First of all I believe that it is useful to briefly state that democratic governments are preferable to non-democratic governments. After this I will outline what liberal democracy is and what it is supposed to achieve.
The major donors have been meeting frequently in order to discuss development and debt problems and to devise aid strategies for African governments. In turn, foreign aid has increasingly been linked to a set of prescriptions for changes in both economic and political policies pursued by African governments.
The so-called new world order also has had significant effects on African governments. As the influence and interest of the Soviet Union in Africa declined and later collapsed with its demiseWestern states and the organizations they influence gained considerably greater leverage over African governments, surpassing the general client-dependent relationship of the s and s.
In the s, the international financial institutions announced that the implementation of structural adjustment and economic stabilization programs would be conditions for their assistance to African governments.
Agency for International Development took the lead in demanding policy changes, such as currency devaluation, removal of subsidies for public services, reduction of state intervention in agricultural pricing and marketing, greater concern to the development needs of rural areas, privatization of parastatal bodies, and reduction in the size and cost of the public sector.
In the early s, donors began to show interest in promoting political change in addition to economic reforms. African Views, African Voices. The National Academies Press. The Development Advisory Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is on record in support of "participatory development," which includes democratization, improved governance, and human rights.
The condition that political reforms be undertaken is now attached at least rhetorically to almost all Western aid.
Actual donor practices vary: France proposes greater liberty and democracy, Great Britain recommends good government, the United States focuses on good governance, Japan talks about linking aid to reductions in military expenditures.
Yet, regardless of the approach, there is increasingly strong agreement among donors that political reforms in Africa must result in reduced corruption and more financial accountability, better observance of human rights, independent media and an independent judiciary, participatory politics, and a liberalized market economy in order to move closer to the ultimate goal of meaningful economic growth and development.
The World Bank, for example, defines governance as "the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country's economic and social resources for development.
A number of political scientists participating in the Namibia workshop found it necessary to point out that the concepts of democracy and governance were interrelated, but were not the same.
They indicated that "good governance entails the efficient and effective reciprocity between rulers and the ruled, with it incumbent upon government to be responsive. Majoritarian democracy, on the other hand, entailed a broad consensus on values and procedures, the participation in the selection of ruling elites, and the accountability of leadership to the electorate.
Both concepts were related to processes in society within the context of reciprocity. Still, there was agreement in the meetings that African governments are deeply in need of governance reforms. In the Namibia meeting, one participant was of the opinion that the argument that all of Africa has practiced bad governance "is not an accurate statement.
In reality, there are few Mobutu Sese Sekos. Most African governments have been in difficult situations and they have opted for the easy way out.
Foreign governments did not insist on good governance, either. Even when policies failed, assistance kept coming.
Only recently have donors been raising the governance issue, linking it to assistance in order to ensure that the economy and politics be liberalized. Increasingly, Africans are saying that such conditions should be tied to policy performance, but not to a particular blueprint for democracy.
Africans should design their own approach to democracy, make a good-faith effort to govern well and to have programs work in an efficient manner, and strive for the development of a culture of democracy between the rulers and the ruled. Perhaps improved governance will take hold before democracy.
Africa is liberalizing, but it will take time, and one must be prepared to persevere for a long haul. It was pointed out also that democracy in Africa has been badly hindered by the state's control of the economy; this has meant that the only way to get rich has been through political office, intensifying the problem of corruption, and inducing leaders to cling to political power.
This has been disastrous for the economies in African countries. Thus, economic liberalization, empowering ordinary producers, may well be an aid to political democracy. Furthermore, in most African countries, the small number of individuals with power have managed to erode any semblance of accountability, legitimacy, democracy, and justice, which has been a basis of considerable disappointment to the planners, economists and policy makers who want African governments to introduce a reasonable and collective attack on poverty, disease, illiteracy, and other challenges to development.
In the deliberations, certain desperately needed elements of good governance were identified, including popular participation in governance, accountability and transparency, the elimination of corruption, the protection of freedom of information and human rights, and the decentralization and devolution of power.
Page 34 Share Cite Suggested Citation: This recognition emerged from the Arusha Conference "Putting the People First" of Februaryconvened under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and attended by over delegations representing grass roots organizations, nongovernmental organizations, United Nations agencies, and governments.
The African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation, which was adopted by the plenary, holds that the absence of democracy is a principal reason for the persistent development challenges facing Africa: After all, it is to the people that the very benefits of development should and must accrue.
We are convinced that neither can Africa's perpetual economic crisis be overcome, nor can a bright future for Africa and its people see the light of day unless the structures, pattern, and political context of the process of socioeconomic development are appropriately altered.
In the three workshops, the importance of popular participation in building democratic society likewise was underscored:Essay about Democracy, Development And Good Governance This is essential for long-term existence of democratic regime and for sustainability of development within democratic framework.
There are two important things required for functioning democracy. A Political Philosophy of Islamic Governance This article was published in the special issue The Roundtable, Vol.
9, Issue 2 (Institute of Political Economy, University of Asia and the Pacific, ). to (a) ensure political transparency and voice for all citizens, (b) provide efﬁ- cient and effective public services,(c) promote the health and well-being of its citizens, and (d) create a favorable climate for stable economic growth.
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