Democracy and Good Governance, ICASSRT, 1999

 Africa and Democracy 

John Forje 
B.P. 13429 Yaounde - Cameroon

No continent has recorded a false start like Africa. We live in a continent characterised by wars, shaky democracies, captive legislative assemblies, captured judiciary, an expanding inefficient bureaucracy, and a passive civil society. One wonders and even questions why; what should be done to sow the seeds of a better start for a new millennium. Which seeds must be sown, when, how and by whom. 
Scholars of the politics of the developing areas argue that the present democratisation process in Africa places it in democracy's second wave. An earlier attempt following of independence began and ended with the agitation for self-governance and the granting of independence to these territories in the 1960s. Since then, our governance path has been characterised by "false starts", things falling apart, and above all, "politics of all the belly" for a selected few. In some countries, this is termed as advanced democracy. 
Beliefs and perceptions about regime legitimacy have long been recognised as a critical factor in governance change, bearing particularly on the persistence of break-down of democracy. The democratic process in Africa has been subjected to various pressures leading to a total collapse in some states; Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, amongst others. The failure of most African governments  to meet the expectations of their peoples for relief from poverty and the democratisation; expectations which could be satisfied only granting, decentralisation and grass roots participation. A new partnership between state and civil society is urgently required for these nations before things get worse and out of control. Thus the choice of a governance system becomes imperative in meeting the aspirations,  expectations and needs of the society. 
The obvious conclusion one arrives at is that the "absence of democracy" accounts for the continent's woes and predicaments. Apart from Benin, Botswana, Mauritius and South Africa, democracy and the democratic process have receded from the shores of the African continent. No doubt following the collapse of communist governments caused by peoples' power, Africans also started to agitate for political liberation as a result of the demonstration effect: old dictatorial autocratic and discredited regimes were forced to acknowledge the strength of opposition and grudgingly accepted demands for free elections and the establishment of a new political order. On the eve of our transition to the mythical millennium and  with all its euphoria, there is still little confidence that viable structures of democracy would be part of the continent's culture in the near future. As we embrace the new millennium, so also we recognise the need for genuinely experimenting with  a new governance form. 
From the collapse of the Berlin Wall a decade ago through the dismantling of the apartheid system and the formation of a Government of National Unity, in South Africa, and of recent, the bold stride made by Africa's most populous nation Nigeria  in joining the cherished  club of democratic governance, one is bound to ask the simple, yet complicated question; what is democracy and why democracy as the Perestrioka for the continent on the eve of a new millennium? 
This paper takes critical look at the negative and positive sides of "democracy" as a governance system. It concludes that the institutionalisation of values and rights, the rule of law, justice, freedom of speech, accountability, transparency, participation, respect for different views of opinions are all prerequisites for democracy which must be nurtured and sustained. 
The gap between the industrial North and poverty stricken Africa makes the issue of  democracy or the "second independence" of Africa all the more acute. Disappointment in the rising aspiration of a battered society that had placed their faith in the new generation of democratically elected leaders has helped to render fragile regimes vulnerable to popular discontent, the reimposition of authoritarian rule and the start of a fresh cycle of incompetent and corrupt government. But is this cycle inevitable? Is Africa to be forever condemned to political instability, wars, ethnic confrontation, abject poverty, economic misery, corruption, dependency and global marginalisation? Or, is there hope for a new future? Any hope for a better Africa can only build on a vibrant civil society which for the past five decades succumbed into a passive, captive and weak institution in the body politic of African countries. The worries of Connolly (1987:3) is that "democracy contains danger" and that it is a danger that "resides within the ideal itself." 

