‘The new model for African democracy’

“… This model of negotiations leading to a coalition government in the wake of a violence-plagued [December 2007] election [in Kenya] is being tried in Zimbabwe and has been recommended in Madagascar. The model is an inclusive one, and has been championed in some academic and political circles as the new model for African democracy. It is no such thing. These coalitions are the result of democratic failures, not successes. Throughout Africa, uniting belligerents under one roof has resulted in policymaking paralysis and resentful voters, angry that the governments they have are not the ones any of them elected.”

That’s the words of John Githongo–who served as Kenya’s Permanent Secretary of Governance and Ethics (in short its anti-corrruption czar) between 2003 and 2005 before he was forced into exile by President Mwai Kibaki’s government– writing in the latest issue of “Foreign Affairs” about recent developments in that country.

I just received the issue in the mail and really enjoyed reading Githongo’s article.  Among other things, he tackles the “myth of Kenyan exceptionalism,” its complacent and often reckless middle classes (implicated in aiding and abetting violent and zero sum ethnic politics) and the emergence of young people as a political factor (for better or worse and the government’s dangerous efforts to manage vigilante groups by bringing them under its [the government’s] control. Githongo also discusses the “heightened expectations and aspirations driven by the revolution in digital technology and mobile telephony and the spread of television and FM radio.”

Githongo ends by pleading for political leadership and suggests promoting “Kenyan nationhood” as the cure for his country’s ills.

You need a subscription to read it.

* The same issue–I am not sure if its “Africa month” over at Foreign Affairs (everybody is doing it because of the World Cup)–also  includes an article by Bob Rothberg on Zimbabwe.  I did not care much for this one.

Further Reading

The culture wars are a distraction

When our political parties only have recourse to the realm of identity and culture, it is a smokescreen for their lack of political legitimacy and programmatic content. It is cynically unpolitical, and it’s all bullshit.