Between Democracy And Development In Africa: What Are The Missing Links?
The last two decades of the 20th century witnessed renewed hope about the birth of democracy in Africa. The process was actively supported by all segments of society – labor, students, market women, rural dwellers, and the lumpen elements, who saw in it the prospects of reversing the trend of political despair and disillusionment that hitherto characterized political life in Africa. The orgy of political tyranny and dictatorship while having its own clientele and beneficiaries had negative and suffocating effects on the majority of the people. The political space was contrived, entrepreneurial creativity and ingenuity stifled, and the logic of difference, of social pluralism, cultural divergences and identities, suppressed. The opening up of the political space constitutes an uncompromisable part of the democratic agenda of the African people. The democratic aspiration of the African people is not only confined to the arena of political democracy (of elections, and granting of civil and political rights), but involves the demand for economic empowerment, better living standards, and adequate social welfare. Indeed, for the majority of the people, democracy is meaningful only when it delivers socio-economic goods. In other words, political democracy must be linked to socio-economic development. The deteriorating social welfare and living standards of the people in spite of the vote for democracy is gradually undermining the confidence of the people in the new democratic order. As a Nigerian petty trader aptly puts it; “Na democracy we go chop?”.
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