Africa’s democracy will forever be perceived as not being developed or consolidated because it is always seen or viewed with European or North America’s eyes. Just the way people including Africans who are in these countries view development of those countries and the ones in Africa.
One can not place an African country and that of Europe in the same basket. Democracy, development and political consolidation in a given place or country depends on different factors. I understand that in some of these Western countries the introduction of the democratic process took place a long time ago. While in most African and South American countries the introduction of multiparty elections happen not so long ago. This is because of obvious factors like colonialism and prolonged regimes. There is also the issue of tribes and chiefdoms to be put into consideration.
In this regard before when we copy and paste some elements which people perceive as democratic attributes we should look and analyse these issue with much caution. Issues like 51+1 are good elements of democracy but the question is what positive and negative development or fruits will they bring with them.
I feel the introduction of the 51+1 clause in the Zambia constitution will not only divide the country but also bring doom to some parties especially those founded on tribe and regional character or vote. People want to pretend that some parties are not strong in some provinces because of a given tribe. Pretence is not healthy especially on issues which affect the citizenry. I also think one of the reason we still have tribalism, sexism or racism is because we want to pretend they are just people’s imagination. If a person says otherwise they are branded as such.
As I said we have tribes and some political parties exist because of tribal or regional voting. For example UPND have MPs due to the fact that most of them come from Southern province. This is a fact. But people would say you are promoting tribalism if you say it. If I say plants have roots. That is the truth they do have roots.
I will give you an example. In the January Presidential By Elections. UPND Presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema who is from Southern province got 272, 182 votes compared to President Edgar Lungu’s 20,937 votes in the South. As it can be seen here the difference is more than 250, 000 votes between President Lungu from Eastern province and HH from Southern Province. Meaning out of the 807,925 votes Lungu got only 20, 937 votes where from Southern Province and mainly Livingston(8,352 votes) which is predominately Lozi speaking. That means the other 12 continuances gave Lungu a combination of 12, 585 votes. Yap that’s it. Just in case you missed it out of the total 780,168 votes HH got, 272, 182 came from southern province. There you go.
I don’t know if to call that democracy where people are free to exercises their voting rights or regional voting. You will be the judge of that. These are facts people want to say they do not exist. If the difference in Southern province between HH and President Lungu was half or slightly below half I will not have a problem but that difference makes me wonder a lot.
Now let us bring the 51+1 in the mix. Using the 20th January elections as an example if Lungu and HH would go for a rerun Lungu would win the elections as people from other provinces would teach a lesson to people in Southern province for having voted for only there tribes mate or fellow and not Lungu despite coming from a political party that has not left out the southern region in developmental programmes. In short people in southern province see tribe or name than development. You don’t need a University Political Economist to see that. They say numbers don’t lie.
For me introduction of the 50+1 is not good for our Political Landscape as parties founded or with a regional character would cry and this would divide the nation. People will see other tribes as selfish. In my opinion a simple majority for now is ideal for our politics. We need to consolidated our democracy in line with what we have and what we are. We need to teach each other to see behold tribe, politics, sex, belief or race. We have to take our democracy as a unique element of our society. It’s only us who should determine the course of our governance and democratic process.
Joe Mwansa Lombe Kaluba