SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda has said Africa should define its own form of democracy and stop subjecting itself to the Eurocentric democratic concept.
Speaking in Kariba during a training session of MPs on the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) on Tuesday, Mudenda said while Africa had a targeted period when it was troubled by military rule, especially in West Africa, there has been a correction of the military regime appetite.
“Now Africa has embraced democracy as a political ideology, which arises from the authority of the people,” Mudenda said.
The event was organised by local humanitarian organisation, ActionAid, which has been at the forefront of popularising ACDEG ensconced in articles four, 14 and 17 of the African Union Charter.
It compels member states to observe democracy, the rule of law and human rights, to strengthen and institutionalise democratic institutions, and that state parties must reaffirm their commitment to regular holding of transparent, free and fair elections in accordance with the principles of governing democratic elections in Africa.
Article 14 (1) of ACDEG states that “state parties shall strengthen and institutionalise constitutional civilian control over the armed and security forces to ensure the consolidation of democracy and constitutional order”, while article 14 (2) states that “state parties shall take legislative and regulatory measures to ensure that those who attempt to remove an elected government through unconstitutional means are dealt with in accordance with the law.”
Mudenda said: “If you look at Eastern Europe and the Arab World, you ask yourself if there is democracy in the manner we understand it from a Eurocentric angle, and you will discover that what we call democracy in Africa and Europe may not have the same meaning in China and the Arab countries.
“Consequently we must ask ourselves and interrogate what democracy is in the East and West and where democracy fits in Africa and in this political triangle.
You will notice that Africa has not done badly in the tenets of democratic elections and governance.”
The speaker said the executive, judiciary and parliament derive their authority from the people, and therefore the people deserve democracy, good governance and credible elections.
“The US fought the British through the American war of independence and they won and then they decided that George Washington who was the commander in chief during that war should be the President of the US.
“Is it then surprising that in Zimbabwe, at Independence, we had people who commanded the liberation struggle and became the first rulers, for example the late former president Robert Mugabe, was the Zanla commander-in-chief.”
Mudenda then said during Washington’s tenure, there was a civil war for four years in the US and
600 000 people died in a country believed to be an icon of democracy.
He said Africa, therefore, has not done badly on democracy and that is why it came up with the ACDEG, adding that MPs must have constitutional and ACDEG literacy in order to exercise their legislative, representation and oversight duties well.
Although ACDEG speaks on observance of human rights and freedoms of assembly and expression, the Zanu PF government has been accused recently by the international community, the African Union and different international human rights organisations of failing to observe ACDEG principles and breaching human rights due to its heavy handedness on demonstrators, the arrests of political opponents and journalists.