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Good Governance is All Africa Requires

Facing head on, poor governance, the epicentre of Africa’s problems is the responsibility of all patriots; we need to be honest about the source of our problems, that is the most patriotic thing to do. Good governance is more than a goal in itself; it is a pre-requisite for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development, and building a strong, competitive, and reliable international economic and political partner. To benefit from good governance, African citizenry needs to co-create it so that institutions truly reflect its identity and are not just an outcome of anecdotal foreign imported ideas.

In dealing with our problems honesty will be the first step; it is important to recognise and acknowledge what we are dealing with, and that post-colonial Africa is fast descending into chaos; we are dealing with crooks in power; Africa is a continent suffering from an erosion of transparency, independence, and accountability.

Contrary to what some local nationalists will have us believe, good governance is a universal value, and not about the West trying to impose its standards on Africa; a call for good governance is not an inference to Africans being barbaric but an honest observation that we have allowed our moral standards to sink too low for the safety of our citizens, and good governance would allow Africans to keep their governments in check.

Truth be told, Africa today does not play by the rules, it is a dog eat dog environment; a once moral people no longer subscribe to decent moral standards because it does not pay anymore to be honest; we have States led by criminal gangs who facilitate criminal activity with impunity; local security departments are purposely underfunded, ill-equipped and left ineffective to fight any sort of crime thus, allow criminal gangs in government to evade detection.  

Outsourcing of security responsibility has become the norm; security duties are subcontracted to foreign companies or local youth gangs funded by rich politicians and the elite; we have Russian the Wagner Group assuming security roles in some African states while locals are pushed to the margins.

Quite frankly, in the longer term it is more damaging than beneficial to privatise and gift the continent’s sensitive public institutions to foreigners and private entities; this is often a step taken without due diligence by powerful politicians for personal and not public interest. Foreigners may have the expertise and resources, but they lack valuable local cultural understanding and connectivity.  

We must stop minimising internal causes of failure; as a new beginning, stop pointing fingers everywhere when it comes to our problems and accept the single most important hindrance to progress in Africa is weak government institutions in the continent, and only Africa, which also happens to be the author of the problem, can address that.

Poor governance is the huge monster in the room that no one has shown genuine desire to fight off. People must understand that fighting poor governance is self-defence; evidence shows good governance is central to fighting corruption, protecting our freedoms and liberties, and protecting the continent’s vast reserves of natural resources from predators – local and international; even more important, good governance is essential for building a competitive Africa.

Good governance does not happen to a people, but the public actively co-creates it. We have experienced the disastrous impact of allowing unprincipled men and women to lead the continent; corruption and thuggery become acceptable, and perpetrators do not only go unpunished, but they are also rewarded. Lack of public motivation and lack of trust in politicians and politics is evident across the continent where young people cannot wait to go abroad for a ‘better life’.

We must build back trust in our systems for communities to believe the future holds a better version of the present. Let us purposefully revisit the core foundations of our social moral standards; let us foster in our communities and the electorate, an appetite for leaders and leadership committed to respectful conduct.

Power reconfiguration between the electorate and representatives is essential for democracy to work; political leaders are no gods to be worshipped and immortalised but in service to the public; they represent public interest to government and not government interest to the electorate.

Sound oversight is required so that the public is not exposed to unscrupulous and underhanded politicians and public servants who propagate activities that might harm the environment or take advantage of the unsuspecting public or threaten to bring down the entire government service delivery system.

In conclusion, we emphasise that Africa’s problem is Africa; major cracks within the continent contribute to its failures. The public has long abdicated its role as overseers of state activities and allowed the state to be too powerful to control yet too disenfranchised to govern effectively. Weak government institutions may not be exclusive to Africa, but we are not in the business of demanding less from ourselves, there is no reward for those who walk away from challenge; lacking a functional state that assures basic social goods taken for granted elsewhere should no longer be an acceptable stance. We shall have nothing but contempt for the kind of leaders or leadership that, for whatever reason, is afraid to follow the course that it is fully aware is best for the continent.



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