Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – Pan African activists and leading experts, including academics, who were meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for a one-day, high-level roundtable that provoked debate on democracy, governance and Pan-African idea in honour of the late Pan-African civil activist, Tajudeen Abdul Raheem of Nigeria, have been challenged to strive for a “bottom-up, people-to-people integration” against “a top-down, state-to-state integration” project.
Dr. Khabele Matlosa, programme advisor at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), who spoke Thursday in his personal capacity said if the roundtable was to give a befitting tribute to Raheem (popularly known as Taju) and his immense legacy, Africa should strive for a bottom-up, people-to-people integration which Taju aspired for all his life.
Matlosa said political parties would do better as key agents of democratisation to play a meaningful role in promoting a people-driven and human-centered integration in Africa.
He noted that even where avenues existed for sub-regional and continental parliaments to exist and ensure accountability of executives within inter-governmental bodies, they are either margianilised and not recognised as with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum “or tamed thereby becoming toothless bull-dogs as in the case of the Pan-African Parliament.”
“ ‘Formal’ regional integration in Africa is tantamount to a convenient club of ruling parties held together by bonds of solidarity,” Matlosa told participants who all paid tribute to Taju who fearlessly championed democratic rights in Africa. Taju died on 25 May, 2009.
The discussion was organised by the Governance and Public administration Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
The colloquium which focused its debate on the theme “Democracy, Governance and Pan-African Idea: Whither Africa” is intended to foster greater awareness, sensitisation, knowledge generation and provide policy direction on governance in Africa.
It reflected on how far Africa had gone in achieving the dreams and ideals of Pan-Africanism in the political and governance realms in Africa.
Matlosa charged that while parties are key agents of democratisation, the extent to which they play an effective role in multiparty democracy is conditioned by both external and internal challenges that they face.
“The mere existence of political parties in a given country does not qualify its political system as democratic,” he added.
Matlosa said instead of parties working towards integration of societies at national level, the political elites tend to play politics in such a manner that intensifies existing diversities leading to more polarisation and even violence especially around elections like the case in Kenya in 2007 and 2008.
-0- PANA MM/VAO 25May2012