I was listening to the news yesterday and they were talking about the President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, elected for a third term last August after getting the approval of the Constitutional Council. They also mentioned Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazaville who promulgated a new constitution on November 6, 2015 and was getting ready to run for presidency in 2016. I therefore posted a tweet about how constitutions in African countries are managed like Facebook statuses: they are modified anytime « someone » feels like it. After reading this, a very good friend of mine sent me a message, asking me one question: does power alternation guarantee good governance?
I asked that question to an Africtivist from Tunisia during the Africtivist meeting in Dakar last month and we came to the same conclusion: power alternation is change and change is evolution. I told my friend power alternation guarantees change, governance through different perspectives, trials and errors, lessons learned and, therefore, evolution. For the better or the worst, but still evolution. We debated for a while on what a constitution is and why African countries adopted it, then he asked me another question: in Africa in general and in our country in particular, Cameroon, who should be blamed for bad governance?
I told him that though the State is running the country, it should not always be blamed for everything going wrong. I believe citizens are to be blamed the most. Why? Well, many of them do not behave at all like citizens should. The first thing that defines a citizen is patriotism, the love one has for his/her country and for the fellow citizens. Among others, patriotism consists of three aspects: civility, civic responsibility and solidarity. The second thing is involvement. The citizen is a member of a community and should do his/her best for its development at every level.
When it comes to governance, we, as citizens, should not limit ourselves to voting for those we think are well equipped to lead us and then going on with our personal lives with no care about what is coming next. We should first assess the problems faced by the community and then vote impartially for the candidates who are able to implement concrete and actionable solutions for the general interest and the development of the country. AFTER that, we should monitor the work of elected leaders and hold them accountable for what they do.
Finally, we should not rely entirely on the elected or appointed leaders. We should not systematically wait for them to take action, as it is often the case. Governments can and should be blamed for bad governance, but they should not systematically be blamed for daily occurrences such as dirty streets or the increase of road traffic accidents – where the behaviour of citizens is the root cause. Each of us has a responsibility in the general state of a country, governance included, and each of us should realize and accept that.
Photo: About Caring
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