Friday, October 21st, 2016
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Democracy and Development.

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Published on May 13, 2016 by admin   ·   No Comments

Power transfer in Africa: one lion will rule for a while ‘until another hungry lion comes along’ and, sadly, you are expecting change.

Can people get rich without freedom? And will richness lead to free society? These questions and many others has baffled many analysts such as political scientists, economist and among others. The orientalist argues economic liberalization and freedom are not intertwined and are different whilst the Occidentalist argues democracy and freedom is the gateway to development. But historical facts outweighs their opinionated analysis.

Autocrats often brings radical economic transformations compared to democrats. The bourgeois in Anglo-American nations rose under authoritarian regimes. There is no single country in the Global North that was democratic during their economic takeoff and transformations. A good example is Spain under Franco, who was a despot, he metamorphosed Spain from ‘’rural backwater into world eleventh largest industrial country’’.  China is another classical country that is undergoing explosive development under brutal regime and setting a new economic model which they term as ‘’Chinese model.’’

The governments and the people across the world don’t see democracy as development. According a global survey of no less than 750,000 people in 194 countries that was conducted by UN, the top five priorities for citizens across the world included health, education, and honest and responsive government. Democracy and good governance comes as priority number 24 out of 31.

The debate.

The link between democracy and development has been debated in the academic world. There are three camps in this debate, that’s; the democratic governance camp, development first and democracy later camp and the multipath camp.

The proponent of development first democracy later camp such as David Booth, Director of the Africa Power and Politics Programme and a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute in London, argues that the need for collective action and state efficiency rather than democracy. The barriers to growth in Africa, Booth further argues, are clientilistic political systems with problems of collective action.

Africa is forced to adopt the first camp, the demo camp, by their darling donors. The EU, World Bank, IMF and US gave aids according to how free the society is and this, for decades hasn’t changed economies of the countries in the Global South, in fact it has exacerbated inequality and poverty. It made Africa more dependent continent. Some will arguably say that the assistances offered by those institutions often serves the needs of the West.

The system or leaders? 

The transfer of power in Africa, whether through democratic process or otherwise, was once described as one lion ruling ‘until another hungry lion comes along’.

Politicians are devious individuals and the electorates often undermine the politicians’ power of deception. Most politicians knows the vox populi and the policies the electorate support and they used it to ascend power. They chant the mantra of development but do nothing when they get in the office.

There are very few African politicos who are committed to improve the lives of people, unfortunately since they don’t have the resource to compete for power they are often locked out simply because participating in a democratic process whether in Africa, Occident or Orient is expensive.

Many studies, which are undisputed,  shows that democratic system delivers better services but the performance of the system mainly depends leaders and the policies they uses.  Here is where the problem lies, the democratic process produces leaders whose mottos are Louis XV infamous quote, “apres moi le deluge”. If they were to eat then they do it effectively and empty the state or county coffer and tomorrow you are ready to elect them. The cycle goes on. Thanks to democracy it has made our lives a bowl of cherries.

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