The Lacuna of Democracy 
Democracy can at best be defined as government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. The most common definition of democracy using Abraham Lincoln's phrase is "government of, by and for the people". Strange in the concept has been appropriated by politicians of all stripes and is used to describe all forms of governance for example, military dictatorship, totalitarian, and even unelected regimes. 
Democracy, properly so-called has scored an historic victory over alternative forms of governance. The collapse of the Berlin Wall and the governance system of Eastern and Central European countries vindicates the position of democracy in the world. Nearly everyone professes to be a democrat. Political regimes of all kinds throughout the world claim to be democracies.  It seems as if political choices can only begin to be adequately recognised, articulated and negotiated in a democracy. Thus democracy bestows an aura of legitimacy on modern political life; laws, rules and policies appear justified when they are "democratic". 
Equally important is the fact that democracy is a remarkably difficult form of government to create and sustain. Historically, in this century which we are about to bid fare voyage to, fascism, Nazism and Stalinism came extremely close to obliterating democracy altogether. The fact that it never came tumbling down;  and backed with  the unannounced revolutions which swept across countries behind the iron curtain countries a decade ago, highlights its triumphancy and that of capitalism over all political and economic alternatives (see Held, 1993, and Fukuyama 1989). The failure to create and institutionalise a world socialist system left democracy and capitalism as the unchallengeable lion in the world's governance system. 
Intrinsic to and often used interchangeably democracy is the concept of "freedom". But the two concepts are not synonymous. While democracy implies a set of ideas and principles about freedom, it also consists of a set of practices and procedures which have been experimented and nurtured over a long period of  tortuous history.  "Freedom", on the other hand, "is the power or condition of acting without compulsion. It implies total or moderate absence of restraint or merely an unawareness of being unduly hampered or frustrated" (Woolf 1979:454). Simply stated, democracy is the institutionalisation of freedom. Freedom and responsibility constitute the bedrock of democracy. 
This makes it possible to identify the time-tested fundamentals of constitutional governments, human rights, the rule of law and equality before the law that any society must posses to be properly and genuinely perceived as democratic. As such, democracy is not a constitutional arrangement to be taken off the peg for immediate use but the name we give to the way such arrangements work. In the words of Osakeshott, "democracy is not a prescription for political practice but the distillation of practice itself, practice comes first and the theory of what is to be democratic simply illumines practice." The conditions under which parliamentary democracy evolved in the West were entirely different from those in Africa today. 
Democracy can not be transferred. "Oakeshott argues that "such a government will not have native origins. It has been home grown in Western society and to seek to transfer its beliefs and habits to an exotic soil will always be difficult." It must be cultivated and nurtured by the people within their own environmental setting and in cognisance of the inherent principles, beliefs and values it entails. It goes without saying that democracy itself guarantees nothing, it offers  instead the opportunity to succeed as well as the risk of failure. The risk of failure continues to be too glaring in Africa half-a-century after independence, even though this may be seen as a short time in the life span of country when compared to the older democracies. Borrowing from the ringing but shrewd phrase of Thomas Jefferson, the promise of democracy is "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". 
Against this background, it is evidently clear that "democracy is both a promise and challenge, it is a promise that free human beings, working together, can govern themselves in a manner that will serve their aspirations for personal freedom, economic opportunity and social justice. It is challenge because the success of the democratic enterprise rests upon the shoulders of its citizens and no one else" (Ravitch 1989). 
Broad and complex as the subject is, one begins to question whether there is a common silver lining in the application of Aristotle's political system of the "rule of one and the rule of many" for the African continent. A simple run down of political theory from Plato through Aristotle to twenty-first century political analysts like Dahl, Easton, Mazrui and many others, show the divergent views that exist amongst scholars between theory and practice. 
These theorists in various ways present different explanations, analysis, on comparative studies of democracy. Outstanding in these many and varied interpretations of democracy is the difficulty of researchers or political analysts in arriving at a common consensus of what democracy is; and whether there could be common generalisation or application of their conceptual definition, interpretation and analysis for all countries. What is clear is that democracy remains an open ended topic; a topic that unravel the origins of autocracy, dictatorship, and other forms of governance within a political system. 
Flowing from the above, it can be argued that the absence of democracy is a major cause of chronic underdevelopment in Africa. The problem here is that African leaders do not separate  political democracy from economic democracy  or that matter from economic well-being. They see their political empowerment, through democratisation, as an essential part of the process of getting the economic agenda right. 

Variants of Democracy 
Generally, there is a deep seated conflict on whether democracy implies a kind of popular power, i.e. form of politics in which citizens are engaged in self-government and self-regulation; or an aid to decision-making, i.e. a means of conferring authority on those periodically voted into office (Held 1997). Within these two divergent opinions, at least three basic models of democracy can be dissected as follows: 

Box 1     Variants of Democracy (USA, India, South Africa): 
- Direct or Participatory Democracy (example: Ancient Africa / Old Greek city state) 
- Liberal or Representative democracy (modern State governance as in Britain, Canada, Botswana, Sweden, etc.) 
- One-Party Model - Delegative democracy (e.g. the collapsed USSR system and most African countries before 1990) 

Direct or Participatory 
Direct or participatory democracy implies a governance system where all citizens without an intermediary, elected or appointed officials participate in public decisions. 
This is a system most practical in a society with a limited population as was the case in ancient Athens and Africa. Indeed, history has it that the origin of this type of democracy developed in ancient Athens. Athens became the world's first democracy that practised direct or participatory democracy with an assembly of limited population 2000-5000 physically gathered in one particular place for effective decision-making on their needs and development. 
Both (Bernal 1987 and Springborg 1992) see the political ideals of Athens - the city state or polis society - as equality among citizens. Liberty, respect for the law and justice - as constituting the integral component of western political thinking today. 

Liberal or Representative 
The second type - liberal or representative democracy constitutes a system of rule embracing "genuinely" elected officer who represents the interest of the citizen by articulating and aggregating interests, formulating laws and administering programmes for the public good. Such elected officers in a liberal or representative democracy hold office in the name of the people and remain accountable to the people for their actions. 
The hall-mark of liberal or representative democracy is the attempt to justify the sovereign power of the state and at the same time place limits on that power. It is a system which concerns and thrives on reason, lawful government and freedom of choice  properly up held by recognising the political equality of all matured individuals.  It is a system where such equality ensures not only a secure social environment. 

