About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

08 November 2016

Governance in Africa

The Economist Newspaper's podcast this week features an interview with Mo Ibrahim on governance in Africa. Given the past week's events in South Africa, there is understandably some specific focus on Jacob Zuma; but the interview as a whole brings forward some very interesting discussion points.

Firstly, there is the role of the liberation struggle parties. Across post colonial countries in general, and in Africa specifically, liberation parties have often gone on to erode the trust of the people they liberated; and in some respects become the new oppressor. Mo Ibrahim's critique centred around the recent events in South Africa; but also drew comparisons to other countries such as Zimbabwe that also failed to make transitions - and the transition was not necessarily to another party; but rather the liberation party transitioning to a proper political party that has to deliver and govern the country (and is therefore not dependent on its history of liberation).

The second related point was on institutions. South Africa can manage the discourse around state capture because there are strong institutions to support the rule of law - most other countries in Africa, do not have the luxury. He specifically noted his own homeland of Sudan (and South Sudan) as failed states amongst the many countries in Africa that is struggling.

The highlight for me however was the discussion on migration. The number of migrants that manage to even get to the European sea or land crossings are tiny in comparison to the internal displacement within Africa. He called out the xenophobia within Europe and that ultimately, without addressing the underlying problems of migration and the hypocrisy of Europe's attitude to migration; he does not see lasting development in Africa. 

The podcast is a rare occasion where the issue of migration has been tacked so eloquently and so directly. In addition, it highlights some of the real challenges to improving governance - and to paraphrase the beginning; good governance is not about democracy; it also includes whether citizens are safe, have good nutrition, have access to jobs, education and healthcare. Governance improvements in Africa has stagnated and there is a long way to go.

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