ELECTIONS AND REPRESENTATIVE rule IN AFRICA
ELECTIONS AND REPRESENTATIVE RULE IN AFRICA
There are various concepts of democracy, and their respective practices yield a correspondingly diverse range of outcomes. The precise form that democracy takes is determined by a country's socioeconomic realities or social production relations, as well as its entrenched state structures and policy practices. “Classical” democracies assumed decision-making based on direct participation.
The assembled citizens were expected to reach an agreement on a common course of action after hearing the alternatives and assessing their benefits and drawbacks.
Democracy, also known as liberal democracy, has been defined as administration by people freely chosen by the governed who are held accountable and responsible for their acts while in office through elections. Elections, it should be noted, are intended not only to assure, confirm, or reaffirm the legitimacy of governors by frequent consent, but also to create a fertile ground for liberal democracy or representative rule to develop and be consolidated.
However, rather from being a political asset and a legitimate force, elections in postcolonial Africa have become a political liability, causing instability and degradation. The different experiences with competitive election politics in most regions of Africa have resulted in the worst of political thuggery and brigandage, as well as unmediated and uncontrolled violence.
For example, elections in Nigeria are marked by the wanton devastation of lives and property. In fact, Nigeria's so-called electoral politics has been compared to an alternative form of warfare.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is responsible for organising elections, failed to do so because it is structurally and functionally dependent on the executive branch of government. Only in a few cases do elections truly give the people a say in who governs.
Ghana and South Africa, for example, have emerged from long periods of military and apartheid rule to lead the fight for democracy in Africa. Ghana's December 2008 election was a watershed point in the country's political history. Ghana's Electoral Commission held an election that both foreign and local observers deemed free and fair.
It accomplished this achievement because it is structurally and functionally independent of the three branches of government. The Marxist theory of the state, which holds that the state serves to maintain the current social and political order, was employed.
This framework was used to help us understand why INEC was unable to hold a legitimate presidential election in 2007 due to its reliance on the executive branch of government, as well as the overbearing influence of the ruling elites, who insist on maintaining the status quo.
Ghana's independent electoral commission was able to organise a free and fair election, according to both local and foreign election observers. This report recommends that INEC be structured and functionally reformed to make it more independent of any of the three branches of government,
as well as from the overbearing influence of other political elites with one or two interests to defend or advance. The report also advises that Ghana's Electoral Commission establish a strategy to address the problems/hiccups she encountered during voter registration and the electoral period in future elections.