Monolithic Party Model 
The third variant which some people can hardly accept as a form of democracy is the dominant one-party model with its origins deeply rooted in the now collapsed Soviet Union. For both Marx and Engels, the great universal ideals, justice, equality and liberty (JEL) could not be attained by the "free struggle for votes in the political system together with the "free" struggle for profit in the market place. In other words, they disagreed that liberty could be sustained and inequalities minimised under these institutions. They argued, therefore, that capitalist economy by virtue of its internal dynamics, inertially produces systematic inequality and massive restrictions on real freedom. 
As a result, political equality and its liberating potentials is severely curtailed by inequalities of class.  The state can hardly become the vehicle for the pursuit of the common good and public interests. Simply stated, their argument saw political emancipation is only a step towards human emancipation; i.e. complete democratisation of both society and the state. In this connection, a liberal or representative democratic society fails when judged by its own promises. 
To correct this shortcomings, Marx, Engels and other advocates of this thought argued for the creation of the one-party state system with a "pyramid" structure of "delegated democracy". All delegates are revocable, bound by the instructions of their constituency and organised into a "pyramid" of directly elected committees. The party which they see as the mouth piece of civil society  is placed above the state machinery to work for the common good. This has not been borne out in practice as individual good has always been privileged to the detriment of the common good. 
The different variants of democracy questions the conditions conducive for its operationalisation in Africa for example. At different stages Africa has experimented with these variants of democracy each with its own success or failure stories to tell. Some of the underlying factors conducive for democracy include; 

Box 2     Conditions Conducive for Democracy (CCD) between groups: 
- Political attitudes and behaviour; 
- Economic development, Political institutions; 
- Inter-elite / ethnic relations; 
- Social structures and  interaction; 
- Sequences in development; 
- External and internal influences; 

While no single factor is capable of explaining the development of democracy, nonetheless, there has to be some form of universally acceptable standards and principles underscoring the smooth functioning and survival of democracy and the state. These include freedom of speech, enjoyment of full civic rights, participation in the process of electing/dismissing a government, transparency of government and its respect for the rule of law, protection of human life and property amongst many others. 

Box 3    Factors essential to the development and Nurturing of Democracy: 
- No single factor is sufficient to explain the development of democracy in all countries or in a single country;  
- No single factor is necessary to the development of democracy in all countries;  
- Democratisation in each country is the result of the combination of causes:  
- The combination of causes producing democracy varies from country to country;  
- The combination of causes generally  responsible for one wave of democratisation differs from that responsible for others. 

Foundation of Democracy 
Building a passion for democracy must rest on a number of inter-related tenets. Amongst these are the centrality of the structure of public power, of a constitution to help protect and safeguard rights and liberties and of a diversity of power centres within and outside the state. 

Box 4     Foundations of Democracy and political pluralism compromise: 
- Sovereignty of the people; 
- Government based upon consent of the ruled; 
- Majority rule; 
- Minority rights; 
- Guarantee of fundamental human rights and needs; 
- Equality before the law; 
- Due process of law; 
- Free and fair elections; 
- Constiutional limits on government; 
- Social, economic cooperation;  
- Values of tolerance, pragmatism  
- Inclusion and not exclusion;  
- Freedom of the press and speech. 

In the words of Diane Ravitch, US Secretary of Education, "when a representative democracy operates in accordance with a constitution that limits the powers of the government and guarantees fundamental rights to all citizens, this form of government is a constitutional democracy. In such a society, the majority rules, and the rights of minorities are protected by law and through the institutionalisation of law." 
A successful democracy is one where the tyranny of both the majority and minority is  checked and controlled through pluralism, the element of coexisting within a social fabric of many and varied institutions and forces - the separation of powers, the rule of law,   a vibrant civil society, an independent press all enjoying legitimacy and functioning with the realms of the laws of the country. In contrast, within the confines of "thin democracy" or single-party state, virtually all of these institutions and organisations are controlled, watched and made accountable to the dictates of the government. 
Given that democratic politics is ever evolving, democracy does inherit attributes which gives it a dynamic evolutionary process, for example: 
- the revolutionary spirit of democracy is tied to its spontaneity, its creativity and its responsiveness to change; 
- the autonomy of democracy entails a commitment to engagement, participation, and empowerment; 
- the communality or publicness of democratic judgement (decision making with respect to common action) in a democracy, which mandates some form of democratic communtarianism and common willing. 
Adherence to these pillars of democracy ensures that democracy enjoys constant, permanent motion - a gentle kind of permanent revolution, a movable feast that affords each generation room for new appetite and new tastes for political activities to flourish. 

