Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Citizen from Dar-es-Salaam opines today that retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu are not helping by condemning President Mugabe. The same could be said of Archbishop Sentamu. In Kenya, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia, opposition leaders to incumbents are imprisoned or incapacitated even when its clear they have won elections.

Rather than responding after every politically motivated crisis in Africa with condemnation, the UK needs to develop a long-term strategy of putting Africa on the road to real democracy, lasting peace and sustainable development.

The first step is to recognise that liberal democracy, which they are enjoying in the UK today, did not happen over-night, but it took centuries, during which King Charles was beheaded. Therefore, it is totally unrealistic to expect Africa, which is only 50 years, and Zimbabwe, which is just 28 years old, to practise perfect Western liberal democracy.

Secondly, it should be recognised that democracy cannot take root or flourish anywhere without effective democratic institutions. For that reason, the UK should put less emphasis on exporting Western liberal democracy and focus on helping African countries to develop independent judiciaries, state security forces and civil services, and most of all, an electoral commission.

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