by Vladimir Antwi-Danso (PhD) Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIAD) University of Ghana LEGON 233-244-613282 [email protected]/ [email protected] at ACOA Conference, Accra, May 16, 2013 The concept of “governance” is highly contested and indeed its definition and application are not without problems. Since its appropriation into the development discourse in the late 1980s, “governance” has not just become associated with its normative partner, “good”, but it is also highly politicized. “Good governance” has come to be associated with a set of technocratic variables pertaining to the functioning of a government. However, the parameters for measuring good governance are mixed and difficult to universalize. No Water-tight Definition World Bank Definition: Governance – The Ruler and the Rules Good Governance The Ruler, The Rules and Mechanisms UNDP: Good governance is, among other things, participatory, transparent and accountable. It is also effective and equitable. And it promotes the rule of law. Good governance ensures that political, social and economic priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decision-making over the allocation of development resources In basic terms, ‘Good governance’ is characterized by participation, transparency, accountability, rule of law, effectiveness, equity, etc. Contextually therefore, Good governance refers to the management of government in a manner that is essentially free of abuse and corruption, and with due regard for the rule of law. There is generally a consensus, and especially in Africa, today that the concept of ‘democracy’ is intrinsically linked with “governance”, which of late has been given a normative tag ‘good’. Contemporary understanding of governance as a system of organizing society takes into account the relationship to democracy, development, state effectiveness, and the market. From this perspective, “governance” is defined in terms of state-society relations and internal structures and processes within government as a principal organ of the state. In this sense, democracy becomes a sub-set of governance. Usually, universal adult suffrage and/or constant elections, the presence of a constitution and institutions of governance, are the quickest pointers to democracy and good governance. But these mean nothing, if these parameters have not been steeped in socio-cultural and historical specificities, and especially if they are not intended for some specific goals. Democracy as means and democracy as goals Mazrui’s four goals of democracy: First is to make the rulers accountable and answerable for their actions and policies. Second is to make the citizens effective participants in choosing those rulers and in regulating their actions. Thirdly, to make the society as open and the economy as transparent as possible; and fourthly to make the social order fundamentally just and equitable to the greatest number possible. ‘Accountable rulers, actively participating citizens, open society and social justice – those are the four fundamental ends of democracy’ How to achieve these goals has elicited different means. Democracy then becomes a kind of contractual system with underlying moral obligations, where the authority of the state is based on the consent of the people, what is often noted in the literature as the ‘social contract’. The social contract then merely spells out the means for achieving the goals of democracy. This is because socio-cultural and historical relativities shape the means for achieving the goals of democracy GOOD GOVERNANCE DEMOCRACY Constitution Separation of Powers Institutions of Governance Freedoms and rights (of speech, association, etc) Frequent Elections The Presence of Democracy PLUS Good, visionary Leadership Institutionalism Prudence in Economic governance Probity and accountability Dialogue and Transparency Participation in the process by the socio-economic partners in development Provision of basic needs of the people Adherence to global best practices The Ruler The Rules Mechanisms ‘Good governance involves the creation of the conducive socio-economic, legal, political and institutional environments to foster the state’s material strength; to free people from the evils of abject poverty, preventable diseases, ignorance, squalor and idleness; to provide the citizenry with the voice to choose those who rule over them, to hold those in power accountable when they do not work for the greater good, to demand transparent structures and to fight down socially regressive policies, and to treat every citizen equal without regard to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and creed” – AU/NEPAD The nexus between governance and development has been explicitly identified by the World Bank. In the 1992 report entitled “Governance and Development”, the World Bank set out its definition of good governance as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development” One big issue about the system of governance and democracy in Africa concerns its relationship to development. The crucial question that always comes to mind where there is talk about democracy and development has been the issue whether Africa is underdeveloped because it is primarily undemocratic or Africa is undemocratic because it is primarily underdeveloped? Which is cause and which is effect? There is yet another dimension: stability. Stability is a socio-political precondition for both sustainable development and durable democracy. Africa’s three greatest needs therefore, are democracy (good governance), stability, and development, the two being the basic canvass for crafting the contours of the latter. Development Stability Democracy Development Democracy (Good Governance) Stability In the African setting, governance problems have been the main bane in stability and development. According to Julius Ihonbvere, governance in Africa has been at best neo-patrimonial and at worst clientilist and predatory. True, Africa has produced some of the most grotesquely predatory leaders the world has ever known. Nationalist leaders who ushered Africa into independence did not change the neo-patrimonial pattern of colonial rule – a government-led discriminatory economic development that avoids the growth of local entrepreneurial capacity. They also pursued clientilist policies that assured continued support for their rule. Dictatorship was the order, while in later years, mere predation – imprudence in economic governance, including massive corruption, profligacy, and theft – symbolized Africa’s governance style. It is against this background that Africa has seen lots of civil-military cycles and a host of civil wars, some of which are yet to abate. Indeed, the failure of democracy and economic development in Africa are due, in large part, to the scramble for wealth by predator elites who have dominated African politics since independence. They see the state as a source of personal wealth accumulation. There is high premium on the control of the state, which is the biggest and most easily accessible source of wealth accumulation. The people in power and those who seek power use all means to attain their goal. This includes fostering ethnic sectarianism, propaganda, and political repression. Competition for control of the state, whether between the military and civilian classes or between civilian political parties, is invariably ferocious and generates instability. Many of the apparently senseless civil conflicts in Africa are due to the battle for the spoils of power. Certainly, an underlying cause of many of the manifestations of bad governance in Africa, including political repression, corruption and ethnic sectarianism, is the endeavour by the ruling classes to be and remain part of the global elite despite their nations’ poverty. Improving and sustaining growth in developing countries is a challenge not only because economic policies to promote and sustain growth are difficult, but more because these need to be supported by governance capabilities, which in African countries are correspondingly weak. The experience of successful developers suggests that growth-promoting governance was important Generally, states in Africa are incapacitated as instruments of development because ruling classes, including people in and outside of government, are motivated by objectives that have little to do with the common good. Scholars and practitioners such as Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, have presented intricate arguments demonstrating the causal connections between governance and democracy on growth and development Bad governance, even if it does not lead to instability, may create economic dislocations: corruption, high inflationary trends, fiscal deficits, high unemployment rates, etc., which in turn may foster political upheavals. Such political upheavals cause a reduction in state capacities, especially in growth According to one influential study, civil wars reduce GDP per capita at an annual rate of 2.2 percent relative to estimates of the trend likely in the absence of conflict The Farce of Democracy in Africa Africa’s Dysfunctional Political Systems The Leadership Deficit The International Moral Decadence Africa’s search for stability has been tortuous and with very little success because democracy and good governance have been elusive. Governance has at best been neo-patrimonial and at worst predatory. The support from the international community has been a prescriptive one-size-fits-all model of democracy and governance. A key lesson however, is that governance is contextual. While it is possible to identify concepts and principles of governance that are universal, they make no sense without adequate contextual reference. In Africa the leadership deficit has not helped matters. Most of Africa’s leaders are short-termist, profligate, corrupt and greedy, radar-less and predatory. Democracy is about organizing society in a way as to allow for participation and inclusiveness; it is about roles in the building of a just and equitable society. As such, the contractual obligation of each is defined. Against this background, constitutionalism and institutionalism are inevitable to ensure equity, probity, and accountability. These are missing in Africa. Where in Africa some semblance of democracy and good governance may be observed, consolidation has been a problem and reversals have been observed in several countries. Until Africa finds the right keys, instability, resulting from mis-governance, will continue to derail development.