Typologies to Transition  
The type of democratic governance naturally depend on the type of transition adopted by each African state. Judging from the kind of state-civil society relations, failure in social engineering, backwardness of technological achievements and a stagnated economic growth, will in different ways influence the process of change. In some cases, it could be peaceful (Senegal, Cameroon, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, etc) or it could be violent, (e.g. Algeria, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, etc) Senegal, Cameroon and Tanzania saw the voluntary retirement of the Head of  State - Senghor, Ahidjo, Nyerere). At least four typologies to transition in Africa are discernible (see box 5). 

Box 5     Typologies to Transition 
1. Transition through system and political collapse: defeat at elections Benin, South Africa,
2. Voluntary retirement Senegal, Cameroon, Tanzania
3. Transition through popular revolt Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Zaire, Chad, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo
4. Transition through negotiation between the powers that be (military or Civilian) and the democratic forces  Zaire, Algeria,
It is not surprising that there are cracks on the democratic walls of African states. Indeed, any form or approach engulfing quick fixes and short-cuts or any mimicry would be an exercise in futility. For transition to democracy to be credible and sustainable, it must be an integral part of the transformation of the entire political and socio-economic structures for the public interest. Democratic governance cannot take root without the participation of civil society in the process. 
In his study of democracy in the Third World, Robert Pinkney (1995) looks at various types  of democracies from the following perspectives, radical, guided, liberal, socialist and consociational (See  box 6). Looking at citizen's rights, participation and actual potential problems in the different types of democracy, we discover different variants of citizen participation, citizen's rights, actual and potential problems. For example, guided democracy, is construed on the borders of authoritarianism, and of the people's democracies - here society is perceived as an organic unit with common interests, unlike the aggregation of undifferentiated individuals in radical democracy. 

Box 6     Types of democracy 
Participation Rights Problems
Radical Active & encouraged electoral contestation Subordination of individual 
rights but protected by equality before the law
Tyranny of the majority
Guided Mobilisation by the elite; no elections Individual rights seen as state interests rulers decide on state of equality Tyranny of the elite
Liberal Permitted but not encouraged Constitutional safeguards of individual rights; Equality before the law Elite domination of unequal distribution of resources
Socialist  Popular participation to offset elite power  Attitudes to civil rights; ambiguous objective of social equality Extent of coercion required to achieve objective
Participation within groups; electoral contestation Variable may be safeguarded by state, or within constituent groups Reinforce- 
ment of social divisions, immobilism
Note: Capitalism depends on the rule of law. The rule of law, limited government, separation of powers and the protection of rights of individuals and minorities constitute basic tenets of the institutions of democracy. Again the health of democracy is dependant on the institutions of free economy and the right to "the pursuit of happiness". If democracies in Africa are to survive in the 21st century, it is crucial that the health of institutions of economic liberty be closely attended to. 

The Case of Cameroon - Where are we?  
This triangular shaped nation with its chequered historical past has transverse through the corridors of liberal - representative and thin democracy or single party at various time periods. 
Two trends emerged. In French speaking Cameroon, reforms in 1956 for democracy and democratic governance took off on very shaky grounds - shaky because they were entrenched with the politics of "exclusion" by the French colonial masters who believed in nothing but the politics of assimilation, monopoly and destruction particularly when something was beyond their reach. In the anglophone Cameroon, liberal – representative democracy was institutionalised at the foot of Mount Fako on 26 October, 1954. It embraced nearly all aspects of the tenets, of Liberal-representative democracy, democratic governance  and quality management. The two territories operated on different structural-functional frameworks of either the politics of "inclusion" or "exclusion" with the consequences each entails. 
Liberal-representative democracy flourished until September 1966 when the two Cameroons were plunged into or joined the club of thin democracy under the auspices of single-party democracy which lasted until 1990-1992 not even the timid transition to a quasi form of one party participatory democracy within the ruling CPDM party which permitted more than one candidate to run for various party posts within a constituency could stop the agitation for the introduction of a liberal democracy. 
Indeed, Cameroon's transition (glasnost or Perestroika) to democracy can be traced  back to 1987 (two years before Gorbachev bomb shell) with the publication of Communal Liberalism. It rekindled the hope of many people within and across the frontiers of the nation for a better tomorrow. It equally enhanced Cameroon's position as "the political laboratory" for democracy, peaceful coexistence, and diversity in unity" on the African continent and within the Third World, following the giant steps taken to reunify the two Cameroons in 1961; at a time when Britain and France could hardly embrace each other, let alone share a common administrative formula as they now do within the statutory framework of the European Union. 
Unfortunately, "child prestoriaka Cameroon" was thrown out with the bath water - the result of the politics of ethnic hegemony and exclusion. Communal liberalism as a new taste for democracy migrated to the shores of other nations. Today Cameroon is not harvesting the fruits of its pioneership but leaking the wounds of its failure and inflexibility to act and push forward or nurture the child it conceived some 15 years ago. Yet flexibility turns out to be democracy's great virtue by adapting to society's evolution. 
Generally, 1990 is the turning point for the country's second wind of  democracy and political transformation. Beginning with the arrest of Yondo Black in February and culminating on 26 May 1990, with the birth of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), significant strides have been made towards establishing a democratic society: for example, the conduct of multi-party parliamentary and presidential elections in 1992 and 1997; and local council elections in 1996. Whether these elections were free and fair and whether the other ingredients of the pillars of democracy were adhered to is not the contention here. The reports of the various observers at these elections speak for themselves (see NDI 1992; West Africa 1992, Azonga 1992 and others). The writing is on the wall for any one to draw conclusions on whether or not democracy is  fragile or consolidated in the country. 
Judging from statutory provisions, the press, both spoken is free from a practical point of view, there has been some improvement but the press is not truly free. The gross absence of the separation of powers and good government, the rule of law, the non-existence of an independent judiciary worries any advocate or strong believer in the principles and practice of democracy. The disentanglement of state bureaucracy from the sledge hammer of party machinery and influence is yet to take place. Without these and other related issues guaranteed, democracy can hardly hold its ground. It will, of course, not be "liberal-representative" democracy but "delegated or thin democracy" in practice. 
The establishment of "political liberty" involves a process whereby "political rights" previously a monopoly for a select few and denied civil society are rightly restored to where they belongs - the people -  and not the government. James Madison states in the Federalist that "liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as by the abuse of power." And the single party system is a source of power abuse. 
The preamble of the Cameroon's constitution establishes a government in order to secure the blessings of liberty. Thus the constitution avow that it is solely to secure their inalienable rights that men institute governments, which must thus derive just powers from the consent of the governed. We all agree that government is preceded by and founded upon rights, which become its central rationalising principle and the measure by which all of its institutions, acts, and laws are legitimated. The Cameroon constitution states; "Everyone has equal rights and obligations. The State endeavours to assure for all its citizens the conditions necessary to their development. Freedom and security are guaranteed to each individual subject to respect for the rights of others and the higher interest of the State." 

