Governance in its context of managing the affairs of a State basically relates to how a leader manages the affairs of the State. It involves the manner in which policies are formulated and implemented.
Where a system fails to provide good policies and it is led and influenced by personal interests through arbitrary and inconsistent policy formulation and management rather the promotion of the common good, the insidious effects of what is considered bad governance set in, in the form of systemic corruption and a lack of transparency. The rest of the other general effects on society, the economy and politics are well known.
It is disturbing that a flurry of military coups is spreading across the region, particularly in ‘French-Africa’. Most of the concern is geared towards the hardware method of disrupting a constitutional order – understandable, because the past records of military take-overs have never been impressive, to say the least.
In recent times, however, public concern is being extended to include coups in the form of software activities by leaders who blatantly flout the constitution in ways that will ensure the perpetuation of their stay in power.
In as much as military takeovers look like a spreading virus, it also appears that the abuse of power and the gradual emergence of the symptoms of bad governance within an existing democratic dispensation are also becoming contagious. The symptoms leading to a dictatorship and the indirect perpetuation of rule are becoming clearly ‘diagnosable’.
Term limits are becoming more globally recognized as some form of insurance against bad governance. It is perceived to keep leaders on track to make them aware that their past activities, whilst in power, would be just a stone’s throw away after they have left. They can be recalled and could be made accountable. It is more or less a hopeful tool of motivation for good governance, but it may not necessarily be a panacea or a watertight solution.
Changing the constitution to extend term limits is now seen to be too crude an approach in the current state of public awareness and intolerance. The new trend seems to be the management of the changing of guards that will continue to support a previous system of bad governance in order to maintain the capacity to continue to mismanage the national resources and to contain the possibility of any future prosecution.
This approach of perpetuating the same governance system is becoming the new contagious virus for sitting governments. It is, more or less, a continuity of a leadership by proxy.
Under a normal state of political development, one would have seen such an approach and management of succession as indeed natural. The objective could be similar on the basis of having some form of continuity, but the motives and methods are vastly different.
Globally, the symptoms are clearly the same – dictate the terms of succession and decide who can participate or compete against a future chosen replacement. The tools that are used to achieve such an objective are also very similar – stifle any opposition, individual or political party, real or perceived, from the very early stages of the political competition and deter them from any future participation in the political affairs of a nation.
Unfortunately, the ancient and traditionally respected institution and profession of law again seem to be the favorite weapon – the judiciary – that are used to achieve the cynical objectives of such a leadership.
In passing, one may observe that the violent reprisals of protesters for justice are a follow up virus of repression. The institutions of security, again traditionally known for the protection of the citizenry, are usually weaponized to brutally suppress any show of dissent or protest.
A more robust political state relies more on its institutions to guard and maintain a solid framework for a democracy. Where such institutions are weak, a leadership wields the power of coercion to enforce its ominous objectives.
The elimination of opponents in order to ensure and guarantee continuity of a system of bad governance and the mismanagement of public resources is totally unjust and runs against the grain of public tolerance and the stability of a society. Injustice and selective justice are inimical to stability and peace.
Just Thinking Aloud.
Lamino Lang Coma