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17.09.2008 Feature Article

Let The Zimbabwe Experience Be The Last In Africa.

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Most African countries embraced multiparty democracy in the Late 80's.The clamour for multiparty democracy at that time could largely be attributed to the end of the cold war and also political and economic reforms introduced by western donors and the Bretton woods institutions for African countries.

Multiparty democracy has led to improvement in governance in Africa. The media is enjoying a lot more freedom and citizens are holding their leaders accountable. The role of national and international NGO's is also commendable.

The concept of multiparty democracy has revealed a lot of challenges that African nations face, these challenges is largely attributed to the earlier struggle for independence by African states. During the struggle, most African countries led by freedom fighters had to fight the imperialist west with the support of its kinsmen, even though there were some internal resistances, most of these freedom fighters emerged victorious. These freedom fighters assumed leadership of their various countries and were worshipped and idolized by their fellow countrymen. This made some of them to hold on to power for a very long time.

One major problem about the practice of multiparty democracy in Africa is the abuse of incumbency. This problem has made it impossible for opposition parties to compete with incumbent governments on a level playing field. The issue of allegiance of bureaucrats to a party in power rather than the government and the fear of public servants losing their jobs has also resulted in institutional failures. Most bureaucrats prefer to be at the beck and call of ruling parties instead of performing their jobs professionally and impartially. In situations where opposition parties have brace all odds and won elections, the Electoral Commission fails to declare them as winners or tries to rig the election for the incumbent government, in some cases the sitting government refuses to hand over power, it rather uses the police and the other security agencies to intimidate and kill its own citizens who call for fair play and justice. This is evident in elections held in Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

The alternative that African governments have found to these apology of elections is power sharing, this kind of situation does not put the continent in a positive limelight. It has rather made a mockery of African leaders and institutions like AU, ECOWAS, SADC etc. Power sharing governments can be traced to countries engaged in civil wars in Africa. Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Cote d' Ivoire are a few of such countries. Why should nascent democracies begin to learn such negative concepts? The power sharing trend if not checked would become the norm in Africa and the probability of military interventions in most of these situation would be very high. If it happens this way our continent would move back towards the dark ages.

It is on this note that I found the call for all stakeholders to help purge the bloated voters register by the Electoral Commissioner as a welcome news. The NDC and its flag bearer caution the EC earlier on this issue but some of the private media and other political parties misrepresented what they said and accused them of beating war drums. The facts are out now. I hope this time around those who accuse the NDC of war mongering are going to collaborate with the stakeholders to clean the register. We need a credible voters register for the December elections.

The power sharing government phenomenon is enough; let that of Zimbabwe be the last on the African continent. Ghanaians would not accept that kind of system.

We had a smooth transition in 2000 where a President with all his military experience who some cynics thought would hung on to power or influence elections to his party's favour proved them wrong and acted as a true statesman. He handed over power peacefully to our current President. We expect the same smooth transition come 7th January 2009.

Mustapha Jimah

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Mustapha Jimah
Mustapha Jimah, © 2008

The author has 25 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: MustaphaJimah

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