Democracy and Party Politics 
Sustainable democracy builds on party politics. In the case of Cameroon, political pluralism was reduced to single-party centralised system between 1966 and 1990. The traditional machine of party politics as democratic instrument embedding the people was transformed into "personality or cult politics." The devolution of power is also required to match with the prevailing state of political pluralism. 
The period 1996-1990 constitutes one of crisis afflicting party and government as a "deadlock of democracy" that paralysed democracy and the effective use of power for national policy making. It was used for vindictive purposes. The fear of the erosion of the power base of the existing system by those in command. 
Multiparty pluralism was legalised on 19 December 1990. Ironically, on that day Law No. 90/052 regulating the independent press came in effect with section 4 (17) of the law stipulating that the Minister of territorial Administration had the right to seize or ban any publication or issue that failed to follow the review process. The censorship process being the right of District Officers to review newspapers before  publication. 
The existence of 158 political parties does not argue well for the proper functioning of democracy nor is the presence of a monolithic party system a better prescription for democracy. These two developments in different ways impede the rationality of democracy as a governance system. Some may see it as means of perfecting democracy in the country. 
However, a major problem in Cameroon's democracy is that of a "divided and weak" opposition; and of political parties lacking any ideological orientation. Rather the country's politics is screwed within the parameters of  "ethnic and belly" politics. The ruling party is just too glad to see the emergence of many mushroom parties that it can best manipulate to obtain a presidential majority in order to remain in office. The main Opposition parties  too are worried with the proliferation of small parties as this helps in eroding their grass roots support. The two scenario explain what politics is all about. 
To be more precise, between 1982-1990, political reforms were initiated within the ruling party to promote a more liberal and democratic society where tolerance and greater individual freedom and the exchange of ideas could prevail (see Biya 1987:36-38). The period leading to the first multiparty elections (1990-1992) was dominated by two factors: 
? A period of political reform perceived in certain quarters as a danger to democracy. The proliferation or opening up of politics to grass-roots seen as a healthy development for democracy. Reform became a problem; 
? It was also a period characterised by regulative politics. Political    reform had to be regulated, guided, controlled and by opening the flood gates for the  emergence of mushroom political parties - the country ended up with more than 150 parties. In certain quarters it was seen as "advanced democracy" because it gave equalised access" for public interests groups as opposed to special interests that monopolised the system to participate in the democratic process. 
? Constitutional-making or reform was conducted by the use of    the latest gadgets of information and communication technology. Democracy in Cameroon had already entered the super-sonic age of the 21st century. Did it imply  the end or evolution of democracy  in Cameroon? It was progress that failed since the endless frontiers of modern technology was not extended to cover (i) registration of voters; (ii) voting, and vote  counting, and (iii) the immediate reporting of the results as they unfolded with the aid of these gadgets. This move could have  restored legitimacy, confidence and credibility in the regime as  well as avoided the degree of suspicion surrounding the conduct and real results of the elections. 
This aspect of transparency has yet to be incorporated in the body politic, evolution of democracy and the democratic process in Cameroon. If technology is to make a political difference, it is the politics that will first have to be changed. Furthermore, and even where it can be shown that technology inherently holds out the promise of civic and democratic potential, it is not likely to reflect the tin, representative alienating version of democracy that currently dominates political thinking. For without a will toward a more participatory and boots civic system, why should technologically enhanced politics not produce the same incivility and cynicism that characterised politics on the older technologies. The inappropriate use of modern technology as a mechanism for political reform can become a danger to democracy. 
Pushing the debate further is the issue of "political poison", particularly as manifested in respect of the "poison of money in politics."  "On February 16, 1992, just two weeks  before the March legislative elections, the Administration made available 500 million CFA francs to be divided among all parties that participated in the elections. Although this seems to have been a generous gesture by the administration, it appears that the real motive of the offer was to improve the chances of electing CPDM candidates by encouraging many opposition candidates as possible to run." (Takougang 1997:172). 
The idea of granting the state financial support to political parties contesting elections contributed to the proliferation of political parties and enhanced the issue of "politics of the belly". Many parties were formed and contested the elections not that they had anything to offer to society in terms of ideological orientation or addressing the pertinent issues plaguing the society, but because money could be made out of the exercise. 
If the idea was restoring to the people the means to actively participate and enhance liberal-representative democracy, it turned out to have a boomerang effect because: 
- it helped to promote the corrupt influence of the government in the democratic process; 
- it contributed to an fostering enlarged "politics of the belly and the corruption syndrome"; 
- it did not advance democracy but threw the nation in a state  of  political uncertainty and made a mockery of the concept of democracy; 
- the result of the boomerang effect is very visible following Cameroon's  classification, second year running, as the number one corrupt nation in the world. The country may begin the new millennium by keep the "corruption cup" for good. 
The explanation of the cause of the present state of democracy and political system in Cameroon is traceable to the degree and result of its corruption by special interest money, either from individuals and big businesses who want to gain certain favours from government, or from the State to individuals to buy their votes and support to disrupt the emergence of an organised and effective Opposition. The concept of a "loyal opposition" or a "government in waiting" is absent in the political jargon and dispensation of the country. In addition, government fails to employ the special qualities of the Opposition to ensure its own credibility and legitimacy. A progressive government is one that recognises the role of the Opposition. And a successful opposition is one that is constructive and ready at any time to assume office and do better than its predecessor. 
Democracy and political reforms in Cameroon have become a problem because of the covert corruption - special interests of "poison money". Can any one deny that the results of elections since 1992 is not the outcome of "poison money in Cameroon politics"? Or that the problem of widespread poverty and unemployment have not been effectively addressed because our political leaders have succumbed to the flood lights of "narrow interests." Such an analysis reflects an inability and unwillingness to come to grips with the political roots of these problems. That there is a growing apathy within civil society is significant recognition of something wrong  with the state of democracy and political transformation process in Cameroon. 

