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Democratizing or Reconfiguring Predatory Autocracy? Myths and Realities in Africa Today

Myths and Realities in Africa Today

Tatah Mentan

Publication Year: 2009

The celebrations that heralded democratic change in the 1990s in Africa have gradually faded into muffled cries of anger and attendant violence of despair. Almost everywhere on the continent so-called democratic leaders are openly subverting the people's will and disregarding national constitutions. Ordinary people find themselves removed from the centres of power, marginalized and reduced to helpless and hopeless onlookers as political leaders, their friends and families noisily enjoy the spoils of impunity. From Nigeria to Zimbabwe, Kenya to the Ivory Coast and Uganda to Cameroon, the writing is on the wall. The experiment with democracy has blatantly taken a dangerous nosedive. There is a crisis of honest, committed and democratic leadership, in spite of the advancements in education and intellectualism of the populace, and despite the influences of globalization and new understandings of governance. In this brief volume, Tatah Mentan makes an incisive diagnosis of how the "security forces" brutally crush protests against bids to stay in power through corrupt electoral practices as well as how opposition voices have been hunted down and crushed or intimidated into graveyard silence. This is a clarion call for Africans to embrace the values of People Power in synch with the dictates of the current global imperatives. There is no place for visionless leadership. Africans need to raise their voices to recapture their freedom.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. 6-7


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pp. ix-x

Despite the explosion of multi-party elections since the 1990s democratic development and political stability have proved elusive in Africa. The greatest defect of African multiparty elections is that they address the symptoms of the African predicament rather than...

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Chapter One - Introduction

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pp. 1-4

The debate about the scope and the promise of capitalist democracy (liberal democracy) has been reignited by the African experience of democratization in the 1990s. This could hardly be more welcome in a continent where the authoritarian imprint of capitalism has...

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Chapter Two - Democracy: Why Myths and Realities in Africa?

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pp. 5-10

There is a foggy zone in what is called democracy in Africa today. Most regimes today are neither clearly democratic nor fully authoritarian. They inhabit the wide and foggy zone between liberal democracy and closed authoritarianism. To order this universe of...

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Chapter Three - Why is Democracy a Contested Global Construct Today?

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pp. 11-14

I shall start by insisting that education for democracy requires dialogical, authentic learning rather than the commodification of uniform, standardized knowledge and its acquisition touted by those marketizing education primarily for economic purposes. With this observation in mind, I shall call upon educators and university...

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Chapter Four - Analytical Framework

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pp. 15-26

We will primarily survey the contested centre of the continuum, the boundary between electoral democracies and electoral authoritarianism. It starts from the assumption that a coherent set of minimal democratic norms exists that any democratic regime...

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Chapter Five - Democracy in Africa Today: A Historical Overview

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pp. 27-30

Democracy is not a Western import. Rather, it is a universal, intrinsically woven principle that offers the conditions for human beings to achieve their maximum potential. Transparency (access to knowledge and information), participation, instruments of dialogue, effective monitoring institutions, bottom-up approaches...

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Chapter Six - Pluralist Elections and Ideological Complementarity

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pp. 31-34

Electoral authoritarian regimes neither practice democracy nor resort regularly to naked and barbaric repression. By organizing periodic elections they try to obtain at least a semblance of democratic legitimacy, hoping to satisfy external aid donors as well as internal...

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Chater Seven - Neoliberalism, Stagnation and Killing of Democracy

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pp. 35-50

Neoliberalism is not able to provide an institutional framework for sustained global capital accumulation. Neoliberalism undermines and dismantles the institutions set up to stabilize the capitalist economy and alleviate capitalist social contradictions. The capitalist...

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Chapter Eight - Essential Elements of Democracy

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pp. 51-54

Democracy as a form of government always has the following characteristics:
• there is a demos, a group which makes political decisions by some form of collective procedure. Non-members of the demos do not participate. In modern democracies the...

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Chapter Nine - Political Legitimacy and Democratic Culture

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pp. 55-60

All forms of government depend on their political legitimacy, that is, their acceptance by the population. Without that, they are little more than a party in a civil war, since their decisions and policies will be resisted, probably by force. Apart from those with anti-statist objections, such as anarchists and libertarians, most people are...

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Chapter Ten - Summary and Conclusion

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pp. 61-64

The greatest defect of African multiparty elections is that they address the symptoms of the African predicament rather than its structural causes in terms of explaining the structural roots of the crisis of politics, power, and production. Inefficiency, waste...

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Chapter Eleven - Towards Social Democracy in Africa

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pp. 65-74

Social democracy, historically, is a term that has been used by individuals on both the far and moderate left to describe their beliefs, but in recent years the latter have embraced the term almost exclusively (indeed radical left-wing critics often use the term...


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pp. 75-80

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956715633
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956558575

Page Count: 90
Publication Year: 2009