Why Africans hate politics

May 30, 2016

The greatest shame of African politics is that political game is lost and won through tribes and religious affiliations.It is hard to see a coptic orthodox christian being elected as President of Egypt or Kenyan Somali being elected as the leader of Kenya.That, however could change in future thanks to the young generation that hates politics with a passion.According to experts and several studies, Africans feel they are observers rather than participants in formal politics. Nine in ten of those interviewed in a recent study in South Africa regard themselves as without influence over President Jacob Zuma government while in Kenya, seven in ten feel the same about other levels of both national and county governments. There is widespread evidence of negative attitudes towards politics and politicians.This is because majority of politicians are greedy, corrupt and dishonest to their constituents.Compared to those found in other democracies in the Western countries, African politics has a long way to go. Africans negativity has emerged in a relatively well-off economic period where more than five of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are in the continent which has a population of over a billion people. Over a half of Africans combine a specific set of negative attitudes towards politics and politicians.Most of my friends from across Africa always tell me how they are irritated by politicians talking rather than acting, annoyed with the compromises of politics, and supportive of a greater role for non-political actors in public decision-making.

A different study revealed that despite the current sub standard politicians Africa has, there’s hope about the future of African democracy. There are few dictators than was the case at the turn of century and while elements of malaise in African politics linger, the core issue appears to be with the politics currently on offer.Evidence point that most Africans do not hold the ideals of the democracy in contempt. They show strong support for its processes such as consultation, compromise and democratic judgement as its currently happening in Kenya where the opposition parties are calling for resignation of electoral body officials for what they perceive as their ineptness to conduct free and fair elections.African citizens also display a considerable understanding of its complex processes and could be up for a more extended role if a different politics was on offer that was more participatory, open and perhaps local.This was demonstrated with students and general population demonstration against South African President Jacob Zuma for corruption allegations.Democratic failures in contemporary African politics is increasingly attributed to the politicians some of whom are illiterate and can hardly express themselves beyond their native language.My view of African situation regard issues for Africa’s political class. First, that citizens view politicians and democratic politics as one and the same while anti- establishment equals anti-tribal politics.

With African countries enacting new constitutional dispensations over the last twenty years, artificial separation of representative and participatory democracy has reinforced a culture of anti-establishment at the heart of modern day African political system. It is clear that citizens have complex feelings towards democracy and its proponents. There is support for a new participatory politics, but with the aim of reducing representative democracy and developing a more more integrated, inclusive and responsive system.The reform processes would need to proceed on the basis of principles where political actors act as the key agents of change, non-partisanship, institutional strengthening and connecting the citizen with the government. Such adoptions would need to be thought through carefully otherwise you’ll end up having a tragedy that countries like Kenya, South Sudan are witnessing where tribal chiefs are elected as leaders.There’s need for reform although outcome is of course a question of political choice like it has been the case with Ethiopia. Africans are clear about what they do not like about what’s currently on offer.The issue is whether elected leaders are listening and willing to accommodate their population’s views.African leaders will have a critical role to play as agents of change, or else the reform process will be doomed to failure and the continent’s vision 2060 will be in tatters.

Contador Harrison