Civic Education 
Political reforms and the inherent tenets, objectives or focus of democracy is not trickling down to meet the needs of the people. Rather it is trickling upwards to enhance and cement the "Mathew effect" In short, the problem of democracy in Cameroon is not with the "have-nots", "buy and sellers" but with the educated class who have lost their sense of ethical and moral professionalism to succumb to the dictates of the politicians because of belly and survival politics. To state that the state of democracy and the democratic governance in Cameroon has come close to disaster and total collapse is no exaggeration. 
With ethnic hegemony and exclusion, the continent remains a patchwork of civil war victims, tyrants, ex-dictators, middle-of-the-road politicians, would be reforms and semi-democratic governments. At the end of this tunnel of failed democracies is the beaming light being nurtured by Botswana, Benin, Mauritius, South Africa and hopefully Nigeria. But this is not enough. How can a continent with over 54 states record only four states that have embraced  the virtues of democracy and good governance? 
There is a daunting challenge for both state and civil society to advance the traditions of democratic thinking and practice in Cameroon and the rest of the continent. Statements preaching the politics of "enemies in the house" or "return to where you belong" only fan a function of the bankruptcy of citizenship and exclusion in the democratic process. With this, the idea of service to country or obligations to the institutions by which rights and liberties are maintained has fairly vanished. With such attitude and perception, the reputation of government declines, a sense of non-belonging, apathy and rejection develops. These are unhealthy signs for a  functional democracy, but become a beautiful bride for delegated democracy (single party) which thrives on divide and rule, coercion, control and imposition that destroys all institutions of the body politic of the society. 
Government becomes afflicted with every social malfunction from corruption to unintended consequences. Yet the meaning and ideals of democracy is construed on citizenship, sense of  belonging and participation not exclusion in all forms. On this count Barber (1998:187) notes; "The long term effect of representative institutions which have been crucial in the preservation of accountability and a thin version of democracy in mass societies where more participatory forms of government seen untenable, has often been to undermine a vigorous participatory citizenship and to reinforce distance between voters and governors." 
These observations notwithstanding, are ample signs of a burgeoning interests for the institutionalisation strong and genuine democracy in Cameroon. It only requires political will from the various stake holders. Without active citizen participation, no democracy can function properly, or in the long run, even survive. Political pluralism with 158 political parties is just as dangerous as a single party - i.e. the tyranny of the majority and minority is not healthy for  democracy. 
Civic education and awareness creation are necessary for the cultivation and of building a culture of democracy. So far our schools are the neglected forges of our future, they are also the abandoned workshops of our democracy. There is nothing sadder than a country that turns its back on its children; for in doing so, it turns away from its own future. In building up public awareness, we are also strengthening the very foundation of our democratic civic culture. Forges of our citizenship and sense of belonging constitute the bedrock of our  democracy. Do not throw it away. The government rules, and its legitimacy is sustained, by the consent of individuals who make up civil society. 

