CONSTITUTIONALISM, RULE OF LAW AND DEVELOPMENT
Most scholars and practitioners understand constitutionalism, the Rule of Law, and stable institutions as central for not only the protection of human rights but for sustainable growth to occur. States have been apt to giving lip service to Constitutional fidelity, adherence to the Rule of Law and strong institutions with little commitment to these values and institutions. This results in a disjuncture between the “robust” Constitutions some countries boast of and the lived experiences of many Africans. Subsequently, while the “Nkrumah doctrine” of “seeking first the political kingdom and all else will follow” has fallen out of favour, questions abound about the extent to which African governments foreground legal and institutional infrastructure for public accountability, government legitimacy, and social justice in Africa’s march towards development. This panel will focus on this recurring question.
The Politics of 'big men': Role of Women and Youth in Democracy
African countries have made considerable advances in increasing women’s participation in governance. Countries like Rwanda and South Africa, for example, have some of the highest levels of female representation in the world; for example, women in Rwanda have won 63.8% of seats in the lower house. South Africa, Senegal, and Seychelles have more than 40% each and Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda are not far off, with women occupying over 35% of all parliamentary seats. Through legislation, constitutional amendments, and grassroots demand many African countries have made women representation tangible. However, women are still severely underrepresented in government and more than that, having a seat in parliament does not necessarily mean access to the political capital needed to make key policy decisions.
Women are the backbone of many African economies as they increasingly are becoming the breadwinners of their households and continuing to contribute to the informal economy. It is women who bear the highest social cost of poor governance and corruption and yet they are explicitly or implicitly excluded from spaces of leadership and policymaking. There are several social, cultural and economic barriers that inhibit women’s abilities to make a significant impact in politics; patriarchal politics fuels by belief systems that men must make decisions and the place for a woman is in the home.
- How can women in the continent wield their power to garner better policies and governance?
- In what ways can women, especially young women, gain access to spaces of influence and policymaking?
- What are the formal and informal systems that can propel or create barriers to women accessing key positions of leadership?
- What role can women play outside of politics to contribute to creating good governance and holding government accountable?
ARE POLITICAL PARTIES A THREAT TO DEVELOPMENT?
Development in Africa is stagnating due to poor leadership and policy choices from political parties. Political parties offer elected leadership which runs governments and policies from manifestos are badly managed and fail to attract competent individuals. Despite the central role that political parties play in selection of leadership very little support is offered in ensuring that quality policies and leadership emerges. There are no institutions, organization private and non-state actors that provide adequate support to improve political parties. A snap survey across the continent shows how; political parties are struggling with intra party democracy from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. The panel will discuss the following:
- The crisis of political parties in Africa
- How private sector development partners can assist in strengthening political parties
- Mechanisms of attractive quality leadership that can help shape progressive policies to push for development