Scene-setting: “Silencing the Guns by 2020” What is at stake?

For those who were old enough then, remember the period between 1970 to 1990? When single parties were the talk of day, military coups and attempted military coups the order of the day?

Fast forward to the ‘90s; competitive politics came into play and countries far and wide within the African continent celebrated multiparty elections; thus true democracy was born.

Today however, we still grapple with challenges in democracy, good governance and human rights. A good number of countries are experiencing impunity, violent conflict, corruption,  rigged elections, lack of participatory and inclusive development and violation of human rights especially of women and youth but to name a few.

So how then does the African state intend to silence the guns in 5 years knowing full well the challenges being faced? What really is at stake here?

H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission has consistently emphasized the role of democratic governance in doing so. She has often times spoken on the fact that stable peace and national prosperity can only be achieved when the institutions and systems in place are representative of all groups in a given society. “Efforts must include fostering democratic governance, social cohesion and harmony as encapsulated in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, among other AU normative frameworks. Only through democratic governance and durable solutions can durable peace and sustainable human development be achieved.”

She continues by informing that to surmount the aspirational and inspirational milestone of silencing the guns within the framework of AU Agenda 2063, we would require translating AU resolutions into solutions through concrete policy interventions at member state level. In achieving this, we would need to focus on addressing the structural causes of conflict on our continent which are rooted in both governance deficits and development malaise.

Prof. Gilbert Khadiagala, Head of International Relations Department, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, raised the poignant aspect of silenced the guns being feasible not only in five years, but today. “When heads of state decide to lead from a conscientious point of view, wars in Africa will be nothing but history,” he stated. This is only possible where leaders decide to silence their own guns and not turn them on the societies that they lead. “To end wars we just have to be honest about what we are doing wrong,” the Prof. informed.

“As a continent we need to harness the inspirational element of doing things, we must dissuade ourselves from engaging in pessimistic tenets of life. We have managed to build a culture of competitive politics in 25 years, in that same spirit we can strengthen institutions of participation, accountability and transparency,” he stated.

“Some say it is impossible, but take a look at Costa Rica, they are a well functioning and successful country without having a military. No one ever thought this would be possible, but it has been done.”

The fundamental aspect of all this is that we cannot achieve our goals without including the youth. Today and in the the year 2020, they will be the leaders, in 2063, they will be the ones passing the baton to the next generation. Incorporation of the future in the present cannot be underscored. Youth have to be at the genesis of the problem solving process in the continent.

Dr. Mustapha Mekideche, member of the APR Panel of Eminent Persons informed the group that growth without inclusive development would consistently pose an imminent threat to the progress of Africa. He informed the audience of the need to foresee the objectives of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism being met; that includes fostering the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration through experience sharing and reinforcement of successful and best practices. This includes addressing deficiencies and assessment of requirements for capacity building. Evidently, the peer review mechanism goes a long way in addressing political, social and economic governance however in respect state sovereignty, membership of the same is on a voluntary basis. This has led to the unfortunate challenge of some states avoiding to commit to the objectives of the institutions or even to adhere to the recommendations given.

“The APRM reflects African values, who is afraid of these values?” Prof. Khadiagala asked.

I urge you to gain a better understanding of it to keep abreast and hold your governments accountable.  Public participation could not be emphasized at a more befitting time. For more information kindly visit here

We cannot afford to wait for external or regional pressure to get the systems in place working. Let us make a conscientious effort to enhance developmental governance; the success of this continent is ours for the taking,

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