The Road Ahead 
With the collapse of the communist system, one simply identifies liberal-representative democracy as the most viable governance system that has stood the test of time. But this form of governance is not friction free. It depends on the participation of civil society and its constituent elements in the individual wills - the desire for self preservation - it cannot be perfect. It is a slow process for decision-making particularly when serious and urgent issues are to be handled. 
As stated in the Federalist No 51 (349) "....if men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable government to control the government; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." Furthermore, as pointed out by James Madison, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands may justly be pronounced as the very definition of tyranny. 
The tyranny of the majority and minority must be resented. In other words, minority  and majority  power should be such  that it is not the power to command, but the power to persuade to get all on board for the common good. Indeed, the two essential criteria for any democracy is the degree of political freedom and civil liberties within each country. Only people can perfect their imperfection. To perfect  imperfection requires a democratic governance system of inclusion and not exclusion. 
With democracy the sovereign authority retains the absolute power possessed by each person in the state of nature, while every party to the convenient gives up his natural rights to all things into the hands of the sovereign State. The essence of checks and balances through the separation of powers and the independence of each institution constitute and highlight the significance of democracy - separated institutions sharing power. 
The consolidation of democracy in Cameroon need not be over-emphasised. For seeking to strengthen democracy and reinforcing democratic governance, particularly from within, puts the society on a path to sustainable development that meets the needs of the people. The rights and obligations which inhere in democracy require a decision or commitment by citizens of political communities to determine freely the conditions of their own association and the course of their polity. 
Democracy can only be adequately entrenched if a division of powers and competencies is recognised at different levels of political interaction and interconnectedness - levels which correspond to the degrees to which public issues stretch across and affect population. Africa is just embracing the tenets of democracy. And its future depends upon how well informed civil society is;  the degree to which the fallout of democracy relate or trickle down to address and meet their basic needs. 
Hence the idea of democracy is durable, but its practice is precarious. Precarious because a healthy democratic polity is not simply an arena in which individuals pursue their personal  interests and goals, but that of the common interest. Democracy flourishes when and how individual citizens willingly deploy their hard-won freedom and liberty to participate in the life of their society - by way of electing or rejecting their representatives, participating in public debate, as well as accepting the need for tolerance and compromise in public life. It goes without saying that democracy is an instrument for conflict, compromise and consensus - a set of rules for conflict management with certain limits and acceptable as legitimate by all parties. 
A democracy lives by compromises; and nowhere has political compromise been more successful than in the field of partnership that binds the governing and opposition parties into a common home framework  for the socio-cultural and eco-political progress of the nation. Can political parties in Africa enter into such a political accord for the common good of the country? By doing so, they shall be building a healthy and sustainable society for present and future generations (Forje, forthcoming). 

Following a few fleeting years of democratic rule after independence, dictatorship, autocracy and military rule as well as its grinding poverty, came to be viewed as much as part of the African social landscape. The end of the cold war and the sudden collapse of the communist system breathed new life into campaigns for democracy in Africa. 
Addressing the African plight in his capacity as OUA Chairman (1991) President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda noted: "So far, the litany of Africa's woes is awful, painful and agonising....while the rest of the world is modernising, Africa remains a museum piece. If Africa is in dire straits, it is less a museum than a kaleidoscope of shifting fortunes."  Claude Ake (1993) argues that in order for African democracy to be relevant and sustainable it will have to be radically different from liberal democracy." From these statements, one  concludes that there is an emerging political theory of the democracy in Africa which sees the economic regression of the continent as the other side of political regression. It thus recognises that the cause of development is better served by a democratic approach that engages the energy and commitments of the people who alone can make development and democracy possible and sustainable. 
The conclusion of over 500 African groups at the 1990 Arusha conference strongly argued that the absence of democracy is a major cause of chronic underdevelopment in Africa ( ECA - Arusha 1990). It is clear from this declaration  that Africans are seeking democracy not only as a condition for survival, but also for the realisation that they must fend for themselves or perish. Because development must now be self-reliant at both the national and grass roots level, it has to be based on political democracy. The inter-marriage between  political democracy and economic development in Africa is not surprising given the state of abject poverty and misery that looms over the continent and its marginalisation in global affairs both economically and technologically. 
Admittedly, there is no perfect governance system. However, this is no excuse for Africa to remain within the camp of a system that does not move it forward. The continent must adopt one that has proven to stand the test of time; representative democracy. An attempt has been made to place "democracy" under x-ray and why Africa should join the universal club of liberal-representative democratic governance system. How each country goes about it depends on its internal socio-economic and environmental dynamics and of its external connectedness. Each African country must fashion its own path within the universally accepted norms of democratic governance.  
Democracy in Africa must be recreated within the framework  of the given realities and in political arrangements that fit the cultural context, but without sacrificing its universal values and inherent principles if by this it means creating a unique African democracy, then it is not something that will emerge from a rational blueprint. For it to succeed, it will have to emerge from practical experience and improvisation in the course of a hard struggle. "The process towards democracy must be shaped by the singular reality that those whose democratic participation is at issue are the ordinary people of Africa - many are illiterate, and almost all are poor, rural dwellers in an essentially pre-industrial and communal society. So long as this fact is kept steadfastly in focus, democracy will evolve in ways that will enhance its meaning and give birth and sustainability" (Ake). 

