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Is Democracy for Africa?

Ugandan legislators come down to fistfights, Sudan is taken over by the military, Nigeria accuses its leadership for attacking its youth; it's clear African countries aren't reading the democratic memo.

RIDICULOUS is not enough a word for us to describe the video below, showing members of their National Assembly ran amok punching, shoving, slapping, and throwing harmful objects at one another inside the legislative chamber meant for orderly deliberations on the laws of Uganda.


These men and women were supposed to be custodians of existing laws and proponents of new laws which will help maintain order in Uganda. Contrary to their duty, these custodians of law and order brought lawlessness and chaos to their sacred chamber instead. The hilariously embarrassing video of the brawl in the Ugandan assembly is representative of how a number of African countries have woefully failed to operate on democratic principles.

This lack of tolerance and dignity is not limited to the legislature of Uganda though. The legislature in Nigeria is slightly different. Although more elections are being held in Nigerian, many of them can easily be dismissed as being not free or fair. The masses want to live in a democratic state, but a number of people are already doubting if we can really get democracy right after half a century of failures. 

Nic Cheeseman, a Professor of Democracy at Birmingham University, recognised Nigeria as one of the many "defective democracies" on the African continent after a three-year study before 2019. Professor Cheeseman could not be more correct. The same regime he observed prior to the 2019 elections continued after the election and gave birth to the embarrassing #EndSARS incident —something that should never happen in a democracy. 

Nigerians, and other Africans, want to live in a free society where their rights would be assured and their dignity would be preserved. Africans want the dividends of democracy, not these multiple layers of corruption and impunity. They want transparency and progressive economies. 

If all we can manage is a faulty democratic system, maybe it's time to dump it all and concoct a new system of government that works. Some Nigerians have actually proposed non-liberal democratic models and African-communist systems for the sake of national development. 

An African China or Russian is a terrible idea right off the bat, but autocratic rule might not be such a bad idea if only a trusted leader is in charge and checks against totalitarianism are placed on the government. 

Rwanda is one of the few African countries that is actually tracking its progress, but that country isn't run on what you would call a democracy in the real sense of the word. Rwanda's President Paul Kagame is an example of a leader who is running an effective and efficient government that is unencumbered by democratic structures. He has eliminated all features of a democratic system which may make government decisions slow and rigid.

President Kagame has managed to achieve economic development in his country but there are still some risks involved in Kagame's Rwandan system of government. 

When the governing party extends its control over the country's economy, as is obtainable in Rwanda, this more likely is going to increase corruption and waste of resources in Nigeria or Uganda where the politicians are notoriously inclined to graft. 

This means that before other countries on the African continent try to implement the Rwandan model, the current crop of African politicians must be flushed out and a new generation of leaders with a sense of duty to their nation must be installed. 

This brings us back to the question "Is democracy working for Africa?" because it is only a democratic system that can guarantee a new generation of responsible and responsive leaders. 

Of course, Uganda isn't really a democratic state when their president is trying to stay for a sixth term in office and his citizens are displeased; Nigeria is a defective democracy since its leadership refuses to be answerable to its own citizens. But the fact that democracy is failing does not mean that it cannot work, we have to make it work. 

Most Africans still prefer and support a democratic government but, to guarantee the dividends of living in democratic societies, we have to participate in our own government and ensure it is accountable. We have to ensure that our representatives are working in the interest of the country and not literally fighting for personal gain. Or what interest of the country should ever result in a royal rumble among the leaders to the amusement of the led?