On March 20, 2023, Africa witnessed a wave of opposition protests in Kenya, South Africa, the Gambia, Senegal and Tunisia among other countries. In Guinea, the coalition of civil society groups cancelled the protest in Conakry which has now been planned for March 20, 2023.
This begs a number of questions including whether it is by coincidence, or a wave that might sweep across Africa. If yes, what does it depict about the democratization process on the continent? Are these protests being used by the opposition leaders to gain political capital ahead of the next elections? What explains these protests?
In Kenya, opposition leader Raila Amolo Odinga of the Azimio la Umoja political coalition, announced March 20, 2023 as the beginning of protests to ‘resist’ what he calls a high cost of living which he blames on government lethargy. Raila’s ultimate aim is to get a million Kenyans match into state house and dethrone current president William Ruto.
In South Africa, the leftwing opposition leader, Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Party, launched strikes and rallies under heavy security on March 20, 2023 in a bid to force out President Cyril Ramaphosa over his handling of the country’s sickly economy and crippling energy crisis. Malema is also decrying the high unemployment rates amongst the youth and the extended electricity shortages.
In Tunisia, protesters are criticizing the “coup-like” actions of President Kais Saied who in 2021 shut down the elected parliament and replaced the government before moving to rule by decree and rewriting the constitution. Saied was elected in 2019, and has denied mounting a coup, saying his actions were legal and necessary to save Tunisia from years of chaos, and has denounced his opponents as traitors, criminals and terrorists.
In Senegal, protesters are irked by the deliberate move of incumbent President, Macky Sall of eyeing a third term in office ahead of the 2024 elections. Protestors are also calling for the release of journalist Pape Ndiaye of the privately owned media house Walf TV who was arrested on March 3, 2023 and remains imprisoned while awaiting trial. Ndiaye’s arrest and imprisonment followed comments he made on a controversial court case involving public figure, politician and presidential candidate Ousmane Sonko.
Though Senegal has traditionally been considered as having a relatively strong democracy and protections for press freedom in West Africa, a recent series of arrests and attacks on journalists have called that into question.
In Gambia, the political opposition is riled by the runaway corruption and pilferage of public resources what is derailing the country’s economic recovery. Several corruption allegations have reported about government institutions and other local government councils.
In Guinea, protesters are denouncing the ongoing transition period, demand the liberation of imprisoned FNDC members, and the immediate lifting of a ban on demonstrations. The Coalition of civil society groups which is championing this protest, postponed it but has not ruled it out.
This wave of opposition and citizen protests point to the fact democratic deficits that must be addressed in Africa. Perhaps this can also be a conversation at the second Summit for Democracy convening in Lusaka, Zambia on March 29-30, 2023.
What is required for the saints to rebuild the altar of God and offer their lives as fresh sacrifices?
There has to be an understanding of the times and seasons, a recognition of patterns, and an anticipation of what wants to unfold. Some may choose to water down the gospel in an effort to please all comers; but participating in a vanguard would involve unashamedly
choosing to please the Master. This entails refusing to manipulate or adulterate the Scriptures, even if those who choose otherwise find occasion to deride such refusal.
The second Summit for Democracy is now fully behind us. As pro-democracy actors get down to fashion and shape their post-summit engagements, Secrets Known takes time to reflect on some of the takeaways.
The subject of political finance is gaining traction and attention in Africa. Governments, citizens, and other key stakeholders are beginning to appreciate that unregulated political party and campaign financing is one of the fundamental problems of democracy in Africa. The too much money that flows in politics in African countries is creating “government of the rich, for the rich, and by the rich” at the expense of the cardinal democratic principal of inclusion.
Democracy is about citizen inclusion. There cannot be democracy if half the population is excluded from participating in democratic processes as voters, candidates, political commentators, domestic observers, polling agents, etc. Citizens are the harbinger of democracy. Democratic renewal must be an everyday activity.
African countries must build functioning and effective state systems that can support democracy. Unfortunately, most states in Africa are fragile, they are absent from the lives of their citizens in the welfare sense. When their citizens become active and demand better services, the governments/regimes that manage the state get the feeling that their very survival is under threat, hence often responding with over-the-top actions. This is why.
Poor-quality elections in Africa are threat multipliers to the tenets of democracy. Undemocratic elections in Africa threaten freedoms of speech, expression, association, and assembly.
Africans must generate consensus about the bigger national goal or agenda that should be achieved through elections. Democracy must be reconciled with the bigger national socio-economic development goals. Many more people can get out of poverty under democracy than under autocracy. This is because autocracy concentrates economic power in the hands of regime cronies and supporters.
African governments must find ways to ensure that young people can participate,
speak and be heard, engage, and use their creative energies for the good of their countries and the continent in general, and also to ensure their presence at the decision-making table. Governments must facilitate their effective participation in democratic processes. Africa will benefit immensely by capitalizing on the democratic dividend of a growing youthful population.
Media-related threats have no future in a democratic Africa. African governments must increase media freedom, safety and security for journalists in their respective jurisdictions. African leaders must also promote open and safe digital spaces and governance devoid of internet shutdowns, cyber censorship, attacks, misinformation, and disinformation
The span from the beginning of time to its consummation is comprised of times that are both sequential and overlapping, so that the times in which we live are connected to the times in which our predecessors lived and the times in which our descendants will live. This is the biblical sense of the times: the term speaks to the present as well as to what preceded and follows it.
The times are about more than time itself. Wrapped into the times are the conditions we experience and the dynamic outcomes that our decisions make possible. Despite popular ideas about God’s sovereignty, being in God’s will does not mean responding robotically to Him. Many futures are possible in the unfolding of the divine will. As the American theologian and semiotician Dr. Leonard Sweet, says, “No one discovers the future. The future is not a discovery.
The future is not a destiny.
The future is a decision, an intervention.…The future is a function of our choices and creations.”
In anticipating future scenarios, four categories are typically considered:
(1) the possible,
(2) the probable,
(3) the preferable, and
(4) the plausible.
The possible future is the broadest, least constricted category, which includes anything that might happen. Probable futures are discovered analytically, by studying causal factors and events. Preferred future states are those you want to see happen. (This assumes that you can influence the future and make choices that would support your preference.) The optional category of plausible futures narrows the range of future states in the possible category by isolating outcomes that appear to be valid based on what is already known.