In Africa More Regimes Are Changing Through People-Power Than Ballot Boxes Because Social Contract Has Been Broken, Expert Says

An expert in Governance and Democracy has argued that there is more regime change through people-power than the ballot box in Africa, because the social contract between the governors and the governed has been broken and the people feel that the only way to take back their power is through demonstrations.

“The social contract in most African countries between the governed and the governors is broken. Governments are there to guarantee certain things to the people like security, welfare and when even the basics cannot be guaranteed, the people turn to seize back the power given to the regimes, which is what is happening now in Africa. It is like since you have broken the contract we signed, we want our power back and since power is never given but taken, the people can only do it through street demonstrations which is what we are seeing today. It is power back to the people because the governors have broken the social contract,” said Dr. William Hermann Arrey, a policy analyst at the Nkafu Institute, Yaoundé, Cameroon.

According to Dr. Arrey, democracy as practiced in most African countries is elite democracy, or democracy hijacked by the elites, which is why the masses do not see the process of democratization as a true representation of their wills. “Democracy has failed Africans, which is why many don’t vote because it is not working for them….and one of the means to make their voices heard is through people-power.”

He claims people-power is mostly active in countries where laws are applied when it suits the interest of those who have established what he called “life presidencies” by changing the constitution to extend their stay in power. “Why can it not happen in Nigeria or Ghana,” he asked.

With a hijacked democratization process in Africa, Dr. Arrey warned that many more leaders may be forced to abdicate their thrones because the worries of the people have gathered steam over the years and, like a volcano, tempers are beginning to erupt.

It should be noted that over the past five years many more presidents have been forced out of office through people-power than through the regular ballot box electioneering process. One of the most glaring examples is Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, who was forced out of power by street protests in 2014 after 27 years as President. Robert Mugabe’s reign also ended in November 2017 after three decades as President of Zimbabwe, while Jacob Zuma of South Africa was unceremoniously forced out of power in February 2018. Recently, street protests have also ended the 20-year rule of Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, as well as the three-decade reign of Omer Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan.