Does Africa need a new political systems consensus?
By Richard Mammah
Continuing and recent political developments in the continent of Africa suggest the need for a new political systems consensus based on fresh thinking in terms of how to govern the continent to address the issues of security, development and stability.
In Guinea, Mali, Chad, Sudan and now Burkina Faso, there have been clear situations of tension leading to disruptions in the governance order. Even in many other states in the continent where such disruptions have not come to the fore, they are clearly simmering. This is the situation in countries like Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal. There is the need for a clear adjustment of the political system to ensure that the people win.
One challenge has to do with the winner takes all matrix. In the pre- winner take all period in Zimbabwe and South Africa, there was a better governance environment.
We also need to push for more and more devolution of power. In Nigeria, the period between 1951 and 1960 when regional power devolution functioned to the exclusion of central power which was largely dominated by the British saw the people benefit. More power to communities and less concentration of hegemonistic power at the centre would be more like it.
As things stand now we have three contenders for power in the continent: ballot box politicians who win and are chiefly unaccountable thereafter, armed gangs (rebels, jihadists, etc) who bully their way into power when they find an opportunity and messianic soldiers who soon turn out to be drunken power mongers. We need to reshape the political order in such a way that all three dangerous component groups are not allowed to continue to get a way with murder. And the antidote for this writer is a loosening of the system in such a way that power and the management of resources is disaggregated and devolved in the hands of many small-holder governance groupings and formations that remain interdependent on each other in a mutually beneficial construct.
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa