Tuesday, March 8, 2016

ARTICLE: Episode #64 Season 3, Ep.20: “Influencing decision-making at the top in East Africa has to do with compromises among elites” – Governance Expert

Episode #64
Season 3, Ep.20:
“Influencing decision-making at the top in East Africa has to do with compromises among elites” – Governance Expert

ACCRA, Ghana – Governance Expert, Mark Amaliya, believes “the elections [that have] taken place in Uganda...is an example of how not to conduct elections.”

Speaking to E.K.Bensah Jr on the “Africa in Focus Show”, which reprised AfroDemocracy for the last time in Season 3, Amaliya adds that, the take-away for Ghana is that “there are certain basic freedoms that we take for granted – the liberal media waves that we have; the dearth of critical reflections that go on in platforms such as social media; the alternative mindsets and perspectives that groups and individuals who are willing to discuss issues of the nation bring to bear – inform how we approach and hold our leaders accountable.”

He believes these are the things “we must guard jealously, because these have now proven, as in the case of Uganda, to be real constraints for rulers.” He feels were these freedoms to be raised as a national security concern, “then it means that countries that have the opportunity and citizens that have the opportunity...should use these platforms for the right purposes, while remembering the potential of these platforms exerting influence on governments.”

In Amaliya’s view, “it is significant to understand” that the Ugandan election “was not just an election, but a contest against the status quo.” He avers it was difficult to imagine change “without strong resistance.”

Quizzed by Bensah as to whether it was not expected that Museveni would win – for the mere fact he had been in power for so long – Amaliya tried to situate his response in the context of the region, by explaining that, East Africa is a region where good governance is “unique” in these sense that, apart from the fragile states, such as Somalia, that are part of the region, one even has countries, such as Kenya, which legitimacy was tested back in 2007; Rwanda’s Kagame who is a “known, historical ally of Museveni”. In short: powerful states, such as Kenya and Rwanda that have all helped shape the uniqueness of the region, and probably negated any decision for them to condemn the elections in Uganda!

Worrying for Amaliya is his view that “East Africa still has to deal a lot with questions regarding how the political will in the region – the gap between elite rulers and legitimate concerns of citizens in those countries. The fact that influencing decision-making at the top in East Africa – considerably has to do with compromises among the elites.” He laments how the fact that “independent-minded bodies like the UN, and even the African Union, would really only have to come second and third-place to these elite networks raises very serious concerns about democracy in East Africa.”

The “Africa in Focus” Show is hosted by Emmanuel.K.Bensah Jr from 14h05 to 15h00 every Wednesday. You can download all podcasts from www.africainfocusradioshow.org . Follow the conversation on twitter on @africainfocus14 , using #africainfocus

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