Crying for Democracy  
There is a daunting challenge facing democracy today: At issue is rethinking, the nature, form and content of democratic politics in the face of the complex intermeshing of local, national, regional and global relations and processes. Is democracy a precious thing, knowledge, hunger or what? As Cameroon cries in the wilderness, longing to taste of it, and experience the beatitudes of good governance. 
Drawing aspiration from Oliver Goldsmith's "The Deserted Village" in which he wrote these words: 

"III fare the land to hastening ills a prey, where wealth accumulates, and men decay;  
Building on the words of two South Africans; Alan Paton in "Cry Thy Beloved Country "and Makeba's Song of "Cameroon - What a Beautiful Country…," My perception of Cameroon's unique path to democracy and good  governance is  simply this;  
I think the Masters the Cameroonian Heart and sense they Broke;  
Never shall we break the heart and will of the poor Marginalised minority;  
We haven't come close to it, for blowing the wind of democracy;  
The minority, powerful and haves may flourish or may fade;  
But a bold minority, their will, their country's pride;  
When once destroyed, can never be replenished.  
Liberty, freedom, responsibility depart us; decay we are,  
Shout advance democracy that never has been;  
But corrupt we sink as the cup forever remain ours.  
Poor in plenty we are, The France hidden we accept,  
And the reward we make to the hidders  
But why? So the game of democracy and politics.  

Punish we must the initiative and risk takers ;  
Holding different views we take them for enemies ;  
For nothing so blind as a colonised Mind we have ,  
Remain the faithful students of our colonial masters,  
But poor teachers to our democratic emancipation, 
But why? So the game of democracy and politics.  

Fear to weaken the strong and strengthen the weak,  
Opportunities we often miss to advance our democracy  
Here we are crying in the wilderness;  
Other nations we watch as forward they march,  
Crying for democracy we must, but for how long?  
So the game of democracy and politics the Cameroon way.  

Fare voyage autocracy, dictatorship and ethnocracy  
Fare voyage twentieth century, as we hail.  
The State is dead - Long live the State,  
Dawn a new era for democracy we hope,  
But how by whom when and for what purpose  
Twentieth First century we welcome  
So the game of democratic governance and politics.  

1. As the continent embraces the new millennium, member states should articulate a new agenda for rethinking democracy in relation to the inter-connectedness between state and civil society for the common good; 
2. The bases of politics must be recast on the framework of the separation of powers and good governance. That is, the meaning and nature of power, authority and accountability should be adequately re-examined in respect of (i) the effective mobilisation and participation of the citizens in the democratic process; (ii) enlightened understanding where citizens enjoy adequate and equal opportunities; (iii) control over the agenda, where the citizens have the right to elect and reject their representatives in a free and fair election; (iv) inclusiveness - the  right of each citizen to contribute and benefit from democracy and democratic governance; 
3. Adequate measures should be put in place to redress the existing global marginalisation of Africa as well as ensure that the continent adopt a democratic governance system with the primary purpose of promoting and defending the national interests, ensuring quality life pattern for its population; 
4. Governments should endeavour to ensure that they constantly enjoy legitimacy, confidence and credibility from those who elected them and remain accountable and transparent to the sovereign rights of the governed which must be constantly adhered to; 
5. Bear in mind that democracy is not a machine that runs by itself once the proper principles and procedures are inserted, but one that requires the total commitment of its population to accept the inevitability of conflict or confrontation and the necessity for compromise and tolerance for its own survival; 
6. Each country should from its own geo-political, environmental, cultural economic and other factors tailor its own path towards the institutionalisation of a democratic governance system that ensures and sustains the fundamental issues of liberty, freedom. participation and benefit-sharing in the development process. 


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© The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO.

© Les idées et opinions exprimées dans cette article sont celles de l'auteur
et n’engagent pas la responsabilité de l´UNESCO.

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