africa. According to Wani (2014), by late 1990s the desire for justice and freedom, the entrenched autocratic establishments and political fall outs emanating from the structural adjustment programmes paved way for popular democratic struggles in Africa. Wani (2014) notes that, between 1996 and 2006, 44 elections were held in Sub-Saharan Africa and between 2005 and 2007, 26 presidential and 28...

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